This week in languages: August 26, 2016

by on August 26, 2016



Concert sign language interpreters? Andrea Marks writes for Noisey about the people whose job it is to translate song lyrics—during live concerts and from bands like The Grateful Dead, no less—into American Sign Language (ASL).

A recent study on the effects of the psychedelic drug LSD on language is reportedly the first of its kind in over 50 years. The study’s results showed that the drug may affect semantic networks and the associations we make between words and the concepts that they represent. Although further research will be required to confirm this, the results suggest some intriguing uses for LSD (as a depression treatment, for example) and provide information concerning its potential effects on creativity.

Over at Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University, instructors are learning how to educate their deaf or hard-of-hearing students about sex and sexuality. “While the speaking world has convenient euphemisms for much of this stuff, in ASL some of the signs are, to put it mildly, pretty graphic,” NPR reports.

Commentaries and Features

Among the 170 languages spread out across the Philippine peninsula is a slang of the gay Filipino subculture called Swardspeak (also known as Bekinese or Bekimon). With words from English, Tagalog, Spanish, and even Japanese, the coded sociolect piqued the interest of Will Dasovich, a half-Filipino male who documented his language learning experience in the Philippines, including one on Swardspeak (watch it here) that gained him local fame. Today, the words of Swardspeak pepper the conversation of people outside the LGBT community. “Anyone in the entertainment industry uses it. Girls use it all the time. Even some straight guys use it. Especially comedians.”

In the south of Thailand stands Tanjung Primary School, one out of 1,200 other government schools situated in the danger zone where “deadly sectarian conflict between ethnic Malay-Muslims and their Thai Buddhist countrymen [left] nearly 200 teachers assassinated and 300 government schools razed over the past decade”. But the introduction of Patani-Malay languages—spoken by 83% of the region’s population and written in Jawi—in the classroom where Thai used to dominate has shown promising results in bilingual and multicultural understanding among students, reports The Guardian.

China now has a Tibetan-language search engine! Launched this week, the Yongzin (meaning ‘master’ or ‘teacher’ in Tibetan) will “will serve as a unified portal for all major Tibetan-language websites in China”, reports China Daily. Finally operations three years after its development, Yongzin will have sections for news, websites, images, videos, music, encyclopedia, literature, and forums. Content will  also be categorised according to local dialects such as Amdo, Kamba, and U-Tsang. However, Quarts writer Zheping Huang ponders the subliminal effects of power in media and questions the reliability of Yongzin as the main source of Tibetan content in light of its apparent censorship.



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