For sound complexity, one language stands out. !Xóõ, spoken by just a few thousand, mostly in Botswana, has a blistering array of unusual sounds. Its vowels include plain, pharyngealised, strident and breathy, and they carry four tones. It has five basic clicks and 17 accompanying ones. The leading expert on the !Xóõ, Tony Traill, developed a lump on his larynx from learning to make their sounds. Further research showed that adult !Xóõ-speakers had the same lump (children had not developed it yet).
Beyond sound comes the problem of grammar. On this score, some European languages are far harder than are, say, Latin or Greek. Latin’s six cases cower in comparison with Estonian’s 14, which include inessive, elative, adessive, abessive, and the system is riddled with irregularities and exceptions....
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
This article in The Economist tries to determine which of the world's spoken languages is the most difficult to learn. Here's a sample:
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Tomorrow is the return of Fly The Dog Across the Country Day. Today we had the vet inspection (What a racket! 60$ for a certificate to fly, obtained by having a vet do nothing more than weigh our dog and look in his ears. Give me a break).
I don't expect to be doing much posting between now and the New Year, so Merry Christmas to all from our family to yours. I leave you with a few more shots of Bink in holiday gear. Happy Holidays!
Friday, December 11, 2009
Christmas in ANCIANT-land. Note the glorious wood panelling in the room around the tree. I described our living room area to my wife as "An Arkansas Hunting Lodge Christmas." She didn't like that. Still I can't help feeling, when I look at our tree, that Kenny Rogers should be coming out from the next room any minute to do a Christmas duet with Dolly Parton. That's not a bad thing, by the way. It's just unexpected.
Bink's hat doesn't show as well as it could in these photos. We've got some antlers rustling around somewhere; hopefully those will be a bit more majestic.
Monday, December 7, 2009
It has been, I know, a long time since I put up a new post. I'm sorry. I've been doing nothing for the last month but writing, sleeping, and playing poker. Well, that, and the occasional dose of Reality TV. (Season Finale of Top Chef this Wednesday!) I'm resolved to take a break from my own work in January and return to work on a movie list that I started several months ago. I'm also considering posting an excerpt from a script in progress, with the idea that you all might give me some constructive criticism. (By which I mean, like any writer who says they want constructive criticism, I'm hoping you'll say it's great over and over and over again, and nothing else.)
Before the holidays, I do plan to have some more photos; we've got a tree up now, as well as some exciting Christmas-themed outfits that the Bink, his own desires notwithstanding, will no doubt soon be modeling. I'd also like to put up a post about the third season of Mad Men, which we've almost finished. But I cannot promise anything. I've been winning significant money playing poker online, I'm doing good work on a TV Pilot, and I'm making real progress on my lifelong goal of becoming the first-ever Heisman trophy winner to play the lead in a Broadway revival of West Side Story. I've got a lot going on, in other words, but I'll be back soon. Until then, may all your chestnuts dance and crackle, and your sugar plums be tasty, and your wombats fill the night with joyous ulultation.