Thursday, August 23, 2012

the linguascape ...

7000 world languages  |  6 official UN languages  | 127 official languages of UN member states.
image from
United Nations
Year of Languages

Compiled by The World as Flatland

"A language ceases to be spoken every two weeks" ... 2008

UN image from above site.

image: Here

Q: what Radio programs or alternatives do you listen to whilst working?

I tend to have phases myself... for years it was always Radio National but then sometimes I prefer silence ... or talking books... even perhaps a video which I might watch several times so it doesn't matter if I miss bits. Plus if there's a commentary with director & actors I take that in too.

This radio provides often great food for thought. There are paintings I might have worked on intensely over days, even weeks, with a story or idea that I've heard having permeated my thinking... and possibly the canvas.

I listened to a series of talking books by one particular author once when working on an epic painting...the brushstrokes became infused with the themes of the book series.

One thing I have long wished for is to be able to speak or understand languages other than my own native tongue. My three years of Bahasa Indonesia at school was never grounded by travelling to that nearby country... despite the fact that Bali is heavily touristed by Australians and Java and other places have long been too.

I love to hear aboriginal dialects spoken and find it only increasingly interesting to learn more of the vast cultural history that grew out of the soil of this land.

Map of Aboriginal languages in Australia

Ive posted this map on this blog before...I will try and link to that post as this map is such low resolution it cant be read. Click to read the link above for some stats on use of aboriginal languages today.

Google language for an interesting read.

Below is a language Tree from Europe... with the link to the article where it was found which is worth a read.

read more on the Language Tree.

Listening to Radio National recently the weekly program Lingua Franca touched on linguascapes.

I was immediately taken with this concept and found the program which I assume can be listened to from anywhere round the globe.


Saturday 28 July 2012 3:45PM (view full episode)
MyLanguage is a partnership project between the public libraries of all the mainland states and territories of Australia, facilitating social inclusion by making these local hubs of information and communications technology multilingual, via a web portal that gives access to aggregated data in over 60 different languages. This online service provides links to information such as news, digital storytelling, as well as a calendar of events and activities.

It seems utterly important in this contemporary world that we have access to such programs and projects such as the one discussed here called MY LANGUAGE.

The term Linguascape wasn't so easy to read about online. An article I googled explained the concept as the linguistic nature of cultural, human-shaped landscapes... thats the simple bit more here:

Landscapes, linguascaping and transmediality more

I'll leave you to ponder all that...

The concept of the linguascape is a rich one indeed ... 
worth considering  how it has shaped each one of us... 
what unique experiences have been part of our journey 
over many years.



ronnie said...

I've also been fascinated by language - I wanted so much to be able to learn another language - I started French in my first year of high school (didn't we all?) but then the french teacher moved and we language students suddenly were learning indonesian (now that may have been just the thing for you sophie - but it didn't do it for me back then!).... sigh.... when I was in year 11 I actually attempted to teach myself a native american dialect (of the nez perce if you must know.... don't ask why!!!!!) ... of course that's just impossible.... and then years later I actually DID manage to study 2 years of modern standard chinese (eg mandarin) at uni as part of my BA --- I was surprisingly proficient BUT same as you I didn't get to bed this theory down with time amongst native speakers - and now I've all but forgetten everything (and I used to be able to read and write chinese moreso than speak it!)

learning a language gives an invaluable insight into culture and ideas - often its the only way to understand how other folk think.... its so sad that languages are lost everyday - just like biodiversity, we all lose when a language dies out....

Sophie Munns said...

Its such a huge topic...
you and I Ronnie both grew up in regional areas where small rural populations could tend towards the insular and different languages were not always part of the everyday soundscape. Plus Australia's small population and isolation was very marked in our younger years.

The yearning for more is great for a curious person ... the racism around me in those years against the local indigenous population only heightened my cultural curiosity and got me thinking.
Indonesian was taught by a young teacher with an amazing wardrobe who travelled that country every school holiday. I was hungry to learn from those immersed in other cultures... my Latvian History teacher, spirited and digressive, talking of eating dandelions + so much that was different!
In a school of golf-sock wearing aussie blokes and70's dressing women I was fascinated by anyone who could transcend the blandness of my known world. A sadly tedious, unimaginative male French teacher could not raise my enthusiasm ... the day he gave us sliced white bread with a piece of cadbury's chocolate and said that is what the french eat daily I was horrified + avoided that elective the following year. I actually had no cultural reference point for France at that time ...but the sliced white bread felt ominous as a symbol of a very bland version.
Bahasa Indonesia in time made sense living as I did close to the centre of the exploding hippie culture of northern NSW. The overland pathway from OZ to Asia to London filtered in... times were a'changing! Consciousness that our neighbours were Asian and Europe was far away!

So sad that Mandarin was lost to you Ronnie ... staying immersed in the language is a challenge. I was a little like that with Greek... came to be able to read and write it after spending 4 months there, and later pursued lessons, explored Greek poets and themes in my studio practice for a couple of years..but without the constant immersion one begins to lose the threads.

Its also said as languages die so can botanical knowledge of the region and that species disappear along with language... the relationship can be incredibly close. I remember posting about that on the Homage blog last year after finding a brilliant story on it.

May your day come again for more immersion in language... it s not too late Ronnie. I see that yearning in your potent work on books!
x S

Anonymous said...

Well learning another language is not so easy, but not too hard as well.. If you focus and try hard, you cna do it with ease :))