Friday, November 18, 2005

yeah, 'cept I'm not taking phonetics this semester...

Originally uploaded by himbly.
I still can't sleep.

I'm not even tired. I go to bed late, wake up early, and aside from an unpleasant and tired hour or two in the morning, I'm okay.

I finished my paper and handed it in.

But...when we handed it in she told us if we wanted it back until Monday, it was fine with her.

I turned the offer down. I didn't want to look at it again.

But now I'm wanting to read it over (it's still on my computer) but I'm scared that I'm going to decide everything's wrong and I need to redo the whole thing.

"...and my inner voice is saying, "Don't go."..."
--aww..heck. I'm trying to quote Best In Show but I don't remember how it goes.

Anyway...I'm listening to my inner 'fraidy-cat voice 'cause I was quite chuffed with myself earlier when I thought I at least knew what I was writing about in this last paper. Now that I've had time to think about it, my inner critic voice is yelling, "Fool! You don't know the first thing about ergativity in Kalaallisut!"

But, right now, I wouldn't trade this for anything.

I am so happy right now to be going back to school and studying stuff I care about.

The problem with linguistics is that you fall in love with every language you research. I've been working on Kalaallisut since September now, I've looked at its word order, morphology, how it modifies its nouns and where it puts its possessors. I've tried to prove that it's ergative (or not in a small group of nouns), that it's polysynthetic, and that it's highly fusional. Oh, and certainly not least, I've researched its speakers...where they live, how, how many, how commited they are to keeping Kalaallisut alive (real committed, btw)...

And I know almost nothing about this language. Seriously.

There's so much.

I don't know how the writers of grammars do it, frankly. The guy that wrote mine had to spend...I don't even know how long in West Greenland recording data. Then he comes home (or stays there...I don't know) and writes a book based on his findings.

I don't think I've ever read so many sentences about ptarmigan, sled dogs and polar bears in all my life.

Oh...and did you know that the Kalaallisut word for 'polar bear' is nanuq? Oh...and that Kalaallisut is a very close relative to Canadian Inuit dialects?

[q] is phonetic for a voiceless uvular stop. In other words...if you make a k sound, you feel the back of your tongue touching the back of your palate..the soft part...the velum? Your uvula is the dinger donger in the back of your throat. Now, try to get the back of your tongue to touch that and try the k sound again. If you can do it, you make a [q].

(I still remember the day we learned this in phonetics..all of us trying to make the [q] sound with our prof excitedly yelling, 'Further back! Further back! You! (pointing) Try it! Further back!')

So...since English speakers don't make that sound, we use [k] to replace it. So, when people say Nanuk of the actually means polar bear.

Neat, huh? all those that think linguistics is easy, I say this:

Up your nose with a rubber hose.

And since this is my blog and I've been reading a lot of bloggers lately saying, "this is my blog, I'll write what I want"...Ima write what I want.

'cause that's just how this bi-atch rolls.

And what I want is to write this (so prolly best to skip it):

I've never worked with a language like this before. There is so much morphology (prefixes, suffixes, infixes) going on and I used to hate studying it totally effed me up at first. But now, g-damn if I don't think that it's the coolest thing ever that you can incorporate a verb into your noun and keep going.

That means a whole sentence ~can~ be said in one word. Not always, but it can be done without it being weird to anyone speaking or listening.

Isn't that cool?

Like you can say the word "aqissirniarput" and it means "They are hunting ptarmigan"
(told ya so about the ptarmigan and stuff)
because it's actually one noun with two suffixes: aqissir-niar-put (ptarmigan-hunt-3rd person plural). A suffix just like in English when we say accomplish-ment-s (accomplish (verb) - ment (makes it a noun) - s (plural)). 'Cept, instead of the middle affix meaning 'make a noun/verb' it is a verb.

The 3rd person plural at the end is a bit of a different story but I won't get into it here. Probably no one is reading this anymore -if they even started.

Anyway..that's just a small thing I had to get off my chest. Linguistics is so effing neat. I didn't realize how much I missed it.

Oh dear. I've got to get to bed.


mona said...

oh that's just so lovely to read from a person who fell in love with kalallisut as well :) i am a linguistics student as well (in germany), my major subject is celtic studies, but i am very interested in minority languages, and in northern european and circumpolar languages in general, and i am desperately searching for contacts with greenlandic speakers on the web, to practice a bit with them. - which books did you use for your research?
good wishes,

p.s. - my main blog is in scottish gaelic... don't be afraid! :D if you want to leave a comment, best but it in the german blog... :)

Bryce said...

Lovely story on Kalaallisut! It's nice to see someone else who actually knows what the language is and doesn't give you a funny look when you say it! :)

Here's a great website you might enjoy that is in Kalaallisut:

Kalaallisut wiki browser

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