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Tuesday links

  • How we can kill Obamacare and legalize pot. Glenn Harlan Reynolds muses on the power of nullification.
  • Less playground nannying = happier, more alert, and safer kids. No surprise to anybody hereabouts, of course.
  • Rand Paul: If there was a war on women … women won it. Rand may not be Ron, but he’s a pretty sharp politician. (Which may be a good or a bad thing, depending.)
  • Erin Palette has a new blog, Blue Collar Prepping. Being of blue collar (rather than blue blood or silver spoon) heritage myself, I look forward to learning how our prepping differs from anybody else’s. Presumably it doesn’t involve flying to our private bunkers in our private jets as our private army fends off blue-collar zombie hordes. (H/T jed from comments)
  • The language seems horrible. The process of inventing a language and falling in among those who traffic in such stuff — fascinating. Leave it to one of the Foer brothers to track down this interestingly obscure intellectual tale.
  • No survival pantry could possibly be complete without this! (H/T to A for those last two.)
  • Speaking of languages, here’s a cool, fun way to learn a few. There’s a phone app for this, too. First time I’ve ever regretted not having a smartphone.


  1. Jim B.
    Jim B. January 28, 2014 2:12 am

    The most famous invented language is the Star Trek’s Klingon language. Someone even published an actual language dictionary for it.

  2. RickB
    RickB January 28, 2014 2:19 am

    “Irish Democracy.” I never heard that term before but that’s really how I imagine “The Revolution” coming to pass.

    It’s very much like the bumper sticker from my youth: “What if they gave a war and nobody came?”

  3. Claire
    Claire January 28, 2014 4:41 am

    Hm. Some folks need to read the actual article before commenting. (Yeah, I know. It’s long. But Klingon, Tolkein’s languages, and others are all covered — and yes, all noted as being very real.)

  4. Pat
    Pat January 28, 2014 5:17 am

    Spontaneous language comes about when people need to understand one another. The beauty of multiple languages is that they can be translated; this forces people to work around their differences until an understanding is reached ― and in the process, they come to know one another better, and see subjects from a different perspective.

    The problem with trying to simplify language is it often becomes too complicated to understand. Quijada concentrated on people learning to _speak_ the language, but not on those who would be _listening_ to it. Even he was surprised how well his language was understood ― but could be misused as well.

  5. Matt, another
    Matt, another January 28, 2014 7:04 am

    I guess I would be a dirty collar prepper.

    Rand Paul will never be succesful if he keeps calling it like he sees it and keeps telling the truch. Obviously his father failed in raising him.

  6. Jim B.
    Jim B. January 28, 2014 9:03 am

    It’s also interesting that all these people are inventing new languages when at a time that many ancient languages and dialects are becoming extinct. That I believe is ironic.

  7. Philalethes
    Philalethes January 28, 2014 12:19 pm

    I’ve been fascinated by language(s) all my life, studied Esperanto in my youth, dreamed Zamenhoff’s dream until I realized that, like all efforts to reform the world according to rational principles, it was doomed to be a non-starter (speakers of dominant languages have no reason to be interested, while those who do haven’t the clout to get everyone to speak it). I did enjoy a course I took once from a native Esperanto speaker (from Switzerland, his parents had met through the movement and didn’t speak each other’s languages, so Esperanto was the language of the home).

    Some years back I ran into a fascinating book about language which taught me a lot, made me finally understand that language is an organic phenomenon that will never cease changing, and will wash away all efforts to rationalize it or fix its form. That we now tend to think of language first in its written form masks this fact, since written language (the forms of words anyway) changes only slowly if at all—while spoken language changes constantly, indeed cannot be stopped from changing. Which is why English spelling makes so little sense so much of the time. (And French!)

    Tibetan is particularly bad in this regard, as the written language is the same as it was over a thousand years ago, when the language was first “reduced” (as they say) to writing, while the spoken language (and of course, until only very recently most Tibetans have been illiterate, and the language still consists of numerous varying dialects) has been changing at an organic rate. You just have to learn, for instance, that the Dalai Lama’s name, written “Bstan-‘dzin-rgya-mtsho” (transliterating letter-by-letter), is pronounced “Tenzin Gyatso”.

    Irish has similar problems, having become written about the same time as Tibetan—though I believe it has seen some efforts at spelling reform about a century ago. The problem with such reform, however, is that it makes older written material in the language unintelligible to all but scholars who study the old orthography. Who would know from looking at it that Maire Brennan’s name is pronounced “Moya” (the Irish form of Mary)? And that’s a simple example, without the “silent” letters that abound in Irish (and Tibetan).

    Anyway, the book mentioned is Guy Deutscher, The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention; probably can be found in libraries.

    Another book of similar interest is The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, about the ancestors of most of us, identified primarily by their Proto-Indoeuropean language, whose descendants now cover most of the Earth.

  8. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 28, 2014 12:21 pm

    Jim B. All things change, and language is no exception. As a writer and editor, I have seen tremendous changes just in my lifetime, Reading a novel from as recently as the 1930s can become tedious, simply because we no longer speak or write that way anymore. So, while ancient languages can be exceedingly interesting to scholars, change is inevitable and languages will continue to come and go. I look forward to the future, and whatever languages evolve or are discovered as we reach out to the stars. 🙂

  9. Claire
    Claire January 28, 2014 2:06 pm

    Thanks for the education, Philalethes. I knew some of that in theory. But Irish spelling has puzzled me ever since I spent time over there in my 20s. It mystified me that Cobh could be pronounced “Cove” and taoiseach could be “tea-shock.” Not to mention that that evocative Irish singer Enya (Brennan) is really Eithne Ní Bhraonáin.

    I know in theory that Irish spellings are actually more logical ( than English spellings (then, everything is more logical than English spellings). Still, every time I encounter an Irish word it manages to boggle my mind.

  10. jed
    jed January 28, 2014 3:51 pm

    English spelling isn’t as bad as you might think, once you look at the history. I read a very good article about it a while back, and this isn’t it, but has some of the pieces. 12 Letters that didn’t make it. Start looking at word origins, mix in the collision of glyphs and typography, and the influx, in England, of multiple languages, and yeah, it produced an odd mix of spelling and pronunciation. I actually think we need more glyphs for English.

    Bring back Thorn and Yogh!

  11. Dave
    Dave February 1, 2014 10:41 am

    It’s always bugged me that a non-phonetic language (Mandarin) was transliterated into phonetic symbols in English that (the vowels, that is) DON’T MATCH THE PRONUNCIATION.

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