Lowbrow TV Programming for Linguists

I’m sure this has probably already been in dozens of linguistics blogs, but I haven’t seen it, so here goes:

Lowbrow TV Programming for Linguists

Thanks, Dave, for passing it along to me.


Iñupiaq film premieres at Sundance

This week Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s short film Sikumi (‘On the Ice’) is debuting at the Sundance Film Festival. (Story here at Anchorage Daily News, which unfortunately requires registration most of the time. Thank God for BugMeNot!) According to the article, it’s the first feature film ever made in Iñupiaq, and I think it’s pretty exciting! He also shot a documentary in Iñupiaq in 2005, but I’ve never been able to track down a copy of it. Anyway, it’s a nice change for me to hear Iñupiaq dialogues in a non-classroom, non-fieldwork setting.

If you go to Sundance’s website, you can view Sikumi online. Apparently this will only be online for one day, though, so don’t wait if you’re interested. The subtitles are minute, and maybe white text wasn’t the best choice when your background is the Arctic in winter, but it’s readable. The setting will probably remind most of Atanarjuat (‘The Fast Runner’), but that was filmed in Inuktitut, further east on the Inuit dialect chain.

Incidentally, MacLean is the son of Edna Ahgeak MacLean, one of the most active Native linguists in Iñupiaq revitalization for the last few decades. She dedicated her North Slope Iñupiaq Grammar to her two sons, and I can imagine she’s very proud that one of them has just filmed an Iñupiaq-language movie.

More information about the film at its official site, although at the time being, you can’t view it there.

Fonts & abstracts

Why is it that so many linguistics conferences require abstracts in Times New Roman or other fonts not friendly to linguistics? I can understand that they want common fonts, but it’d be nice to see more conferences allow fonts that include, say, IPA. It’s a bit like physics conferences not allowing math fonts in their abstracts.


Knit one, purl two

When I’m taking a break from being a fledgling linguist, I dabble in far too many hobbies, including knitting. I just ran across one of the most unique knitting patterns I’ve seen in quite a while: a knitted inuksuk! An inuksuk (pl. inuksuit) is a stone marker used by various Inuit peoples. They’re not a common symbol in Alaska (where I do my work) like they are in Canada, but anyway, I thought it was a creative way to incorporate an important aspect of an indigenous culture into another art form with centuries of tradition.

This post brought to you by the word qiḷaun ‘knitting needle’ (Iñupiaq) and the phoneme [ʁ].

Isuma TV

This afternoon I read an ILAT message about a new website for indigenous filmmakers, Isuma TV. They have quite a few short films, many set in the arctic. Maana, for example, is a short flick about a man somewhere in Nunavut who decides on a unique approach to fighting skyrocketing energy consumption in his village. There’s quite a range of topics, from Greenlandic children’s television to Nunavut’s own Inuit rock video.

On a related note, I’m currently in Alaska doing some more fieldwork with Iñupiaq speakers. Today’s weather prompted them to teach me, among other things, the word paulġin [ġ = ʁ] , which means ‘shovel’ (n.), at least in one dialect.

I’m doing my best to wade through the dizzying number of ways to accomplish coordination and subordination in the language. One difficulty I’m having in elicitation sessions is getting examples with the valency I’m interested in. For example, if I’m trying to test constituency in transitive clauses, inevitably I get all my nouns nicely incorporated into intransitive verbs. If I’m trying to get examples of incorporated nouns, I get nothing but transitive sentences. Figures! It doesn’t mean I don’t love the examples that I’m getting, it just makes it all the more interesting seeing what I end up with.