Friday, August 24, 2012

Two Notes on Dialectology

I just came across this article on the divergence of American English in the Great Lakes region.  I'm not familiar with the dialect, but its vowel system is apparently diverging from standard American English more quickly than other dialects; cf. words like cot and caught with different vowels, unlike in my own dialect.  It's interesting to me to think about dialects in relation to (literary) Latin, which showed practically no dialectal variation across the empire for hundreds of years.  Latin, of course, did have "dialects", much like English does today, but the data are hard to find, given the authority of the literary language.  It's a fun and worthwhile exercise to point them out to students on occasion.
Secondly, the Gray-Atkinson model of the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) branching and question of its Urheimat has resurfaced in the past few days, with the same claim that PIE began to break up around 8000 BCE.  The claim reported now is that the homeland must have been located in Anatolia.  Other than the above NYT story, most of the articles I've seen (except this one) fail to mention that Indo-Europeanists largely reject this model, instead projecting the break-up to 4000-5000 BCE and placing the homeland near or in the steppes of the Ukraine, based on scientific analysis of the linguistic data (which the Gray-Atkinson model doesn't do).

Being a historical linguist, I'm fascinated by language change, but it's rather difficult to illustrate in introductory and intermediate Latin courses, especially from the historical perspective.  But demonstrable language changes like the Northern Cities Shift near the Great Lakes could help illustrate more far-reaching changes like those we see in the developments from PIE.  And perhaps we can also arrive at an understanding that glottochronology isn't as easy as plugging words into a computer without really considering the data.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sounds in Oaxacalifornia

The 18th Street Arts Center is currently hosting an exhibition called Prospecting Notes About Sound by Gala Porras-Kim through September 7.  While the indigenous language Zapoteco isn't Indo-European, I'm excited to have a look at it.  Her project is linguistic-based and explores the musical quality of the tonal language, and so could provide some interesting parallels to the pitch-based Ancient Greek.  Additionally, I gather that Zapoteco has several dialectal features, much like Greek did.
I'm also curious to learn whether I can do something similar around Latin, asking students to craft a project that uses the sounds of Latin artistically.  Perhaps it could help students to get a better understanding of how the language sounded, though I think that it'll be more difficult doing a project along these lines with a dead language.  More to come, and I'll have more ideas after I see the exhibition.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lion Attacking a Horse at the Getty Villa

Another shameless Getty Villa plug:  the Lion Attacking a Horse exhibition has just opened, featuring the eponymous statue on loan from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, and will be featured until 2/4, 2013.  The video below details its installation in the Villa's atrium.
On Thursday, 8/23 at 3pm (with repeats on 9/20, 10/25, 11/29, and 12/20), Villa curators will lead free 45min. gallery talks on the piece and its installation.  Additionally, they will offer a $35 ($28 for students) course on Saturday, 12/8 at 1pm on the history and iconography of this fantastic sculpture.

Last year, we offered a field trip to the Getty Villa that included a tour and scavenger hunt designed around the collection.  I think that we'll do something similar this year, though now focusing on the Lion.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Hobbit in Latin

Mark Walker's Latin translation of The Hobbit is available for pre-order (available September 13).  My students have enjoyed the bits of the Latin Harry Potter series we've read in class, and I'm now eager to have a look at Hobbitus Ille. With the release of the new Hobbit movie this December, I'm expecting that there should be a good deal of interest in the book.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Helen at the Villa in September

The Getty Villa will be staging Euripides' Helen this fall Thursdays-Saturdays in the month of September.  Tickets are $42 ($38 for students), and $25 preview shows will be held 8/30-9/1.  Don't miss it!

Beautiful Evil: The Challenge of Helen of Troy

Ruby Blondell is coming to the Getty Villa Saturday, 9/15 at 2pm to give a free public lecture Beautiful Evil: The Challenge of Helen of Troy.  She's a well-known Classicist from the University of Washington, and the lecture should be very interesting.