Memrise Meminence ranking

I use memrise.com a lot. It is one of my preferred language learning sites.

It has been about two or two and a half years.

picture of Memrise Meminence award

Memrise Meminence award

I’ve finally made it to the “Meminence” ranking, which is nice.

More importantly, you will note the “5,619” words learned statement. It is interesting because is a massively low-balled number. They count every phrase as a “word”. Since lots of the language courses teach more than single words on a card, the 5,619 is way low. Note I’m am not unhappy about that.

So far, I’ve renewed my contact with Spanish. Learned more German, which STILL has a long way to go. I’ve started playing with French. I’ve gone through the ASL finger spelling course and the braille course. I’ve gone through at least two Toki Pona courses, for all the good that that did me. I am going through a Heisig Kanji course and have gotten through maybe 400 characters. Hiragana and Katakana have also been conquered, with lots of bumbling still involved in the review quizes. I touched LIGHTLY on the Korean characters, Hangul. I’ve decided to come back to that when I have more time. If I was still subscribed to Hulu and watching all of those made in Korea movies, I would give it a higher priority. Even if you don’t speak the language, being able to sound out the words can sometimes be interesting.

The next highest ranking is at 50,000,000 points. Given the current rate, I could achieve that ranking in the year 2025.

The real test comes down to what have I actually learned. My Spanish is much better and my German is weak but usable. I think I could carry out basic interactions in Spanish without issue. The German would be messy but doable. My French is at about 400 words which has some use but not much. I can read braille but I have lots of trouble feeling the braille. I have to slowly feel each character and decoding which bumps are there is maybe 70% on a good day, 40% on a bad day? My ASL finger-spelling is fine. I read the book “I Am Number Four” in an ASL finger spelling font. Yes, you read that correctly! So I think that I might not have a lot of speed, I can understand and use finger-spelling. When I sound out Katakana and Hiragana, I make mistakes. Sometimes I nail it, many times I at least get somewhere in the ballpark.

Some people ask why I bother since I really have no desire to talk to foreigners. I learned Spanish because there are enough speakers in my area to make it potentially useful. If I lived in some parts of California, I would pick up either Korean or Mandarin, depending on which was used more in the area that I was in.

I have learned some German to read German books. I have access to quite a few German sci-fi books and I want to eventually read them. Can you say Perry Rhodan with a volume count of 2,500 books? I’ve read the first 130 in English, but the others were never translated. I have access to many of those untranslated volumes.

Learning a bit of sign language has been interesting and a great way to analyze just how we communicate. While I will never have the vocab to really get the job done, I can handle the rudiments of ASL.

Toki Pona was another proof of concept language. I have never seriously tackled a conlang and I figured one with only 130 words would be fun without being a nightmare. If I were much younger, Esperanto would have been a necessity!

The Kanji is useful when a Kanji character pops up in a Japanime production. It can be fun to actually have an idea as to what is on the screen. I have no real use for Kanji, but I find the characters fascinating. My goal is to eventually get through the entire Heisig collection of about 2,500 characters. No pressure, no rush.

Stand by. I will try to update you in 2025.

Toki Pona

Toki Pona is a constructed language created by a Canadian, Sonja Lang. Her idea was to create an absolutely minimalist language. She wanted to seek some of the answers in life by eliminating all of the noise that comes from unneeded complexity. It started as a private endeavor, but eventually, people got access to the language.

The language consists of 120 words. It has the same vowels as English. It has fourteen letters. The consonants are; J, K, M, P, T, W L, N, and S. The way I remember the consonants is to use the phrase: Just Kill Mean People’s Tap Water Leave No Sign. The accent is always on the first Syllable

The language is not meant for physics and advanced mathematics, it is designed for simple communication involving the here and now.

To steal a phrase from Christopher Huff at the Polyglot Gathering at Berlin in 2014, “I am a dilettante with the language”, because you aren’t going to find many people talking in Toki Pona.

To discuss things, you are forced to clearly define the concepts, using simple building blocks to make your message clear. This “simplicity” can rapidly become complexity wrapped in ambiguity. That complexity can become clarity, because of that same ambiguity and simplicity combination.

Toki Pona, the name of the language, is toki (talking, communicating, speaking) and pona (good, simple, to repair). A friend would be jan (person) pona (good), a good person, a friend.

Interestingly enough, there are several ways to communicate in Toki Pona. In addition to the typical english alphabet, there is a Toki Pona sign language and there is a set of hieroglyphs.

It is an interesting language.

Anyone wanting to look into the language might want to look into the following links;
Wiki with simple lessons

Lessons in pdf form

The following video gives a one hour intro to the language:

Toki Pona, the 120-Word Language – Christopher Huff at the Polyglot Gathering Berlin 2014 direct link

Geek Language Overload

While looking at the available language flashcards on www.memrise.com, I hit “other”. The collection of interesting geek languages included;

Aurebesh (Star Wars)
Daedric alpahbet (Elder Scrolls video game)
Defiance Languages
Dothraki
Dovahzul: Skyrim (video game)
Dragon Alphabet
Elvish (Quenya – Tolkien)
High Valyrian (Song of Ice and Fire – Game of Thrones)
Hylian Writing Systems (Zelda video game)
Ido (constructed language)
Interlingua (constructed language)
Irathient language (Defiance)
Khuzdul (Dwarfs – Tolkien)
Lidepla (constructed language)
Lingua Franca Nova (constructed language)
Nadsat (A Clockwork Orange)
Sindarin (Elf – Tolkien)
Tengwar (Quenya mode)
Theban (Witch’s) Alphabet
Twilight Hylian writing
Volapük (constructed language)

NOTE: When I indicate “(constructed language)”, I am aware of the fact that ALL of the languages fall under that designation, but my intention is to indicate that languages so tagged are more general attempts at constructed languages and not tied to any particular science fiction or fantasy worlds.

They did NOT have Klingon… Since that language is copyrighted, I understood why. I did not see Nav’i and that was a surprise.

Councilman resigns in Klingon

David Waddell, an Indian Trail city councilman, resigned in Klingon.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/01/02/4582880/indian-trail-councilman-resigns.html

He expressed frustration with what he saw as runaway development in the town as well as concerns with how requests for public information were being handled. In November, the council tabled a plan to establish more fees for some public records and add more restrictions on how records could be viewed.

I don’t know which I like more. The Klingon resignation or the concern that he has with transparency in government.

All I can say to that magnificent bastard is kahplah!

From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages

I’m just finishing a one week vacation. While I was on vacation, I did some reading. I read “From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages” by Michael Adams. He had some very interesting things to say about various invented languages. Newspeak, used in the book 1984, brought up the subject of the Sapir-Whorf theory. The theory has to do with the concept of changing human thoughts, and therefore actions, by carefully crafting language to eliminate or at least significantly reduce certain ideas. George Orwell had an appendix end of his book that discussed the framework of that language. This was a subject he found interesting and wrote about more than once.

Nadsat, from A Clockwork Orange, was also discussed in detail. Apparently, this language had eastern bloc roots. Ironically, the author really had not intended to highlight the glorified violence but merely to use it as a method of discussing how societies are affected by language. The movie, adapted from his book, went with the violence and completely changed the message. I also learned that there was an additional chapter omitted from the American release of the book . I had not known that.

There were quite a few references to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series and the languages that he invented. Tolkien’s languages are quite extensive and have very interesting histories. He did not just invent languages for his books he invented histories discussed their evolution and created a linguists fantasy world.

Klingon was also discussed, but I believe the book In the Land of Invented Languages, by Arika Okrent covered that language much more effectively. Her book was even referenced in this one a few times.

The subject of revitalized languages was discussed. The quick overview of the recreation of the Hebrew language was a fascinating read. The incredible lengths that they went to to standardize the language was interesting to me. The attempt to systematically eliminate Yiddish as much as possible was interesting decision. On one hand, they needed to have a standardized new Hebrew language. On the other hand, they needed to eliminate any competitors to that standardization. To put it another way, to revitalize the Hebrew language they had to attack the language used by those with Jewish heritage. Looking at revitalized languages, the only way revitalization succeeds is if there is a standardization and its standardization comes a cost. Even more interesting, the fact that there were so many things and concepts that have come into existence since the time of the historical language on which the modern day Hebrew language is based on, required the addition of quite a few new words. Put more simply, the modern day Hebrew language is only distantly related to the original, at best!

The subject of endangered languages also came up. There was discussion about the various reasons that native speakers of dying languages do not appreciate the attempts to revitalize and save their language heritages. The fact that those attempting to save the languages often create a new language was a fascinating insight. The Irish language has been going through this process for a while. Those learning the language in educational institutions are not learning the language spoken by those who learned the language in a day-to-day manner.

Those trying to save a dying language have two choices. They can either revitalize the language by creating a new one vaguely related on the original language or they can let that language die. Lets be blunt, languages die for a reason. Granted, history demands that we keep as much information about the languages as possible, but that does not require saving the language.

The politics behind some of the revitalization efforts was also discussed. Where someone is trying to revitalize a language, they are also attempting to create a group. That group is seen as politically useful, or the revitalization effort would probably not occur. One of the languages he touched on was the Hawaiian language. Based on what I have read from other articles about that effort, the politics behind the revitalization of the Hawaiian language could fill an encyclopedia.

The subject of languages used in computer games was also discussed. This was an entirely new area for me. Games that try to create languages must attempt to serve many conflicting goals. It’s worth reading the book just to see how messy this issue is.