"Brilliant idea alert: later this month, a new restaurant will be opening up in Toronto called “Signs” on 558 Yonge Street, which promises to be Canada’s first “deaf” restaurant where customers are asked to order their dinners using only American Sign Language.

Staffed primarily by deaf servers, the restaurant hopes to provide “a kind of community service for a deaf population that often struggles to find employment in a speech-oriented workforce,” reports The Star.”

Ukraine’s “The Tribe” Is a Hit at Cannes

This year’s Cannes Film Festival included a unique piece not only to the festival, but to all of cinema — “The Tribe,” a movie performed entirely in Ukrainian Sign Language, with no subtitles and no spoken language. The audacious film has so far received glowing reviews from those who attended the festival, as well as winning three prestigious International Critics’ Week awards.

Like most, we haven’t seen the movie, so we can’t make any judgement. It sounds like the abrasive subject matter and graphic scenes will put many off the movie, but the use of sign language alone makes it intriguing for us. If anyone has seen it, we’d love to hear your own review.

Here’s a round-up of some of the critical reaction to the film (keep in mind these critics are outside of the Deaf community):

Justin Chang, Variety:

"It will be especially interesting to see what deaf viewers make of Slaboshpytskiy’s highly accomplished first feature; engrossingly expanded from the writer-director’s 2010 short, “Deafness,” it’s an unflinchingly pessimistic portrait of a youthful underground subculture that has dealt with its social disadvantages by turning to thuggery and prostitution. Given the emotional/inspirational thrust of so many movies and TV shows (from “Children of a Lesser God” to TV’s “Switched at Birth”) featuring deaf characters, who are often presented in relation to their hearing friends and family, there’s something coldly bracing about “The Tribe’s” total immersion strategy, as well as its utter refusal to sentimentalize its characters and the harsh, isolated world they inhabit."

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At a deep level, changes in a language are threatening because they signal widespread changes in social mores. At a level closer to the surface they are exasperating. We learn certain rules of grammar and usage in school, and when they are challenged it is as though we are also being challenged. Our native language is like a second skin, so much a part of us we resist the idea that it is constantly changing, constantly being renewed. Though we know intellectually that the English we speak today and the English of Shakespeare’s time are very different, we tend to think of them as the same—static rather than dynamic.
Casey Miller and Kate Swift, “The Handbook of Nonsexist Writing: For Writers, Editors and Speakers.” (Link)
The 2014 World Cup kicks off today in Brazil, which will bring together people from many cultures, regions and languages. Here are the official languages of the 32 competing nations, though of course each country is made up of a multitude of different unofficial languages as well. Countries will be listed more than once if they have more than one official language.
Arabic: Algeria
Bosnian: Bosnia and Herzegovina  
Croatian: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia  
Dutch: Belgium, Netherlands
English: Australia, Cameroon, England, Ghana, Nigeria, United States
French: Belgium, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Switzerland 
German: Belgium, Germany, Switzerland
Greek: Greece
Italian: Italy, Switzerland
Japanese: Japan
Korean: Korea Republic
Persian: Iran
Portuguese: Brazil, Portugal
Romansh: Switzerland 
Russian: Russia
Serbian: Bosnia and Herzegovina 
Spanish: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay

The 2014 World Cup kicks off today in Brazil, which will bring together people from many cultures, regions and languages. Here are the official languages of the 32 competing nations, though of course each country is made up of a multitude of different unofficial languages as well. Countries will be listed more than once if they have more than one official language.

  • Arabic: Algeria
  • Bosnian: Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Croatian: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia 
  • Dutch: Belgium, Netherlands
  • English: Australia, Cameroon, England, Ghana, Nigeria, United States
  • French: Belgium, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Switzerland
  • German: Belgium, Germany, Switzerland
  • Greek: Greece
  • Italian: Italy, Switzerland
  • Japanese: Japan
  • Korean: Korea Republic
  • Persian: Iran
  • Portuguese: Brazil, Portugal
  • Romansh: Switzerland
  • Russian: Russia
  • Serbian: Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Spanish: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Spain, Uruguay

allthingslinguistic:

I’m a sucker for video scans of the vocal tract, and this is a particularly nice one, from the University of Glasgow’s quite extensive youtube inventory. I probably watched it about a dozen times, just looking at how the air builds up behind this person’s lips and tongue at various points and contrasting the vowel-only and vowel+bilabial stop versions. Cool.

Previous images of the vocal tract: this x-ray gif, this animated gif, and of course, the beatboxer video (plus IPA). 

authorsatlas:

So interesting! 

Over the course of human history, how many languages have been created? The animated video above features a four-minute TED-Ed lesson called “How Languages Evolve.”

Throughout the lesson, educator Alex Gendler talks about “how linguists group languages into language families, demonstrating how these linguistic trees give us crucial insights into the past.” Linguistics fans can visit the TED Ed website to access a quiz, a discussion board, and more resources. What do you think?

allthingslinguistic:

Schwa Fire, the digital magazine about language which you may recall from their Kickstarter last year, has come out with their first issue.  

From the announcement email: 

In this inaugural issue, we define — and defend — “language journalism.” There’s an inspirational tale about what it took for recordings of Yiddish to survive, and a warning about the dangerous path of nostalgia for American dialects. We also learn about the language of love (which, in this case, is Danish.) PLUS: there’s a word puzzle to solve. 

Some familiar authors in this first issue including Arika Okrent and Robert Lane GreeneThe “first season” will contain three issues coming out every two months (that’s May, July, and September), and after that they’ll move to a monthly schedule. 

I’ve got a subscription because I backed it on Kickstarter in November, but some of the articles are available for free, and the others are available for a small fee which goes to paying for future issues and contributors. You can also be entered to win a free subscription if you solve this puzzle

If you haven’t already subscribed, it’s only $6.99 for the first season. That’s less than one month of Netflix streaming, a grilled market salad meal at Chick-Fil-A or a single Friday night movie ticket. Go get a subscription now - it’s well worth it!

Language shift amid vast socioeconomic change and the tenacity with which groups hold on to their language despite social and political change are contradictory trends that intrigue but often frustrate language planners and scholars seeking to explain patterns of language use (Rubin 1979). In order to analyze these patterns, many scholars conceive of language as a “social resource” (Eastman 1983a) that is exploited by individuals and groups to affect personal and political outcomes. This perspective has both a micro and a macro component. Socio- and anthropological linguists who take the “micro” perspective focus their attention on individual speakers who vary their linguistic repertoires to establish or adjust their identity and/or to enhance their power. Microanalysis usually involves the systematic observation of linguistic “transactions” in complex urban environments. From these transactions, we see a world in which languages are evolving, where the boundaries between languages are fluid and weak, and in which each person has his/her own repertoire of languages and dialects.
David Laitin and Carol M. Eastman, “Language Conflict: Transactions and Games in Kenya.” Cultural Anthroplogy, Issue 4.1, February 1989. (Link)