Thursday, January 21, 2010

Irish Language Revival Attempts

As my current linguistic obsession is the Irish language (Gaeilge) I decided that today's post would be about modern attempts to revive the language. Not to say that it is dead! According to Wikipedia's article, there are 355,000 fluent/native speakers (1983); 538,000 everyday speakers (2006); and 1.86 million speakers with some degree of knowledge of the language (2006), a statistic I am proud to be a part of.

As Wikipedia is pretty much my favorite website and the first place I go when seeking knowledge, I am go there to read about modern language revival. Gaelscoileanna are schools were Gaeilge is the working language. With approximately 50,000 students enrolled, the Gaelscoileanna project has became the most succesful minority language immersion program in all of Europe.

In 2006, Gaeilge was added as the 21st official language of the EU. This of course gave Irish more exposure and I'm sure many people have undertaken a study of the language as a result.

The Constitution of Ireland/Bunreacht na hÉireann recognizes Gaeilge as the official language of the Republic of Ireland. All publicly-funded schools in the Republic of Ireland are required to teach Gaeilge.

There are some sections of Ireland known as Gaeltachtaí where Gaeilge is the primary language spoken.

So what can we do as individuals to add to the revival attempts? Well, learn Gaeilge of course! Try to get friends and family interested, talk about the language on whatever sites you frequent or blogs you own, start your own conversation groups, etc. The fact that you read this blog means that you're probably interested in linguistics so you probably have plenty of ideas of your own. Don't underestimate the power of YouTube! If you're interested, type "as Gaeilge" into YouTube's search box, there are several people who post videos speaking only Gaeilge.

Adh mór ort, agus slán!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why Care About Constructed Languages?

To those of you interested in the psycholinguistics field, constructed languages might seem like some sort of a dark art. The people who make them generally are a little different, there are few of them (good ones at least), and most people don’t talk about them very much. Even, the world famous J.R.R. Tolkien called them a “secret vice;” however, constructed languages can be so much more than that.

The act of constructing a language gives insight into all languages in general and, most importantly, your own mind. It makes you think about language in a whole new light. It does this, because it not only forces you to examine the logic behind your own language but examine the possible logics of other languages. Also, it highlights the biases that your native language has bestowed upon you—something that any linguistic scientist must be aware of. Language creation isn’t just for personal benefit, though.

Many constructed languages are created to see how linguistic concepts affect people. Probably the most fundamental example would be Loglan. This logical language was created to test the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (the idea that language shapes our reality). This hypothesis is the underlying assumption of many of the concepts in the psycholinguistic field.

Now that it is clear why language creation is important to psycholinguistics, the next step is to explore the process of artificial language creation.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I recently purchased the February 2010 issue of Psychology Today. In the How To section (p 28), there is a technique called brainwriting.

Oftentimes during a brainstorm session people get off topic, differing views clash, and time is wasted. Usually someone will have to wait for several minutes as others present their ideas, and God forbid being the last person to speak because you'll have everybody else to go before you.

A recent study, undertaken by business professor Perter Heslin of Southern Methodist University, shows that brainwriting can produce ideas with higher quality and efficiency than traditional brainstorming methods. Because there is no need for facilitators and there is no "production blocking," brainwriting appears (to me) to be better, although I have not had a chance to put the technique into practice but will report back when I have done so.

The Process:

1. Everyone in the group sits at the table with a pen (each team member must have different-color ink) and paper. Each member writes out a single idea on the piece of paper and passes it to their right. According to Heslin, "Using different-color pens can be stressful, but more people participate and everyone is accountable for their ideas."

2. Upon receiving a piece of paper, read the idea(s) and add your own. If you can't think of anything, just pass the paper and wait for the next one.

3. When each paper has about five ideas, place it in the center of the table. When all slips are done, begin the pass-and-read cycle again for analytical purposes. "After the ideas are out there, there's a nedd for systematic consideration of each idea."

4. Each participant makes a list of their favorite idea, and the most popular are recorded. "When the group is committed, they are usually surprised with what they achieve."

I'll apply this technique as soon as possible, but any feedback is appreciated as always!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Language Awards

I found this list on a new blog (find here) and thought I'd repost with my own answers. Comment back with your own!

Best Pronunciation: Russian
Most interesting script, non-Latin: Sogdian
Most interesting use of the Latin script: Vietnamese
Script best suited to the language: Hebrew
Script worst suited to the language: Arabic
Prettiest non-Latin script: Lepcha
Prettiest use of the Latin script: Irish

Most interesting phonology: Klingon
Least interesting phonology: Spanish, English, French
Most interesting use of loans: Russian
Least interesting use of loans: English

Happiest language: French (not sure)
Angriest language: German
Hardest language: Arabic, Japanese/Chinese
Easiest language: French

Coolest IAL:
Dumbest IAL:
Coolest conlang:
Dumbest conlang:

Coolest conscript: Nirichaen
Dumbest conscript: Chromaphonoglyphics

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Agressive behaivor and environmental causes

Ok, this is my first psychological blog post.

Is aggression and anger caused by childhood environmental issues, such as abuse by parents, or is it choice based?

A lot of times, people will try to justify aggressive actions (verbal or otherwise) by saying that they cannot be blamed because the way they acted is not their choice, it is caused by their environment. Often they blame their childhood, 'well my parents were abusive, my parents divorced,' etc. Is this true? Do you aggressively react to a given situation because you are mentally incapable of reacting in any other manner, or do you choose to do so?

I am mainly opposed to the theory that such behavior is caused through environmental issues. You can only blame others for your feelings to a certain degree, and in my opinion that degree is incredibly small. There is a point where it becomes a crutch allowing you to rationalize outrages actions. Something I've often read and heard during my discussions with friends on this topic is "you're not your parents". Ultimately your actions are your own, and you must take responsibility for them. You cannot continue to blame outside influences for internal reactions, it just is not a plausible occurrence.

The use of this justification shows emotional immaturity. In addition, victimized feelings can cause many harmful feelings and even some psychological disorder.

In the end, I do not have the basis to definitively say that the environmental cause justification is false. But it is definitely my opinion, and a subject I plan to continue researching.

Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dr Alexander Arguelles

Céad míle fáilte!

I have decided to undertake the study of the Irish language. I did this once about a year ago, but I quickly gave up due to the difficulty of the language. Well I have decided to devote study and effort to Gaeilge so wish me luck! I have decided to create a concrete list of the languages I want to speak at the moment:

Enlish (no study needed)
Spanish/Español (maintenance)

Arabic and Hebrew are possible contenders for the list in later times.

Throughout the course of my linguistics research, I have came across a man named Dr Alexander Arguelles. I don't see a reason to take up space on my blog going through his personal history, if you are interested you can no doubt find any information you seek. What I will say is that Dr Arguelles appears to be a brilliant linguist and what is known as a polyglot, someone who is capable of speaking many languages. His YouTube channel contains several dozen videos on various linguistic topics. I have not been able to view as many of them as I would like, but of particular interest to myself are his videos describing a language learning method which he developed called shadowing and accent acquisition. This involves listening to an audio recording in the target language, along with an accompanying text of the audio, and repeating aloud the audio. I have not tested this method on my own, but when I do there will be a subsequent posting on my personal experiences.

Here is his website for anyone interested.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

A few random notes on language

First of all, after reading Annoyances: Couldn't/could care less on the Language Trainers Blog, I have a few thoughts to share.

First of all is the point of their blog post, the annoying instances of most people (especially here in America) saying "I could care less". Think about this phrase for a moment. When you say "I could care less," what do you actually mean? That your current level of caring cannot be any lower, right? So instead, please remember to say "I couldn't care less"!

Here is an image from the Language Trainers Blog, which they originally "borrowed" from

Second on the list of my linguistic annoyances is something I heard my father say earlier this evening. When someone's talking about something that is really not that great, the word worthless will often be used. But we don't say worthless, do we? The word used is actually 'workless'. Upon typing this word, my spell check tells me that it's not even a real word. Nor does it convey the intended meaning. Worth and work are two very different concepts.

I am beginning a book called "Linguistics and Reading" by Charles C. Fries. It appears to be quite informative, and I can't wait to read more!

Also earlier this evening, I have brought on a guest author. A friend of mine named Matthew CE, knows quite a bit about linguistics and specifically constructed languages (conlangs). His first piece will be a multi part series on the process of language construction.

Time for me to be getting back to my reading now. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Hello everyone, I'm Dillon D. This is my second blog, the first aimed towards military/intelligence topics as that is one of my primary interests. LinguSi is the name I developed for this blog, combining linguistics and psychology, my other primary interests.

This blog will not be terribly technical in nature, as I am nowhere near the knowledge level in either subject that I would prefer to be. I intend to enroll in the University of Colorado where I can major in psych with a minor in linguistics.

My spoken languages:

English (native language)
Spanish (2 1/2 years school training, ending in 2006)
French (1/2 year school training)
Russian (self-study)

I recently found a video version of the UC Berkley Psychology 1 cource which I will start studying soon.

I'm off for now, so I'll bid you farewell in the language of my heritage, slán go fóill!