from artificial code to organic language

There are some wonderful layers of meaning conveyed by Rosa Lee in this music video, which is performed bilingually, in spoken English and American Sign Language.

“All I Want” opens with a literal translation of the English lyrics into a manual code that is not ASL. There is a transition – see if you can spot it – when Rosa … Read more...


I cannot disclose the location, nor can I say under what auspices I came to be here (with a small group having lunch with the CEO of an important multinational corporation). I can say the meal was delectable all the way through, from aperitif to braised scallops to the main dish and dessert.
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The conversation was lively, from a comparison …


Some days are just quiet.
I decided to play tourist and went looking for a museum and a recommended bookshop. I found a church! (Make of it what you will!) Street names here change every few blocks, requiring navigational vigilance.
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Some time thereafter, I stumbled upon a square, Mechelse Plain, in full preparations for an art opening, featuring the photography … Read more...

“the fragile, groping thread of communication”

Foundation and Empire
Isaac Asimov
p. 76, 2004 Bantam Edition
originally published: 1952

Any language used to describe the situation is tricky; ignorance is helpful. (No one expects an American to know anything substantive: “How do you know?!” one man asked, amazed I even had a clue.)
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I first learned about the Belgian language crisis from Jeff. Hints … Read more...

Cairn at the Crossroads

Om Mani Padmi Om.jpg
Some thirty stalwart spirits braved the edge of Hurricane Hannah to begin building “Belchertown’s own pyramid.” Sailing knots secured the tarp which – propped up by two ladders – withstood the night, protecting us from the downpour and thrilling us with sounds of rain and wind as we christened the cairn near midnight with Wrongo Dongo. Howls mixed with … Read more...

space out of time

The first act of will is to decide that time does not matter.

The second is to surrender will to the rock.


Immersed in the presence of this new language, I forgot that I was here for a reason! “We know you love your metaphors,” Rachel teased before I came. The other roommate just laughed. ­čÖé

Lauren described my fourth

la belle langue!

Last night I hosted my first Fete Francophone. My guests parler-voused Francaise off-and-on (they promise to exclude me more, next time). ­čśë Many wonderful language stories though – oh, the faux paux’s I can anticipate!
I was also introduced to some music (Jacques Brel, MC Solaar, and Les Négresse Vertes), a news broadcast (Actualités), … Read more...


There are concerns being raised about translating the research invitation to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). My friends and colleagues composing the Translation Team (!) are encountering the challenges of linguistic rotation. I am borrowing the technical term, rotation, from matrix algebra. (Disclaimer: four decades later I begin to learn math!)
Which should I write first: the …