Universala lingvo? A universal language?

When we last left our intrepid linguist, she had presented you all with a puzzle: Merkredon, vi legos pri konstru lingvoj.

The language is Esperanto, and it means “On Wednesday, you will read about constructed languages.” Congratulations to M.Howalt who correctly identified the language and was able to sort out at least part of the sentence! If anyone else wants to devise some clever Esperanto party tricks, or just mess with people (something Yours Truly would definitely approve of), you can find a translation website here.

I remember first learning about Esperanto as a teenager and thinking how cool it would be if everyone really did learn it. I loved the idea of a tool that would make communication possible with anyone and everyone. As with many other things, however, this was a romanticized idea, though it would take me years to understand why. Continue reading

Pick a language, any language

There is a new women’s clothing store on the corner of 2nd Ave and 41st Street in Manhattan. Apart from the distressing orange and paisley strapless jumper displayed in the window, the thing that stood out about this store was its name: Dor L’Dor. Seeing the sign across the street all during brunch, we could not help but discuss the name. It was generally agreed that it was a dumb name that didn’t actually mean anything. The L’ gave the illusion of French, but then it should be Le Dor. But ‘dor’ isn’t a word in French, unless it’s d’or, which means ‘of gold’. Then at least it would D’or le D’or…which makes absolutely no sense.

But the word seemed very familiar to me and I was left with one of the odd situations that comes from knowing a word and what it means, but not remembering which language it belongs to. Didn’t it mean ‘difficult’? No, that’s zor in Turkish. I almost confused it for cor in Italian, which means ‘heart’. I stopped eating and adopted my thinking face so I could concentrate. I then tuned out all the laughter at seeing by my thinking face. Finally, it hit me. Continue reading

A Language Lesson, or How I Got on the Wrong Bus and Ended Up in Asia

As you read the following description, you may be tempted to think at times that I am engaging in hyperbole for dramatic effect, or possibly that I am misremembering things as more absurd than they really were. Memory, after all, is a slippery fish. I assure you, however, that things happened as I record them here, so just sit back and enjoy the comfort of being anywhere in the world but the İstanbul Posta Müdürlüğü. Continue reading