Spectacles of Language
A young friend of mine graduated from college with a degree in linguistics and landed a summer job at Google. Her classmates had scoffed at her choice of the seemingly antiquated course of study, but it turns out that her knowledge of how children acquire language is of value to the computer scientists working on voice recognition.
One takeaway is that Google wants to hear what your kids are saying as soon as they possibly can.
The other takeaway is that studying linguistics is in line with the cultural zeitgeist.
Two events around town this weekend deal with the changing status of language in our culture – one a film by Godard and one an evening at the Hammer.
This young woman grew up in a multi-lingual family and was fascinated by how things were named. And how meaning was produced by language — after all, a physical object (think fork) is the same object no matter if the word is English, or German, or Italian. When I was studying semiotics in college, I watched many films about “wild” children – theoreticians and linguists were fascinated with how children who were raised literally by wolves, were acculturated.
What we say affects meaning.
Godard: Students of semiotics worship legendary French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard for pushing the envelope of intellect and meaning through his filmmaking. His 2014 Cannes Prize-winning 3D spectacular, Goodbye to Language, is in town for a week, at the Aero Theater. Here’s a link to the theater’s site. It’s about a dog (Godard’s own) who wanders from the city into the countryside and witnesses a couple’s relationship. Critics adore the film (it won the National Society of Film Critics) and here is a glowing, just published, review from the Los Angeles Times. The movie is just over an hour long, but is definitely for Godardians only. It’s fractured and breaks all the rules of continuity – of image, of season and definitely of storytelling.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 27, 2015 at The Hammer: Endangered Languages is an evening performance featuring presentations from various local endangered language communities -Aztec, Ha waiian, Welsh – as well as excerpts from a PBS film Language Matters with Bob Holman, a film by David Grubin, which asks What do we lose when a language dies and what does it take to save a language?