Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Marc Okrand

You have probably never heard of Marc Okrand, but I bet you have heard of what he has done – he created the Klingon language for the Star Trek movies. I’m no trekkie, but this doesn’t prevent me from being impressed nonetheless. This is an amazing feat when you think about it.

Language is a terribly complex tool – the more I learn about linguistics, the more impressed I am that we are able to understand each other at all! (I won’t go into a rant about that at the present moment). Have you ever tried to learn an additional language? In addition to the vocabulary there are all the grammar rules, verb tenses, and then all of the irregular rules that languages have. In English alone there are 12 different verb tenses: simple, progressive, perfect and perfect progressive, each of these can be put into the past, present and future. Now imagine creating a system like that in another language! Not all languages have the same amount of verb tenses, of course, but that was just to give an example of how complex a language is.

Klingon, as it turns out, is a rather extensive language. It is apparently rather difficult to learn. What is rather interesting, however, is that even Shakespeare has been translated into Klingon. Last fall, the Washington Shakespeare Company performed parts of both “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing” in Klingon. The lines were even performed in iambic pentameter. How cool is that?

Marc Okrand is an American linguist and although Klingon is his most notable achievement, he has also worked with Disney. Remember the 2001 movie “Atlantis: The Lost Empire?” Marc Okrand created the language the Atlantean’s spoke. This language was apparently designed to act as a “mother language,” or a language from which the other world languages could possibly have evolved. This language was made to resemble Indo-European in turns of vocabulary, but had its own grammar system. Who would have thought so much thought would have gone into creating a fictional language for a cartoon? I think it is rather interesting that the creators of this movie tried to paint Atlantis as possibly being the birth of civilization on our world, or at least of the “Western” world.

I stumbled upon this information when writing a paper for a class. I’m glad I get to study things I find endlessly fascinating. :)

“Any man who does not make himself proficient in at least two languages other than his own is a fool.”  ~Martin H. Fischer

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dear Diary...

I suppose I’ll spend this first post introducing myself. I always have trouble starting things like this. Writing a blog always reminds me of having a diary – except instead of it being private the whole world can see it.

When I was a kid I always kept a diary, and the first page was always the hardest to write. Maybe I put too much thought into it, but I always had to decide if I was writing the diary as if it was for myself, or for someone else. Should I write “Dear Diary,” or just start writing? Do I explain every little thing that is going on, or just assume that years later I’ll remember who everyone was and their relationships with each other? Should I chronicle my whole day, or just highlight the important parts? I always started my diaries with the grand intentions of writing in them every day. That never worked, of course. I’d write faithfully for the first few days, maybe for a week, and then the entries were sporadic, first once a week, then once a month. Finally, it would end when I would clean my room and find the diary again, and write “sorry I haven’t written in so long…” (Who was I apologizing to?!?).

This cycle seemed to repeat itself every year, as I nearly always got a new diary for Christmas. When I read through these old diaries, they make me laugh – why was there so much drama with the Science Fair in both 4th and 5th grade? Why did we tease that boy (I won’t say his name...) so mercilessly? And wow, I really did hate my older sister. (Don’t worry, we get along just fine now that we are adults!). What I think it the most ridiculous, though, is that I used to come home and write in my diary about what I learned in math that day. I would explain whatever new concept we learned, and then do sample problems in my diary.  I LOVED math in elementary school. What happened?

Anyway – to tell you a little bit about me. I am a senior at Purdue University, but I’m not graduating quite yet. I am in the college of Liberal Arts triple majoring in Creative Writing, Linguistics, and French with a minor in Anthropology. Fun fact – I came to Purdue with the intentions of being an engineer! That only lasted a semester. I’ve always wanted to be an author and the moment I learned that Purdue offered a degree in Creative Writing I knew I needed to be in that program. I was never cut out to be an engineer anyway. I probably could stayed in the Engineering program and graduated, but I would have been an AWFUL Engineer, and you don’t want awful engineers designing your bridges or aircraft. Now, whether I’ll be an amazing author is really up for the masses to decide. The writing program here has taught me a lot, but I know I still have a lot father to go.

Hopefully this blog won’t go the way of my diaries, forgotten and laughable! I won’t mind the latter, but hopefully I’ll be able to post fairly regularly.

Thanks for reading!

“The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom.”  ~Jon Stewart