Anthropological Linguistics

I found a neat book at the thrift store but I don’t know when I will ever have the time and the sound mind to get into it. It’s about Anthropological Linguistics. History and culture of words is something I read about in bits and pieces. I like knowing the background story to the evolution of words, how they came to exist, how they were changed over time. Words are like pebbles on a beach, weathered by nature.

Language is a truly fascinating and enigmatic phenomenon. The scientific discipline that aims to study it, in all its dimensions, is known as linguistics. The particular approach that studies the relation between language, thought, and culture is known as anthropological linguistics (AL).

Taken from the Preface of the book: “A Basic Course in Anthropological Linguistics” by Marcel Danesi.

Sharing Life Stories

From A Storied Career on Twitter, I found out about International Day for Sharing Life Stories.

…encouraging individuals and organizations to this year’s 3rd International Day for Sharing Life celebration on May 16, 2010!
As in the prior years, we encourage you to consider any number of activities, including:

  • Story Circles in schools, community centers, homes, and churches
  • Public open-microphone performances of stories
  • Exhibitions of stories in public venues as image, text, and audio-visual materials
  • Celebratory events to honor local storytellers, practitioners and organizations
  • Open houses for organizations with a life-story sharing component
  • Online simultaneous gatherings, postings, and story exchanges
  • Print, Radio and Television broadcast programming on life stories, and documentaries that feature oral histories and story exchanges

How much of your life story would you share? It is one thing to tell a friend, quite another to put it out there for anyone and everyone to read or hear. Everyone has things we keep to ourselves. But, the overall story could be shared. Still, if you keep out all the juicy bits, the scary parts and the real emotion, any life story becomes bland.

Think of sharing your life story as a test of your own boldness. Yet, keep in mind that you don’t know who may read or hear it down the road. That is just a sad facet of our digi culture.

Bullfighting Family Man

Watching an animal show about animals in trouble and animal attacks. Up came a bit about Brandon McClure, bullfighter. It was shown over and over (as these shows love to replay the action about a dozen times), Brandon being thrown by a bull, 5 or 6 different times. Once he was thrown about 15 feet into the air. He did survive. In his interview he talks all macho about fighting and courage.

Brandon has a wife. She is there watching. I didn’t hear if there were also children. Possibly there were or there are by now. Does it occur to anyone but myself how irresponsible and downright selfish it is for a married man (a family man) to be fighting bulls for no reason but sport? It’s one thing to be an adrenaline junkie when you’re single and won’t make your wife a widow. Even then most of these guys do have parents and other family. At least they are not dependents or partners.

I think it is incredibly selfish, self-centred and uncaring to take stupid risks with your life just for sport when he is a family man. If he wanted that kind of life he should never have chosen to be with someone. No one during the filming of the show seemed to consider this. But, it gave me a tear to watch it and see the wife report what she had seen and felt on the scene. He recovered and was back to bullfighting less than a week later. It must be some kind of culture thing or blindspot. What do you think? Could you write an essay on the topic?

Imagination, the Monster

The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination. – Richard Wright

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your own imagination? All the stuff locked up, and ever expanding, inside your own head?

I feel that everything we see, smell, hear, taste and touch becomes a part of us. It never leaves, even if we can’t bring it to mind when we try to think of it. All of it is still there. Our imagination takes it all and mingles it in new ways, finding new ideas from the database we give it.

This is why I don’t like violence shown in the media. It becomes part of our culture, part of our surroundings and part of our imagination. Whether you believe it, or not. Nothing that goes into your mind is ever really lost. Like karma, it will come back to you in ways you can not imagine.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow…

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.” – Orison Marden

A better tomorrow. So much of our culture is based on a better tomorrow, having hope and a future to look forward to. It’s eerie that our tomorrow could be just tomorrow and no days after it. We look to the future for good things, hoping things will be better and yet we live every moment with the fact that all our tomorrows may never come.

What do you want for tomorrow, your day tomorrow, the morning after tonight? What do you want for tomorrows far into the future, for future generations even? Are the two tomorrows very different?


What the ear does not hear cannot move the heart. — Cape Breton saying

March 25th I am attending a local Storytelling workshop. I’m looking forward to it and I really like Joanne, the woman who does the workshop. Today I looked up storytelling to find out a bit more and see what we might be doing in the workshop, just curious. There are a vast amount of resources for storytelling online.

From Wikipedia: Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, images, and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture and in every land as a means of entertainment, education, preservation of culture and in order to instill moral values. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot and characters, as well as the narrative point of view.

Storytellers of Canada

Storytelling Toronto

Vancouver Storytelling

Ottawa Storytellers

National Storytelling Network (USA)

International Storytelling Center

Society for Storytelling (UK)

Australian Storytelling

Professional Storyteller Network

World Storytelling Day is March 20th. Great timing for my workshop.

Digital Storytelling and Digistories

High Brow and Low Brow

Have you heard the terms “high brow” and “low brow” before?

High brow being something elitist and cultured and low brow (a negative term for popular culture)  being something very casual and possibly tacky.

Make a list of things you like yourself or things (events, hobbies, etc) which a character likes. Choose which are high brow and which are low brow. A character with a lot of high brow activities isn’t likely to have a low brow personality. Also, making a list like this gives your character a chance to evolve and be more than words on a page. Introduce some new pop culture or unique event to your readers. Make your story memorable by showing them a whole new world.

Elevators and Escalators

When I commuted to work, back and forth on the buses, trains and subways in Toronto, I remember how annoyed I would feel about people who behave like farm animals, sheep and cattle, following a herd mentality.

You’ve seen it. Everyone gets off the bus and goes into the train station. At the first door they all stop and each one goes through the same door, following the leader. Why don’t they open the other doors? There can be a whole row of a dozen doors yet they all wait in turn to go through just that one door opened by the leader. I used to walk around the flock and open my own new door. Then I would become the leader and they flowed behind me. It was funny to watch every commuting day.

We like to write about characters, people who open that new door or do something less predictable. Main characters are usually in the middle of some kind of change, someone who isn’t following the herd. How can you use an ordinary thing from our urban culture to show how a person has looked up from their feet and begun to look around at the world around them, opening new doors? Think of elevators and escalators if you’re stuck for an idea, urban transportation at it’s best.

Passionate About…

“The creative process is not computer software that provides all the answers at the click of a mouse. Rather, the process is a mysterious beast who comes to sit by your side and befriend you only after you’ve stroked and fed it every day for a long, long time. This beast demands your care and nuturing, it wants to build up your trust, and it craves your love, because in truth, that beast is you. More people don’t create than do because they cannot give themselves that critical extra bit of love.” – Suzanne Falter-Barnes

At the end of this chapter was a writing exercise: write down (for three minutes) everything you are passionate about. Here are mine.

-ideas -philosophy – marketing/ promotion
-old things -buildings – gadgets
-pirates -dragons
-sewing – creating – stitching -embroidery -quilting
-the rain – water -ocean, lake
-fire -wood -stone, rock, pebbles
-growing things -garden
-places -history -culture
-women as a culture -traditions
-nature -outdoors
-ice cream
-travel -backpacking -road trips
-Internet -web building
-optimism -cheery – positive
-singing/ dancing alone
-drawing -art – graphics -ASCII art
-nights and mornings
-mysteries -unknown -Wicca -possibilities -science fiction
-Victoria Holt and Shirley Jackson style writing/ books