What is this blog?

"Words and sounds carry histories with them. Not only their own histories, but those of people who have uttered those words."- Me aka Yash.
I pay attention to people speaking. Their choice of words, their choice of pronunciation. And whenever I do hear something which I do not use, I feel obliged to attribute this different choice of words or sounds to history.

This blog is a linguistic record of my world, the sounds I hear and the letters I read, from all the languages I come across.

PS: I am a high school student, and not a linguist, so take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Indian English, What is Different and Why?

Hello Everyone,

In today's Yash's-Lame-Excuses-For-Not-Publishing, we have:
1. School Work
2. School Exams
3. College Applications
And therefore, we must forgive Yash for not publishing for more than a month. Also, it's his birthday today, so we could probably cut him some slack.

So today's post is going to be about the way Indian English pronunciation differs from most of the other accents of English. What I have put here is just two of these differences and the reason I have chosen these two differences is because I have some theories to explain why Indian English is different in these places. Some of these theories make sense, some of them are not quite scientific, but just products of my imagination. Have a look and let me know what you think. 

*I have decided to include a pronunciation guide for this post because I am not using the standardized IPA to describe sounds since most laymen would not be familiar with it. I have tried to use an intuitive system for transcribing the sounds, with most English letters representing the sounds they usually stand for. For vowels, I have used ":" following the vowel to indicate that the vowel is long. "kh", "ph" and "th" - when used to describe pronunciations- are "k", "p" and "t" pronounced with a puff of air. 

To aspire or not to aspire: Let me tell you a thing about aspirated consonants. They are the ones you pronounce with a puff of air.  Speakers of Indian languages may be familiar with these sounds as the ones in 'phal', 'khaanaa' and 'thaa'. Non-Indian English Speakers may know these sounds which occur when 'p', 't' and 'k' begin a word. For example, in most accents of English other than Indian English, 'pig' is pronounced 'phig' ('ph' does NOT sound like 'f'), 'cat' sounds like 'khat' and 'tea' sounds like 'thee' ('th' does NOT sound like the 'th' in 'thin' or 'this'). And that is where Indian English differs from other Englishes. In most accents of English, voiceless stops (p, t, k) at the start of the word are aspirated. But in Indian English, it's not. And now, for the more interesting part: why?
I think this happens because Indian languages make a distinction between the unaspirated and aspirated ('k' and 'kh' for example) whereas in English, these are considered allophones. This means that these can be considered variations of the same sound, which occur in different places in a word. Thus, I like to imagine that one needs to point out to us Indians where to pronounce the consonant with aspiration and where not and since English fails to do that, we pronounce all of them without aspiration. ('th' in thin, thing etc. is not an aspirated stop in non-Indian accents of English, for those wondering; I will do a post on ‘th’ after some time maybe)

One vowel or two: Most of English long vowels are actually not long vowels but what is called diphthongs i.e. two vowels combined together. So for example, long 'i' is roughly pronounced 'a:i' as it 'bite', 'I' and 'mine'. These vowels used to be genuine, long, monophthongs (one vowel) very long back, but they have evolved into diphthongs in Modern English. Except, all of these except long 'i' and 'u' are realized as monophthongs in Indian English. For example, long 'a' in 'gate' is realized as roughly 'ei' ('geit') in most varieties of English, but we Indians go with a long 'e:' (ge:t). Similarly, long 'o' is 'au' or 'ou' (I have generally seen British people go with 'au' and Americans go with 'ou' but since Britain and America have such a huge diversity of accents within them as well, I don't want to generalize) usually, but for us, it is 'o:'. But why does this happen?
I have a theory for this. It is not an actual proved theory, but something I like to believe in. I think Indians love to monophthong-ize i.e. every time there's a diphthong, we find a way to make it a monophthong. That is what we have done with a lot of our own languages. For example, the most ancient form of Sanskrit had four diphthongs: 'ai', 'a:i', 'au' and 'a:u'. After some time, 'ai' and 'au' came to be pronounced as 'e:' and 'o:', whereas 'a:i' and 'a:u' remained diphthongs but downgraded to 'ai' and 'au'. Thus, from four, we came down to two diphthongs. Later, when Sanskrit evolved into various Prakrits, these two remaining diphthongs also became 'e' and 'o'.
And in some modern Indian languages, such as Hindi, a lot of younger people, in a lot of places pronounce the remaining 'ai' and 'au' are pronounced as 'a' in 'bat' and 'o' in 'cot' respectively. And therefore, my conjecture: Indians monophthong-ize. And which is why we monophthong-ize English diphthongs.

I know this is not a very long post but the reason for that is because this is all I have to write about this topic, and since I am really fascinated by this topic, I could not fail to write a post about it. Hope you liked it. 


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Myth-Busting: "Sanskrit is (NOT!) the mother of all languages"

Hello Everyone,
Today’s post is a myth-busting post. And the myth we’ll be busting today is that Sanskrit is the mother of all languages in the world. Let me summarize what I’ll be writing below in a few words: It’s not.  It’s the mother of a small percentage of the world’s language, but even that depends on what kind of Sanskrit you are talking about.  Let’s see what the truth is.
One often hears in India that Sanskrit is the mother of all languages, that it is the oldest language in the world.  It is probably a statement which stems from Hindu nationalism. However, this statement is not exactly true.
The truth is something like this. There are thousands of languages spoken in the world. Many of these languages can be grouped into languages families such as the Dravidian language family, the Indo-European language family, the Tibeto-Burman language family, the Uralic language family etc. Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-European language family, which as I might have previously mentioned includes English, French, Latin, Romanian, Russian, Persian (but not Arabic), Urdu, Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, just to name a few. In fact, the Indo-European language family has the most number of speakers in the world. Now, other than some common words due to borrowing from one language to another, Sanskrit shares absolutely no relation with non-Indo-European languages; therefore, there is no scope of these languages having originated from Sanskrit.
Now, let’s come to the Indo-European language family itself.  The Indo-European languages come from a common source called the Proto-Indo-European (once again, previously mentioned). We don’t have any written records of this language, but it can be reconstructed on the basis of similarities found in its daughter languages. From Proto-Indo-European descend many other languages which include (but are not limited to) Proto-Germanic (the mother of languages such as German, English), Proto-Italic-which later developed into Latin, which is the mother of French, Italian, Spanish and the likes- and Proto-Indo-Iranian ,which split into Proto-Iranian (the ancestor of Iranian languages, of which Persian is the most known and Proto-Indic. This Proto-Indic also goes by the name of Vedic Sanskrit, the Sanskrit in which the Rig Veda, the oldest piece of Hindu and Indian literature, is written.
Hence, we see that Vedic Sanskrit is not the mother of languages such as English or Spanish, but rather their aunt. Vedic Sanskrit’s mother- Proto-Indo-European had quite a few other daughters, and from these daughters, we get the non-Indian Indo-European languages.
Now you might be wondering how we can be sure that this so-called ‘Proto-Indo-European’ was not Vedic Sanskrit to begin with, and all other branches of the Indo-European family diverged from it by evolving. Well, there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary, and I’ll list only one of them.  Firstly, Proto-Indo-European had three basic vowels (a, e and o) and their long versions (à, è and ò).  Vedic Sanskrit merged these into two: a and à. ‘A’ and ‘e’ became ‘a’, and  ‘à’, ‘è’ and ‘ò’ became ‘à’. ‘O’ became either ‘a’ or ‘à’ based on a law called Bruggman’s Law.
(Those familiar with Sanskrit will point out that Sanskrit does have an ‘e’ and an ‘o’, but in Vedic Sanskrit these were actually diphthongs. e was pronounced a+ i (ai) and o was pronounced a+u (au). Moreover, the current Sanskrit diphthongs ‘ai’ and ‘au’ originate from à+i (ài) and à+u(àu).)
We don’t need the technicalities of the change but what I’m pointing out is Vedic Sanskrit lost some information that the older language (Proto-Indo-European) had. And we know that this older language had an ‘a’/’e’/’o’ distinction because the other daughter languages such as Latin, Greek etc. maintain this distinction. Thus, Vedic Sanskrit could not have been the real deal because it simply doesn’t have those features, which the other languages possessed.
There are various other features which Vedic Sanskrit has lost, which the older language must have possessed to clearly establish that Proto-Indo-European is not the same as Vedic Sanskrit, and therefore Vedic Sanskrit could not even have been the mother of all Indo-European languages.
Also, you might have noticed that all this time I was talking about Vedic Sanskrit, not simply Sanskrit. When someone says Sanskrit, most people understand it to mean Classical Sanskrit. Classical Sanskrit or Paninian Sanskrit is the Sanskrit used long after it had ceased be a spoken language. Classical Sanskrit is a codified language which was based on Vedic Sanskrit, but was standardized by certain rules by Panini. These rules can be found in Panini’s work called Ashtadhyayi. At the time of Panini, people did not speak Vedic Sanskrit but various languages which had descended from Vedic Sanskrit (called Prakrits). Panini’s Sanskrit, was in fact a language which was never spoken and therefore, it could not have been the mother of any language.
Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi- all of these languages come from the Prakrits, which had come from Vedic Sanskrit. Classical Sanskrit- the Sanskrit that is taught in schools- doesn’t even come anywhere in this tree.
Additionally, the reason that Classical Sanskrit is so ‘scientific’ is because it was an artificially created language. One more point worth noting is that the greatest works of Sanskrit (such as Abhijnanashakuntalam) are in Classical Sanskrit, much like the greatest Latin works are in Classical Latin (and not the original Latin of Rome, from which modern Romance languages come). Ironically, these works were composed at the time when the natural Sanskrit and the natural Latin had ceased to be spoken.
Thus, in conclusion, Sanskrit is not the mother of all languages in the world. It is not even the mother of all Indo-European languages, though it’s related to them. It is only the mother of North Indian languages (also called Indo-Aryan languages), and that is only when you use Sanskrit to mean Vedic Sanskrit and not Classical Sanskrit.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

What's in a name?

After a gap of almost 2 months, I am back. My reasons for absence remain same as ever: school work, a little bit of extracurricular activities and other such things. But that’s all irrelevant now that I am back.
Today, I am going to talk about names- more specifically Hindu names. The reason that I am going to limit this post to Hindu names is because Hindu names derive either from Sanskrit, or one of Sanskrit-derived languages (called Indo-Aryan languages), and I am most familiar with these languages.
Let me tell you about a few incidents related to my name.  When I tried speaking one of my first Sanskrit sentences- ‘My name is Yash’- I was told that my name is not Yash, but Yashah. When asked the reason this ‘ah’ was added, I was not given a very satisfactory answer.  That was that.  Next, when I moved to Kolkata (in West Bengal), I found out that my name in Bengali would be Josh.  I had learnt that proper nouns remained the same across languages. For example, when I am speaking English, I do not introduce myself as Fame (which is what Yash means).
So let me first examine the reason for these changes in Bengali and Sanskrit. In Bengali, my name becomes Josh, because Bengali lacks the vowel a, and the consonant y cannot occur here . But why does it convert ‘a’ to ‘o’ and ‘y’ to ‘j’? Why doesn’t ‘a’ become ‘aa’ (which Bengali has)? The reason gets me to Sanskrit. The original Sanskrit word was ‘Yashah’. The ‘ah’ was actually added to a lot of masculine nouns. All of Sanskrit daughter languages either lost this ‘ah’ or converted it to something else. After this, several sound changes occurred. Bengali was one language which underwent great amounts of sound changes. Among them was a-->o, and y-->j. Therefore the Sanskrit-derived word in Bengali is Josh. So the reason that my name changes in these languages is because the original parent word for my name (Yashah) has many children, and all of these children are perfectly acceptable substitutes. Simple enough?
Not really. There are two problems with this theory. The first problem is that ‘Yash’ is not really a Hindi word. By normal development of sounds, Sanskrit ‘Yash-ah’ would become Hindi ‘Jas’ (which is incidentally what my grandfather calls me). However, Hindi has undergone a huge number of Sanskritization attempts, and the bastard child of Sanskrit ‘Yashah’ and Hindi ‘Jas’ is what I am stuck with: Yash. So what language does the name Yash even come from?
Secondly, a lot of Sanskrit names have cognates (words which derive from the same source) as Latin, French, Italian, German, Irish, Russian, English to name a few languages. For examples consider the Hindi name ‘Suraj’ which derives from Sanskrit ‘Suryah’. ‘Suryah’ derives from a word in an old language (called Proto-Indo-European), from which derive Latin ‘Sol’ , Greek ‘Helios’ and English ‘Sun’. So if ‘Josh’ an acceptable substitute for ‘Yash’, shouldn’t ‘Sun’ be an acceptable substitute for ‘Suraj’? Doesn’t usually happen, does it?
So why this disparity? I think the reason is two-fold. Firstly, since Bengali, Hindi and other Indian languages have over centuries remained in contact with each other, memory of their common origins haven’t been lost and correspondences between them can be easily established. On the other hand, very few people are aware of the connection between Latin/Greek and Sanskrit for example, and even I they are, no one except linguistics can derive the sound correspondences between them.
Secondly, Bengali, Hindi and other languages are written with scripts derived from the same parent script (Brahmi). Most often, it’s not spellings of words which have changes but the way the letters are pronounced has. So the Bengali equivalent of the Hindi letter ‘ya’ is pronounced ‘ja’. So to make a Hindi name Bengali, all that needs to be done is to replace each Hindi letter with its Bengali equivalent and then ask a Bengali native to read it out for you.
Like my post about dialects and languages, I don’t arrive at a conclusive answer here. Instead, I have just presented some strange and/or interesting phenomena relating to names across languages and given plausible explanations for them. I admit I have highlighted more problems than I have offered solutions.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Is Devanagari really all that scientific?

Forewarning: This is going to be a slightly complicated post, dealing with specific phenomena, and not generalizations, so don't read it when you're tired.

I have finally just accepted that my blog doesn't have any international audience, and therefore I am just going to assume that all my speakers are Indians and talk about a language, which quite a few Indians know: Hindi. So I am guessing that if you have every studied Hindi in school or even just heard anyone talk about it, you would've come across the idea that Devanagari, the script in which Hindi is written is a perfectly 'scientific' script. Very often, this idea will be juxtaposed with the idea that English has a completely 'unscientific' script. Today, I am going to look at how much truth these sentences have and examine related phenomena which occur in Hindi.

So by 'scientific', what these people mean is phonemic script i.e. a script in which every sound is represented by a single letter and a single letter represents only one sound. Now, we know that is definitely not English. So yes, English is written with, what is called an 'unscientific' script. But what about Hindi? 

While Hindi is more of less phonetic, it is not completely so. For example, we know that any consonant with no vowel marks is pronounced with an 'a' sound.This 'a sound' is represented by a character called the schwa (ə). I have used 'a' to represent this character in this post. Now, we know that क is pronounced 'ka' and म is pronounced 'ma'. So is कम pronounced 'ka-ma'? No, it isn't. At least not in Hindi. It's 'kam'. The schwa after m disappears. You'd think that this only happens at the end of words. But it isn't so either. Consider दशरथ. It isn't pronounced as da-sha-ra-tha. It isn't even 'da-sha-rath'. It's 'dash-rath'. And it isn't that the schwa disappears everywhere. It remains between d and sh, it remains between r and th.  This disappearance of the schwa is called schwa syncope and is one of the very few irregularities of the Devanagari script. Interestingly, even the word Devanagari (देवनागरी) which is pronounced 'dev-naagri' shows this phenomena. 

Now the question which arises is where does the schwa disappear and where not? According to a few Internet sources, there isn't any rule which completely describes this process. There are 2 rules which describe the process partially. Now, I feel that by just adding one more rule, all instances of schwa deletion will be explained. I have presented all the 3 rules below. I haven't been able to find any exceptions to these rules. If you do let me know:

1. Schwa is deleted at the end of words unless the word is made up of only one letter, eg . न 'no'  ( This is obviously because it's not possible to pronounce the consonant without the vowel, which is schwa in this case)

2. Schwa is deleted between two consonants if both the consonants have vowels to their sides: i.e. the structure should be  VC(schwa)CV, where C=consonant, V=vowel. This rule is processed from left to right and it applies after the first rule has been applied. Let us see what this means:
  - Take दशरथ again. By applying the first rule, we get the pronunciation dasharath. The 'a' at the end is eliminated because the first rule has to be applied first. Now let's see the first instance of schwa from the left as this rule applies from left to right. It is denoted in red: dasharath. Does the red 'a' occur in this format VC(a)CV. It is surrounded by two consonants ('d' and 'sh'), the 'sh' is even followed by a vowel, but 'd' is not preceded by a vowel. Thus the structure is C(a)CV, not VC(a)CV. But the next 'a' does follow this rule. It is preceded by 'sh' (C) and then 'a' (V) and it is followed by 'r' (C) and then 'a'(V). Thus, this schwa is removed. So now, the word is pronounced 'dashrath' The next 'a' will not satisfy this rule: it is preceded by two consonats ('sh' and 'r') because we deleted the 'a' in between them. Moreover, it is only followed by a single consonant 'th' and no vowel follows 'th', since we deleted that in the very beginning by applying the first rule. Hence the pronunciation of the word is 'dashrath'
- Similarly, take सूरत- 'surata'. First step, cut out the last 'a': surat. The only other schwa does not fit the format VC(a)CV, and therefore it cannot be deleted. So the word is pronounced 'surat'.

I hope I've been able to explain this complicated rule to you. This was the hardest part of understand the process. The rule number 3 is:

3. When suffixes are added to a word- for the purpose of schwa deletion, they are considered separate words. Let me explain. Take the word कर(kar) for example, which means 'do'. And then take the suffix ता (taa) which denoted regular action- something like the English simple present tense. So करता (है) means (he/she/it) does. Now if the schwa deletion rules are applied to कर  and ता, they will be considered separate words. Let us understand the implications of this rule.

-Take the word सरक which means shift or slip. By applying the above two rules, the pronunciation of this word is 'sarak'. Now, suppose we add a suffix to it and make it सरकता. If we consider सरकता as one single word, then by the schwa rules, we will have to delete the schwa between 'r' and 'k', and retain every other schwa. So the pronunciation of the world would be 'sarkataa'. This is obviously not the case. The word is pronounced as 'saraktaa'. If we consider सरक and ता to be different units however, and the rules apply separately to both the units, we get sarak+taa=saraktaa, which is the correct pronunciation.

Thus, the one irregularity of the Devanagari script can be explained by a series of rules. I have not verified if these rules will actually hold true for all cases, so don't just go by my word on it. There are a few other irregularities in writing Hindi in Devanagari, but I believe this is the most important and prevalent one. Hopefully, this post wasn't too tedious. Next time, I will chose a topic which doesn't require so much of technical explanation.


Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Love Story of Languages and Scripts

Hello Everyone,
Let me tell you about a little advice I was given about Mathematics when I was preparing for my ICSE Boards. I was told that practice makes perfect and the more I practise, the better I’ll get at Maths. I was told that there was nothing wrong with my concepts, and if I rehearsed the sums enough, I would be able to get a perfect score. To me however, this was like rehearsing every kind of sum over and over again until you reach a state where you see a sum and simply reapply all the steps you’ve learnt. So where exactly does the whole aspect of using your own brains to solve a sum come?
Whether I was correct or not is another topic of discussion because what I want to talk about is how this phenomenon applies to languages. Today, I am going to talk about languages, their scripts and their little love stories.
Before I begin, I want to clarify to my readers what a language is and what a script is. Language is our medium of communication, written, oral or signed. As such, English, Hindi, Romanian, Telugu, Japanese and the American Sign Languages are all languages. Script is the system of characters which is used to represent sounds in a language, and hence is the medium through which language is expressed in the written form.
Now, consider the Roman script, which a lot of you might erroneously call the ‘English’ script. This same script is used to write French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Swedish, Konkani (in some cases) and many other languages besides English. Similarly, what is quite often called the ‘Hindi’ script, and whose actual name is Devanagari (or Nagari) script is used to write Hindi, Marathi, Konkani (in some cases) and a few other languages. Therefore, I want to impress upon you that a language is not the same thing as a script, and a script can be used to write multiple languages, and in a few cases, a single language (such as Konkani) can be written with multiple scripts.
Okay. So with that clear, let us get to the main focus of this post: the love story of languages and scripts. With a few exceptions such as Konkani, it seems that every language has one script used to write it. They have a very special bond because from the day that Mr. ABC decided that the sounds of Language X will be represented by Script Y, readers of X, on seeing a word written using Y script do not think of the individual letters of the script but the meaning the entire shape of the word conveys.
Let me make this a little clear. Take the word ‘fiordiara’ and ‘elephant’. How much time did the words take to register in your mind? Whatever the answer to that is, I think you can agree that ‘elephant’ registered quicker than ‘fiordiara’. Why? Because the word ‘elephant’ is something you have come across a multiple times and now you don’t have to analyse individual letters of the word to know its pronunciation. Therefore there are only two steps associated in understanding this word: looking at the word and associating it with the large, grey creature with a tusk.
On the other hand, ‘fiordiara’ is not a real English word. To know how it is pronounced, you need to look at the individual letters because you’ve never come across this combination of letters before. Had 'fiordiara' been a real word with a meaning, and you knew the meaning, but had never seen how the word was written, you would follow these steps in understanding the word: looking at the word, figuring out its pronunciation and associating the pronunciation with the meaning of the word.
Let’s see how this relates to our example of Mathematics. It seems that we have practised words to such an extent, that an overwhelming majority of the words we come across in our life have their written form already stored in our brains. Therefore, like we only need our memory to relate a sum to its solution, we only need memory to relate a written word with its meaning.
You might think that is the case only with languages such as English whose scripts are not phonemic. But that is not true. To dispel your doubts, let us take a language such as Hindi which is written with Devanagari. Every Devanagari letter represents a single sound of Hindi, and every sound of Hindi is represented by a single letter of Devanagari with only two exceptions that we can easily ignore.
Now take a fluent (native, if possible) Hindi speaker who does not usually read Devanagari (but he/she should be able to read Devanagari), write a word whose meaning he/she knows, but is unlikely to have come across in writing and ask him/her to tell you the meaning of that word. If he/she voices his/her thoughts out, you are likely to hear something like ‘a’, ‘ka’, ‘sa’, ‘ma’, ‘t’ before he/she tells you the meaning of the word. The same won’t happen if it’s a word he/she has already come across frequently in writing.
Thus, when people learn a written language, they simply do not learn the individual characters of its alphabet, but also unconsciously begin remembering what each word looks like in the written form, so that when they come across that word in a newspaper or a book, they don’t have to look at individual characters to find out what those letters mean.
(For languages such as Chinese which use single characters to represent whole words, this phenomenon becomes obviously prominent. However, I am not familiar with the intricacies of the scripts of these languages and therefore, I will not go in details for the fear of stating something erroneous. )
So now that we have established that languages and their scripts have a deeper relationship than visible, what if we were to break this marriage and send them off to different partners? What if I decide to use the Devanagari script to write English? What if I decide to use the Bangla script to write Gujarati? As absurd as the idea might sound (or not), we already do that. We use the Roman script to write Hindi in hoarding, in TV advertisements, on Facebook, in text messages and many other places.  
So a question arises: can the same phenomena whereby the reader understands the meaning of the word without breaking it into its letter components happen when languages and scripts are mismatched? I am working out the answer to this question right now.  Very soon, I will let you know the answer and how I arrived at the answer. But currently, I believe that it is all a question of familiarity and practise. If the reader is accustomed to seeing that word from Language N written in Script M, then whichever language and script you mix together, there would not be any problem!
For example, I would be quicker to understand that ‘barish’ (written in that exact way) means rain, than say, my grandfather would, simply because a lot of my Facebook statuses have used that word written in Roman script. On the other hand, my grandfather would probably be coming across that word written that way for maybe the tenth time in his life, which is not quite a lot. Similarly, I would be quicker to read ‘phool’ (meaning: flower) than I would read ‘ फ्लावर‘(flower) because I have come across the Hindi word ‘फूल’ (meaning: flower)  written in Roman script quite often, but not the English word ‘flower’ written in Devanagari.
On this note, I will conclude my post by saying that the love between languages and their scripts is more about familiarity that anything else. If we learn to see two people together, we accept their love, regardless of how mismatched this couple looks. Similarly, if we get familiar with Hindi in Roman, or Japanese in Perso-Arabic, then their love prospers. It’s all a matter of practise it seems. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

My Experiences at the Panini Linguistics Olympiad Camp

Hi Everyone,

So I am finally back home after having attended the Panini Linguistics Olympiad Camp and I have had so much fun there. In this post, instead of talking about any linguistical phenomena, I want to share my experiences with you.

So firstly, the Camp itself. For 6 days, we had a packed schedule from 9:30 AM to 6 PM which included lessons on various aspects of Linguistics, tests to decide who will be selected to represent India at the International Olympiad, and problem solving practise sessions. I don't think you want to know excruciating details of what we did in each of these sessions but the important point is, not at one instance was I bored. Because at every point of time, there was so much of information to soak up. For example, there was one time where we were trying to use the rules we learnt from Linguistics to construct missing words in the song: 'Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa laga' from the movie 1942: A Love Story. Then, at another point we were trying to discover how African and Native American languages frame their sentences. Discussing every thing I learnt would need much more than a single blog post, so I am afraid you will have to make do with just this.

But there was something I enjoyed even more than I enjoyed the Camp: the people. Never have I met such an interesting, and such a fun group of people in one single place. There were people with such a wide variety of interests and all of us shared a little bit of everything we knew: there were discussions of Maths, Physics and Chemistry, there were discussions on History and Languages (where I offered my two cents worth of knowledge), there were discussions on Zombies and Harry Potter, on movies, on every possible thing I could imagine. We played cards and we sang songs (albeit shyly). The thing is, with the Linguistics Olympiad, not requiring a theoretical background in Linguistics, attracts a variety of students, all of whom, while determined and eager to learn, are also looking forward to a fun time.

Because of the kind of people I met there, the most fun aspect of the Camp was the Team Problem Solving Session. Each day, we were grouped in teams of 3 or 4 and were expected to solve problems on Vietnamese, Mongolian, Bulgarian and Hawaiian. And all we were given was a bunch of text in these languages, and we had to figure out everything ourselves. Whether it be recipes for cakes written in Bulgarian, or the word for Calcium in Mongolian. Sometimes, we were able to find correct answers, sometimes we were far from it. For example, one time, we ended up with Mr. Vietnam instead of a Vietnamese-English dictionary. Don't laugh at us! It's not as stupid an assumption as it sounds.

Anyway, I am concluding this post. I apologize if it wasn't up to your expectations but I really wanted to share my experiences and this was the only place where I had a medium to. Also, if I might add, I got selected to represent India at the International Linguistics Olympiad in Manchester in July, where I hope to have an equally amazing time with three other students I met in Mumbai, and with the participants from various nations across the world.

For anyone interested in participating in the Olympiad next year, or finding out more about it, have a look here: http://www.facebook.com/PaniniLinguisticsOlympiad


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Another little note and a little bit of an apology

Hi Everyone,
Firstly, I want to apologize for not giving you that 'lots and lots' of posts that I promised. It turns out that the camp is a lot more hectic (and fun) that I thought. I am having a really good time here though, having met a lot of interesting people and having had really interesting training sessions.
Anyway, I have decided that instead of just posting about daily events, I've decided to enjoy the full experience as it is and put it to pen (or in this case, keyboard? screen?) after the entire camp. So, once again, sorry for going back on my words but I think I'll do the post more justice once I return home- which will be on the 9th of this month.
A Really Sorry Yash