Lotsa miscellaneous language/linguistic stuff

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/07/10 21:30 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/07/10/437330.aspx


The speaker dinner was on Friday night and it was very cool. We went to see the Heineken Experience which was on the con side not as accessible as it could have been but on the pro side looked a lot like the factory scenes from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And also on the pro side, the fact that I had to keep skipping ahead of people let me get to the food and drink first. :-)

Lets see what happened -- I was invited to sit down by a charming lady at one of the tables. Her husband works for Intel and they have both been living in Germany for 15 years (originally from the US). The three of us had the most completely fascinating conversation about all sorts of language issues, from the differences between flavors of German in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, how the attitudes of people in the three countries seems to have shaped many of those differences (we considered and rejected the converse theory), another examples of history and politics affecting language. Very little about computers, but a lot about language. A smashingly fun conversation, in fact the sort that I used to assume adults had all the time at parties when I was younger. They probably do and I just never get invited to those kinds of parties, but anyway....

For me it was a brief education in many factors related to culture and language, and not just German culture and language! I will post about some of the conversation another time, I think folks here may enjoy it.

Later in the evening, I did manage to embarrass myself doing some karaoke, but luckily most people who I'd most hate to be embarrassed in front of had already left. Not that I have any dignity left or anything, but it is one less thng to turn red about. I was not drunk, just a little foolish. But at least I know what song I should have picked for the next time I asm in the sitution.

Sorry to have been offline all day (especially to those waiting  for anonymous approvals!), I was doing touristy thing like looking at The Book of Kells at Trinity College. Definitely worth a trip, though it might be more fun to be a linguist studying there and be able to look at the whole book rather than just the page they have turned to on that day....

I also got a cheapo mobile phone and a SIM card so I can finally not be so isolated on these occasional visits to different parts of Europe. The key is to not lose the phone before the next trip, probably. :-)

Anyway, Chris Kiernan has asked me to talk about various aspects of stuff that we and I do in GIFT in Redmond (to the folks in GIFT in Ireland). When I asked for what topics inspired interest he gave me easily a month's work of talks. Which he will have to whittle down obviously, I'll go and check my Inbox to see if he managed to do that. Though we also went to dinner last night with his friend Elaine who would love for me to talk about VB International stuff to her company (sorry, no time this trip!). But I'll send her a copy of the VB book, and Chris one too (I owed him one from when he was in Redmond last year). Running out of copies, but I admit that I am much easier to snow when being told that someone is a fan. :-)

Riddle me this -- when I hear an Irish accent in movies or on TV, it annoys the hell out of me. Yet in person it either does not bother me at all, or it completely delights me (the latter is usually based on word choices -- the vocabulary of many of the Irish people I have met is awesome). So why would the two inspire such completely differednt reactions, when on the surface they are indeed the same accent? What hidden cues do the non-Irish accents give me that make me hate what I hear so much of the time? We talked about this at dinner but none of us seemed to come up with any conclusions. I'll see if I can study this a bit, it is yet another fascinating aspect of language that when I am exposed to you can almost here me purr, it is so cool....

Ok, enough for now, but I will be talking about a lot of this stuff on other days....


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2005/11/16 Heading to Ireland

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