Saving Phrases

16 Mar

Saving Pictures

Years ago when I was living in Great Barrington, MA, I went to the library and borrowed 2 books.  One was about 800 pages on the history of the Ottoman Empire.  The Empire lasted over 6 centuries and was the most culturally, religiously and geographically diverse in world history.  It was a very interesting read and went a long way to explaining the present day instability of the Balkans and Middle Eastern nations.
The other book was about Linguistics.  As a kid we used to have spelling as well as vocabulary tests in school.  I devoured the study guides for vocabulary.  I just love knowing where words originate from.
And it was dangerous for me to look anything up in dictionaries or encyclopedias.  I was a goner… lost for hours as one word led to another again and again.  It’s like that for me even today on the computer as one link leads to another.  I re-read that linguistics book twice.
The National Geographic magazine has done several articles on the disappearance of certain languages as the native speakers age and die out.  It makes me sad to think about it… just as the extinction of some of the fauna and flora around the world does in our mad rush to be “modern.”  I’m absolutely fascinated by languages.

Finland has a non-Indo-European language.

As a musician, when I hear other languages, I hear music.  Most have a different rhythm and sound, just as different styles of music do.  Take some of the languages of Southern Africa for instance.  They have clicks and sounds that don’t appear in any other language group.  How did that happen?
One of my favorite audio books to re-listen to is “The Adventure of English” by Melvyn Bragg.  It follows English from an obscure dialect imported from the northwestern corner of Europe to become the global language it is today.  I’d recommend it be listened to rather than read since English has evolved in sound and pronunciation greatly over the centuries.  English has also picked up multiple loan words along the way from just about every country and culture it’s come across.

Montreal, Canada. Still a mostly French speaking city.

Over the past the past 2 years I’ve traveled to 3 different countries with 3 different languages, one of them a non-Indo-European language: Finland; Montreal, Canada; and Honduras. I kept a journal, saving words and phrases in each place.  Partly because I wanted to at least attempt to speak the native language and partly so as not to be perceived as an arrogant American.  I’ve been told I have a good ear for other languages.  I think that’s probably because I spent my first year or so in Italy and was beginning to speak before I came to America.

Trying to communicate beyond language in Guaimaca, Honduras. Guitar and music were the answer.

Keeping track of words and phrases has been a lifelong affair.  Not just something I started to do when I began traveling to other countries.  It used to be scraps of paper and then notebooks.  Now it’s files on the computer… Saving Phrases.  When I read, hear or think of an interesting word or phrase that’s where it gets recorded.  Eventually they become part of a poem or song.  So the poem below is part of that file.  Some of it written down while driving… not easy or probably safe but doable.

Just another dawn morning.

Driving Towards Dawn   Weez March 2012

dawn comes on quick feet
with great shouts of color
while the mist ahead
kisses blue on blue
of water and sky
announcing the lake
at daybreak
jet trails blaze orange arrows
across white clouds
to spark a rainbow
of possibilities along
with the new day
and out on the western sky path
a storm approaches
and in the marriage of sky and earth
the sky is the dark of a groom’s tux against
the bride white snow of the mountain

Westward Glances


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