Thursday, January 29, 2004

From New Scientist, an interview with Alexandra Aikhenvald, who records dying languages:

In some languages, including Tariana, you always have to put a little suffix onto your verb saying how you know something - we call it "evidentiality". I would have to say: "I talked to Adrian, non-visual," if we had talked on the phone. And if my son told someone else, he would say: "She talked to Adrian, visual, reported." In that language, if you don't say how you know things, they think you are a liar.

This is a very nice and useful tool. Imagine if, in the argument about weapons of mass destruction, people had had to say how they knew about whatever they said. That would have saved us quite a lot of breath.

Check out the whole interview, she’s wonderful.

Finally got to see ‘Lost in Translation’ last night, braving a blizzard to get to Shaftsbury Avenue. Normally the walk from work would take me 50 minutes, last night it took an hour and 20 minutes – I was bloody cold by the time I got there and looked like a yeti. Film was good, if not quite capable of living up to the hype. Scarlett Johansson looked creamy, ripe and lush throughout; Bill Murray was excellent. We went with our housemate C, a Canadian-American who spent two years living in Japan. As we were walking home he said: ‘That film tells you everything you need to know about Japan.’ A ringing endorsement!

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