April 24th 2:21 am
“ Languages animate objects by giving them names, making them noticeable when we might not otherwise be aware of them. Tuvan has a word iy
(pronounced like the letter e
), which indicates the short side of a hill. I had never noticed that hills had a short side. But once I learned the word, I began to study the contours of hills, trying to identify the iy
. It turns out that hills are asymmetrical, never perfectly conical, and indeed one of their sides tends to be steeper and shorter than the others. If you are riding a horse, carrying firewood, or herding goats on foot, this is a highly salient concept. You never want to mount a hill from the iy
side, as it takes more energy to ascend, and an iy
descent is more treacherous as well. Once you know about the iy
, you see it in every hill and identify it automatically, directing your horse, sheep, or footsteps accordingly. This is a perfect example of how language adapts to local environment, by packaging knowledge into ecologically relevant bits. Once you know that there is an iy
, you don’t really have to be told to notice it or avoid it. You just do. The language has taught you useful information in a covert fashion, without explicit instruction. ”
— K. David Harrison, from "The Last Speakers: The Quest to Save the World’s Most Endangered Languages"
(Source: perugu---annam, via weissewiese)
April 24th 1:59 am
“ For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse.
This is not your destruction.
This is your birth. ”
March 16th 12:38 pm
“ With what stillness at last
you appear in the valley
your first sunlight reaching down
to touch the tips of a few
high leaves that do not stir
as though they had not noticed
and did not know you at all
then the voice of a dove calls
from far away in itself
to the hush of the morning
so this is the sound of you
here and now whether or not
anyone hears it this is
where we have come with our age
our knowledge such as it is
and our hopes such as they are
invisible before us
untouched and still possible ”
— To the New Year by W. S. Merwin (via growing-orbits)
(Source: poetryfoundation.org, via growing-orbits)
March 2nd 8:09 am
“ The Lord gives everything and charges
by taking it back. What a bargain.
Like being young for a while. We are
allowed to visit hearts of women,
to go into their bodies so we feel
no longer alone. We are permitted
romantic love with it’s bounty and half-life
of two years. It is right to mourn
for the small hotels of Paris that used to be
when we used to be. My mansard looking
down on Notre Dame every morning is gone,
and me listening to the bell at night.
Venice is no more. The best Greek Islands
have drowned in acceleration. But it’s the having
not the keeping that is the treasure.
Ginsberg came to my house one afternoon
and said he was giving up poetry
because it told lies, that language distorts.
I agreed, but asked what we have
that gets it right even that much.
We look up at the stars and they are
not there. We see the memory
of when they were, once upon a time.
And that too is more than enough. ”
— "The Lost Hotels of Paris," Jack Gilbert (via honeychurch)