Archive for Announcements

George Whitefield

More than a decade ago, I posted about the oratorial skills of George Whitefield: "If I could only say 'O!' like Mr. Whitefield", 5/15/2009. He was an itinerant preacher who played an indirect role in the origins of the University of Pennsylvania, whose original 1740 home was a building constructed in an unsuccessful attempt to lure Whitefield to settle in Philadelphia. What I didn't know at the time was that Whitefield later played a central role in the introduction of slavery to Georgia, where he did settle:

Slavery had been outlawed in the young Georgia colony in 1735. In 1747, Whitefield attributed the financial woes of his Bethesda Orphanage to Georgia's prohibition of slavery.He argued that "the constitution of that colony [Georgia] is very bad, and it is impossible for the inhabitants to subsist without the use of slaves.

Between 1748 and 1750, Whitefield campaigned for slavery's legalisation. He said that the colony would not be prosperous unless farmers had slave labor. Whitefield wanted slavery legalized not only for the prosperity of the colony, but also for the financial viability of the Bethesda Orphanage. "Had Negroes been allowed", he said, "I should now have had a sufficiency to support a great many orphans without expending above half the sum that has been laid out." Whitefield's push for the legalization of slavery "cannot be explained solely on the basics of economics." It was also that "the specter of massive slave revolts pursued him."

Slavery was legalized in 1751. Whitefield saw the "legalization of slavery as part personal victory and part divine will." Whitefield now argued a scriptural justification for slavery. He increased his number of slaves, using his preaching to raise money to purchase them. Whitefield became "perhaps the most energetic, and conspicuous, evangelical defender and practitioner of slavery."

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On the invention of writing in Egypt and China

The next SCRIBO guest will be John Baines (Oxford), on the invention of writing in Egypt and China, with the title:

“Pairs of Early Script Forms: Contrasting Aesthetics in Early Egypt and China”. 
 
Don’t miss it next Wednesday 8th July, *4.30pm* (Italy time) = *10:30am* (Philadelphia time).
 
The Zoom link is direct: https://tinyurl.com/y9mu7bpo
 
It will also be streamed live on the INSCRIBE ERC Project Facebook page.

Silvia Ferrara <silvia.ferrara@gmail.com>

SCRIBO Seminar (INSCRIBE ERC Project, Bologna)

[h.t. Joe Farrell]

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Abralin ao vivo

[This event has been postponed to Saturday 6/13/2020 in accordance with the call to #ShutDownSTEM]

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University of Texas Linguistics Research Center

Three decades ago, in 1990, I attended a five-week summer institute on Indo-European linguistics and archeology at the University of Texas (Austin).  The institute was organized by Edgar Polomé (1920 [b. Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels, Belgium]-2000) and Winfred Lehmann (1916 [b. Surprise, Nebraska]-2000) and was supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.  It seemed like half of the most important Indo-Europeanists of the day paraded through the Institute.

I remember Homer Thomas drawing hundreds of pots on the gigantic blackboard, stretching about 50 feet across the front of the lecture hall and 7 or 8 feet tall, and unerringly identifying their site and culture names, pointing out their relationships by shape and ornamentation.  That was really quite a breathtaking performance, one that went on a whole week for a couple of hours each day, if I remember correctly.

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Annual Reviews response to the COVID-19 pandemic

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University City train station notes

Announcements

1.

"Please be visible to the engineer OR* train will not stop."

*spoken with very heavy emphasis

Is there a choice?

2.

"Your attention please:  trains en route to destination may be late.  Passengers are advised* that times may increase or decrease** at any time."

*the preceding three words are uttered with rising crescendo, with a slight fall at the end

**strong emphasis on each of the preceding three words

This entire announcement is spoken in a seemingly snide, sneering, pompous tone.  No sympathy or apology whatsoever.  (In Japan, the railway administration is thoroughly ashamed when a train is half a minute late.  In Austria, where many of my relatives worked for the railways as much as a century or more ago, one could set your watch by the arrival and departure of the trains.)  I loathe this announcement more than any other — especially when one is made to wait for an hour or more, after which a train may simply be cancelled without explanation.

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Goropius Becanus Award nomination for 2019

It's been a while since the last Goropius Becanus Award — see "The envelope, please" and "The Language of Eve" (1/3/2007). But a worthy nominee has recently appeared, as reported by  Zin Kao, "English is actually Chinese, scholars claim", The Taiwan News 8/31/2019 ("World Civilization Research Association academics also believe all European history before 15th century is fake"):

“World Civilization Research Association” (世界文明研究促進會) scholars are claiming that Western civilization originates from China and all European languages are merely Mandarin dialects, the Liberty Times reports.

World Civilization Research Association Vice President and Secretary-General Zhai Guiyun (翟桂鋆) said during an interview with Sina Online that some English words derive from Mandarin. For example, “yellow” resembles Mandarin for “leaf falling” (葉落, yeluo) because it is the color of autumn, while “heart” resembles “core” (核的, hede).

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Oral Language Technology

From Steven Bird:

Interested in a PhD combining language, computation, and design, supporting language revitalisation? Join us in Australia's far north – beautiful country and a global hot-spot for linguistic diversity. Many projects are in partnership with language centres in remote communities. Applications due 31 October. Please contact me for details. steven.bird@cdu.edu.au.

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Blizzard Challenge: Appeal for volunteer judges

From Zhizheng Wu:

We are pleased to announce that the Blizzard Challenge 2019 listening test is now live. The paid listening tests have been running in the University of Edinburgh for two weeks and will finish by 19th July. We need your help as a listener, and to help us recruit more listeners.

Speech experts (you decide if you are one! Native speakers only please!)

http://3.16.124.227/register_expert.html

Everyone else:

http://3.16.124.227/register_volunteer.html

The test takes around 45 minutes. You can do it over several sessions,  if you prefer.

Please distribute the above URL as widely as possible, such as on your  institutional or national mailing lists, or to your students.

Update: Sorry about the lack of guidance on the fact that the synthesis is all in Chinese!  I'm traveling, with somewhat erratic internet, and took a few minutes off from packing to post the appeal without checking it out — apologies again.

 

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Whence cometh linguistic meaning?

Sino-Platonic Papers is pleased to announce the publication of its two-hundred-and-eighty-seventh issue:

“Emotion, Reason, and Language: Meanings Are Made, Not Retrieved” by J. Marshall Unger.  A free pdf of this paper is available here.

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Writing: from complex symbols to abstract squiggles

There's a new exhibition on "Writing:  Making Your Mark" at the British Library.  Judging from the homepage and all that I've heard about it, this is an exciting, informative, comprehensive display of more than a hundred objects and forty different systems pertaining to the history of writing during the past five millennia and drawn from around the world.  Since it's open until Tuesday, August 27, 2019, if you're in the vicinity it would be worth your while to stop by and take a look.

There's also an excellent article by Kristina Foster about the exhibition in Hyperallergic (6/7/19):

"A History of Writing, from Hieroglyphs to Squiggles:  An exhibition at the British Library powerfully delves into the personal and political complexities of writing, driving home that it’s not only one of humanity’s greatest inventions, but born out of the strongest human motivations."

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Is this Cantonese, Mandarin, or a combination of the two?

Sign on a municipal bus in San Francisco:


(Sponsored by truthornahsf.org)

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Reverted to the old LLOG machine

There were issues with the upgrade, so it was decided to revert to the old server at 11:00pm. The site is now running on the old server and should be used as normal. We will make another attempt when we believe we have the issue resolved.

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