Question of the day.

What’s one thing you absolutely want to do, given the chance, before you die?

My answer:

It’s nothing unpredictable for people who already know me. The thing I particularly want to do out of the things I want to do before I die category, is to, hopefully, learn all “my” languages to such a level that I can understand them without too much difficulty. I don’t know how realistic it’ll be, given that some of my languages are extincting, or already extincted and revived, and thus the amount of resources available to learn them is limited in comparison to, say, English, or even Swedish, and also I don’t like the idea of having a very long life. Plus there are other problems, including, but probably not limited to: because I am blind, the amount of resources shrinks even more; I live outside of the territories where these languages are spoken and with small languages like that it is a big deal, it may be difficult to find native speakers online, for example I still don’t know any Scottish Gaelic native, or a Sami one; some of them don’t have their own Braille alphabet and I do find it a lot easier when I can read and write in a language and not only listen, some don’t have good speech synths or none at all, for example there’s no Cornish speech synthesiser ’cause it doesn’t pay off for sure to make a synthesiser speaking a language that was once dead and then resurrected but still has like 500 speakers, and there are probably more things that can get in the way that I can’t think of right now. So while I don’t really know how well that will go in practice and how much of it is actually achievable and how much is just Bibiel’s lovely little dream like a lot of things have turned out to be, I’m going to do what I can do to make it work and to learn as many of them as possible. I’m doing quite well with Welsh, which is an endangered language, even though the beginnings were quite hopeless and infuriatingly frustrating, but that has been the case with every single language I was beginning to learn, so I’m taking the risk by being carefully optimistic about the rest that things will go well after some initial significant upheavals. We shouldn’t forget that technology also keeps developing so who knows, maybe those resources which aren’t accessible for me now will become later on.

You? 🙂

Song of the day (29th September) – Mari Boine – “Alla Hearrá guhkkin Osllos” (Hey, Mr. Almighty Down There In Oslo).

Here’s another Mari Boine’s song. I originally wanted to share it with you on one of the future Sami National Days (February 6), but I might as well do it now ’cause why not. This is a very interesting song for someone like me who is passionate about endangered languages and rights of the speakers of such languages, media in endangered languages and all that. I have no English translation for you, and I can only clearly understand one word in the Sami lyrics – “giella” which means language. – But, hey, not all is lost! There is a part in Norwegian in the lyrics, and actually, that Norwegian bits and pieces are of very deep historical and personal value for me, because that was the very first thing I was able to understand in Norwegian. I don’t speak Norwegian, mind you, but of course Swedish and Norwegian are close enough to be very much mutually intelligible. I used to be frustrated because I could never understand more than a word, or a small string of words in Norwegian, and that if I was lucky, I didn’t even understand svorsk too well (svenska – Swedish – +norsk – Norwegian – =svorsk). I still often don’t understand Norwegian too well but am often able to at least figure out the context. And that Mari Boine’s song was the first ever spoken – or sung, but I don’t think that matters – word, much more than a word actually, that I understood. Not all of it but I definitely got the gist of it plus some more than a gist, I’m not sure about one line. Bibiel is so smart, yayyy for Bibiel!!! 😀 And thus, Bibiel can tell you what the song is about.

“Hey, Mr. Almighty, down there in Oslo. Do you have time to listen to us? We watch Tv evening after evening, but don’t hear anything in our own language. Hey, MR. Almighty, down there in Oslo. Do you have time to listen to us? We listen to us? We listen to the radio day efter day, but hear hardly a word in our own language. Could you give us a little bit more? Language has such a great power [or your language has such a great power, I’m not sure] (…)”. And then I only understand that they are afraid of something, I am half-guessing that that their language will disappear. If there are some Norwegian peeps out there (or even better Sami!) I’d appreciate any corrections. I’m assuming that the Sami lyrics are mostly the same.

The song was released on Mari Boine’s 1986 album, originally, and, while I don’t know what was the situations with the Sami media back then, and I have no idea if they have their own TV right now, I do know that nowadays, there is a public radiostation called NRK Samiradio in Norway. I’m not well acquainted with it and I don’t know if it is sufficient for the Norwegian Sami community’s needs, but I’d think the situation has improved since the 80’s. There is also SR Sápmi to which I listen a lot, and some Finnish Sami radiostation as well. I also have no idea who the Mr. Almighty exactly is, as I don’t have a broader background context about the song.

Oh, and I forgot to mention one more interesting thing about Mari in my previous Mari Boine post. She is a paternal relative of Kevin Boine, whose song “Komm Till Finnmark” I featured on National Sami Day this year. Apart from the joiking, and even despite Mari’s huge musical versatility, the difference between their styles is vast and almost startling hahaha!