The big issues in the news in the US at the moment:
- The shame of the Trump administration’s treatment of migrant children from Central America
- Why reporters don’t use the word “lie” to describe the things that come frequently out of the mouth of the current president of our country
Depressing. So depressing that the New York Times, the best-known newspaper in the United States and one of the most well-known newspapers in the world, has taken to publishing (to take to +present participle explained in the English notes below) a page of good news on Sundays.
I took a look at said good news this morning, and was underwhelmed–there’s just nothing there to remotely match the tragedy that I see unfolding around me here in the United States. But, that doesn’t mean that I can’t find things to feel grateful for. Other than my cat, the fact that my kid isn’t in a refugee camp in Syria, and the fact that I will have food available to eat for breakfast today (lots of people won’t), what’s making me happy this morning is this vocabulary of mining terminology in Inuktitut.
Inuktitut is an Inuit language spoken by a bit under 40,000 people in the north of Canada. It is a polysynthetic language, meaning that words have many parts, to the point that it’s not clear whether you would want to say that they actually have words, versus sentences. Here’s an Inuktitut word/sentence (from Wikipedia, citing an article on developing a screening tool for Inuktitut-language speech pathologists):
- ᖃᖓᑕᓲᒃᑯᕕᒻᒨᕆᐊᖃᓛᖅᑐᖓ (in Inuktitut orthography)
- qangatasuukkuvimmuuriaqalaaqtunga (transliteration)
- “I’ll have to go to the airport” (English translation)
Illuminating points about Inuktitut: the language has three vowels–in the International Phonetic Alphabet, [i], [u], and [a]. Spoken languages have a minimum of three vowels (yes, my fellow linguists, I am leaving out one controversial case here–don’t hate on me), and if a language only has three vowels, they are [i], [u], and [a]. (Languages with four vowels add [e] or [o]. Languages with five vowels have [i], [u], [a], [e], or [o].)
How do you come up with new terminology for a language that doesn’t have it? A workshop brought together a group consisting of:
- Tribal elders
- Inuktitut language specialists
- A mining expert
…who spent three days hashing it all out.
So, what does mining terminology look like in Inuktitut? Here are some examples from the glossary, maintained by the Department of Indigenous and Northern affairs:
imaginary lines that cross the surface of the Earth parallel to the equator used to determine location with longitude
the process by which a mineral is introduced into a rock, resulting in a valuable or potentially valuable deposit
a deposit of sand or gravel that contains particles of gold, gemstones, or other heavy minerals of value
a layer or bed of rock
…and that’s what’s making me happy today. Does seeking happiness in les bizarreries of human linguistic, social, and technological behavior that mean that I will ignore my citizenly duty to stay on top of the daily crimes of the crooks that are currently running my country? No. Does it mean that I actively and daily seek things to be grateful for? Yes–and I recommend that you try it. Can’t hurt, right?
Source of the picture at the top of the page: http://kiggavik.ca/tag/community-engagement/
to take to + present participle: to start a routine practice of doing something. Examples:
My cat, mainly black, took to lying outside livingroom door. In the dark. How I didn’t break my neck, or actually stand on him, beats me! He stopped after I accidentally… yes it was…booted him on the head. Now lying on my legs. Stopping circulation. My boy!
— Irene Danks (@irene_danks) February 4, 2018
I always felt Sean Spicer was, at least, conflicted about it. Rumor was he took to stress eating. SHS actually seems to relish her role disseminating the President’s lies. No hiding in the bushes for her!
— WM Bartle (@WM_Bartle) January 17, 2018
I see Sarah Sanders has taken to lying outside of her posted office hours. Ma’am. You lie every day. And you just told Chris Cuomo that you like your job. Which means you ENJOY lying to the American people. I have reserved several seats for you. 👎🏾🤷🏾♀️😒
— Miss Mox (@hotblackbitter) June 7, 2018
How I used it in the post: The New York Times has taken to publishing a page of good news on Sundays.
to take to + noun or present particple: to become good at some activity, especially quickly. You can often differentiate this from the previous usage by the presence of an analogy along with it: like a…
It’s begiining to look like all Russian roads end at kushner, who took to lying like a true trump!
— Ruby Dragonfly (@ruby_dragonfly) July 16, 2017
I created the Trump admin on the foundation of lies. I pride myself in how well they took to lying. This guy was a freakin embarrassment.
— SaTaN (@theREELSaTaN) September 19, 2017
to take to can also be used with a person as its object, or with a location, either physical (he took to the podium) or metaphorical (he took to Twitter to…) The meanings are different here–I’m too lazy to find a bunch of examples on this Sunday morning…
Sean Spicer lied every day he took to the podium.. He didn’t say he didn’ lie, he said, he doesn’t think he ever lied.
— Easy48 (@hankboo) September 21, 2017
It’s even more hypocritical that Sanders stood at her podium and defended businesses that refuse to serve gay people, and then took to Twitter to lament the injustice of being refused service at a restaurant because the owner cited their own moral convictions.
— Sky Palma (@DeadStateTweets) June 24, 2018
underwhelmed: not at all impressed. Note that underwhelmed is not the opposite of overwhelmed. (Lesson: do not look for “logic” in language.) Some examples:
Being hurt by someone’s inaction is the worst. Or underwhelmed by an action. Like you did something but I wanted more
— YourAssignedFBIAgent (@But_I_dnt_care) June 24, 2018
Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱
Paid the Dutch a visit and was really underwhelmed by The Red Light District: live sex show and all. Ate tons of Stroopwaffels like I am not already an Oompa Loompa. Survived one too many bicycle collisions: those things are a hazard! pic.twitter.com/ave3zGR7Y6
— Xolisa Mapatwana (@XolisaM_) June 24, 2018
Haha, there’s a scene in the film 10 Things I Hate About You:
“So, you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed…but can you ever just be whelmed?
“Uh, I think you can in Europe?”
— Charlotte & David | No Fixed Home (@NoFixedHome) June 24, 2018
(Love this one!)
How I used it in the post: I took a look at said good news this morning, and was underwhelmed–there’s just nothing there to remotely match the tragedy that I see unfolding around me here in the United States.