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Posts Tagged ‘edinburgh’

I’ve written several posts on the threat to languages that have few speakers — and on the linguistic preservationists racing against time. (Here, for example.)

Why does language extinction matter, you ask? Because language embodies so much about culture. We are poorer in being ignorant of how different people live and in having a chance to learn taken away from us.

Now the last speaker of a rare Scots dialect is gone. Writes the Associated Press, “In a remote fishing town on the tip of Scotland’s Black Isle, the last native speaker of the Cromarty dialect has passed away, taking with him a little fragment of the English linguistic mosaic.

“Academics said [October 3] that Bobby Hogg, who was 92 when he died … was the last person fluent in the dialect once common to the seaside town of Cromarty, 175 miles (280 kilometers) north of Edinburgh.

“ ‘I think that’s a terrible thing,’ said Robert Millar, a linguist at the University of Aberdeen in northern Scotland. ‘The more diversity in terms of nature we have, the healthier we are. It’s the same with language.’ …

“It’s part of a relentless trend toward standardization which has driven many regional dialects and local languages into oblivion. Linguists often debate how to define and differentiate the world’s many dialects, but most agree that urbanization, compulsory education and mass media have conspired to iron out many of the kinks that make rural speech unique.” More.

Photograph: Am Baile-High Life Highland/Associated Press.
Bobby Hogg, who recently passed away aged 92.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Festival of short theater pieces always sounds like as much fun as the Newport Folk Festival of the 1960s. Maybe more fun.

An intriguing example is described in the August 16, 2011, issue of the Guardian.

“Some shows at the Edinburgh festival are daylight robbery. Some are cheap at the price, and some cost nothing. There is only one show at this year’s festival, however, that invites members of the audience to come on stage and shred their banknotes. And the surprise of it is, people do it.

“Gary McNair, a Glasgow-based theatre-maker, is the artist behind the one-man show Crunch, which runs until 27 August at Forest Fringe. Conceived in the wake of the financial crisis, while McNair was an associate artist of the National Theatre of Scotland, the show seeks to critique money as a belief system. In it, McNair promises a ‘five-step programme’ to ‘release you from the terrors of the financial system.’ …

“The climax of the show was … the moment when he suggested members of the audience feed their hard-earned cash through an office shredder, ‘as a vaccine against the disasters of the future, so that money and greed will lose their grip on you.’ Five did, with £10 notes as well as £5 notes returned to their owners as useless slithers of paper.” Read more here.

At YouTube, McNair Explains his art.

Meanwhile, Cookie Monster contends that “God’s Away on Business.”

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