A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘ethiopia

[URBAN NOTE] “U of T students flock to ancient language Ge’ez course, funded in part by The Weeknd”

NOW Toronto‘s David Silverberg takes a look at the course in Ge’ez, a liturgical language of Ethiopia, newly offered by the University of Toronto thanks to funding by Ethiopian-Canadian rapper The Weeknd.

How does someone teach a language when we have no idea what it might actually sound like?

That’s one of the questions for U of T’s Robert Holmsted, who’s teaching the university’s course on the liturgical Ethiopian language Ge’ez.

In its first semester at U of T, his class has five undergraduates and five graduate students enrolled, and several more students auditing the class. They all realize that deciphering ancient languages can help us learn about a country’s ancient past.

Manuscripts in the language, which hasn’t been spoken in 1,000 years, date from as far back as the sixth century BCE. In fact, contemporary scholars of such ancient languages may not be able to ascertain the true sound of the language at all.

Holmstedt agrees that no one can truly know how centuries-old languages were pronounced, but we can get some clues from other Semitic tongues.

“Without recordings, we have to do our best to reconstruct the sound from Semitic languages,” he says. “We make an approximation and can never know for sure.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto finally got its first test LRT from Bombardier, after many delays.
  • Centauri Dreams considers some of the problems with drafting a message to extraterrestrial civilizations.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that an upcoming Japanese telescope could detect oxygen on, among other planets, K2-3d.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Ivanka Trump’s shoe factory is moving from China to Ethiopia in pursuit of lower wages.
  • Language Hat links to a report on Alghero, the city that is the heart of a fading enclave of Catalan on the Italian island of Sardinia.
  • The LRB Blog notes the ascent of François Filion in France.
  • Otto Pohl describes the position of Soviet Kurds.
  • pollotenchegg reports on ethnic diversity in the different raions of Ukraine.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer links to a 2013 study suggesting Cuba under Communism underperformed significantly.
  • Towleroad looks at Donald Trump’s claim of voter fraud.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that deniers of the Holodomor should be shamed.

[URBAN NOTE] “The Weeknd is helping U of T resurrect a lost Ethiopian language”

Katie Ingram at MacLean’s reports on how The Weeknd is funding a course at the University of Toronto aimed at reviving the ancient Ethiopian language of Ge’ez.

Along with Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, Ethiopia’s Ge’ez is considered one of the world’s oldest Semitic languages—but you’ve probably never heard of it.

Michael Gervers, a professor in the department of historical and cultural studies at the University of Toronto, believes it’s important to resurrect it. “The entire history of Ethiopia is in this language,” he says. “Everything written up until 1850 was written in Ge’ez, so we have 2,000 years of textual material that people don’t have access to.” It was replaced by Amharic as Ethiopia’s official language.

In 2015, Gervers started a fund to create an Ethiopian studies program at U of T, setting a goal of $200,000 and donating $50,000 of his own money. The dean’s office matched that donation; and this year, so did Abel Tesfaye—the Toronto-born, Grammy-winning R&B singer professionally known as The Weeknd, whose parents immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in the 1980s.

Tesfaye promoted the cause to his more than four million Twitter followers. “Sharing our brilliant and ancient history of Ethiopia. Proud to support the studies in our homie town through @UofT and @bikilaaward,” he wrote.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 18, 2016 at 8:00 pm

[LINK] “Ethiopia Alleges Oromo Protesters Receiving Support From Egypt”

Bloomberg’s William Davison reports on the Ethiopian allegation that ethnic Oromo protesters are being covertly supported by Egypt.

Ethiopia’s government suspects Egyptian elements may be backing Oromo protesters as rivalry over control of the Nile River intensifies, Communications Minister Getachew Reda said.

Authorities in Cairo may be supporting the banned Oromo Liberation Front, or OLF, that organized a spate of attacks last week across Ethiopia’s most populous region, which led to the declaration of a state of emergency on Sunday, he told reporters Monday in the capital, Addis Ababa.

“We have ample evidence that trainings have happened, financing has happened in Egypt, the jury is still out whether the Egyptian government is going to claim responsibility for that,” Getachew said. “Nor are we saying it is directly linked with the Egyptian government, but we know for a fact the terrorist group OLF has been receiving all kind of support from Egypt.”

Egypt’s government has claimed Ethiopia’s construction of a hydropower dam on the main tributary of the Nile contravenes colonial-era treaties that grant it the right to the bulk of the river’s water. Ethiopian officials reject the accords as obsolete and unjust.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 17, 2016 at 4:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto has its first Ethiopian food truck.
  • Beyond the Beyond considers the alien ocean of Europa.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the protoplanetary disks of brown dwarfs.
  • D-Brief notes that Saturn’s moon Dione may have a subsurface ocean.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze looks at how broadly Earth-like exoplanets form their atmospheres.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog wonders about the benefits of praising failure, as a sign of risk-taking.
  • Far Outliers notes how the English village became an imaginary eden.
  • Language Log looks at a Hong Kong legislator’s Sanskrit tattoo.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes one man’s upset with the announcement that Wonder Woman must have a bi past.
  • The LRB Blog considers controversy over electoral boundaries in the United Kingdom.
  • The Map Room Blog links to some maps showing the continuing divisions of post-reunification Germany.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at the limit of Danish “hygge”, coziness.
  • Seriously Science looks at the surgeries performed on fish.

[URBAN NOTE] “The Weeknd donates $50,000 to U of T to launch Ethiopian Studies program”

The Globe and Mail‘s Ellen Brait reports.

Grammy-winning artist The Weeknd has donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to help start an Ethiopian Studies program.

The artist, who was born under the name Abel Tesfaye, is a Scarborough native whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia. The Bikila Awards organization, which works to “foster academic, professional and business excellence and promote volunteerism among persons of Ethiopian origin,” reached out to Tesfaye for funding and he immediately responded. Previously, in 2014, the Bikila Awards organization had awarded Tesfaye with its Professional Excellence Award.

On Saturday, the Weeknd tweeted “sharing our brilliant and ancient history of Ethiopia. proud to support the studies in our homie town through @UofT and @bikilaaward”

The money will go toward a larger fundraising campaign which started last year when University of Toronto history and cultural studies professor Michael Gervers pledged a donation of $50,000 of his own money if the amount was matched by the school and the Ethiopian community. The campaign has raised $170,000 thus far.

Proceeds will go towards a course, to be offered later this year, in the ancient Ethiopic language Ge’ez. The school and Bikila hope to follow this with a full program in the future.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 9, 2016 at 2:32 pm

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

  • Astronomy Now notes a white dwarf star that is consuming what looks to be limestone debris from one of its planets. Is this a sign of marine life?
  • Bloomberg notes Rolls-Royce’s opposition to Brexit, notes how international sanctions are hurting Hezbollah, looks at China’s massive spending on infrastructure, notes how Donald Trump has barred the Washington Post from covering his campaign, reports that Sydney and Melbourne have applied extra fees for foreig home-buyers, and notes how a China-funded push to expand sugar production in Ethiopia has hit snags.
  • Bloomberg View looks at the extent to which Germany does not dominate the European Union.
  • CBC notes how anti-gay bigotry is connected to the Orlando shooting, and reports on Peter Mackay’s regrets that Canada did not buy new fighter jets.
  • The Inter Press Service notes that the world’s nuclear arsenal has become smaller but is undergoing modernization.
  • MacLean’s considers barriers to interprovincial trade in Canada and reports on the outrage of a juror on the Stanford sex assault case at the light sentence imposed by the judge.
  • National Geographic looks at the mangrove swamp of Iran’s Qeshm Island.
  • Open Democracy takes issue with the idea that the intervention in Libya was a success, notes reasons for Scotland’s relative liking of the European Union, and looks at the Iranian events of June 1981.
  • Universe Today notes that mammals were flourishing even before the dinosaurs departed.