A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘globalization

[URBAN NOTE] “Linguist documents dying languages still spoken in Toronto”

leave a comment »

The Toronto Star‘s Verity Stevenson describes how Toronto, as a destination for migrants from around the world, can play a useful role as a place where dying languages can be documented.

[Linguist and director of Queen’s University’s Strathy Language Unit, Anastasia] Riehl began the Alliance in Toronto after her Cornell University grad school colleague, Daniel Kaufman, launched one in New York. After years of documenting languages overseas, she discovered the last fluent speaker of a dying Latvian language, Livonian, lived outside Toronto from a relative vacationing in Argentina in 2011. The woman, Grizelda Kristina, was 101 and ailing.

“That’s when I was like, ‘OK, let’s just say we’re going to do this,’” she said of the day in 2011 which prompted Kaufman to fly to Toronto to interview the woman who died two years later.

Since then, she’s interviewed more than a dozen speakers of eight endangered languages from around the world. She’s working on a short documentary detailing the stories of three speakers. Riehl has cut back on some work obligation to devote more time to the project.

Toronto’s position as one of the most diverse cities in the world — more than 30 per cent of its residents speak a language other than English or French — makes it an “as good if not better” place to document endangered languages.

The city’s website pegs the number of languages and dialects spoken in the city at more than 140, but Riehl estimates there are “dozens” that don’t appear in census figures. Any language becomes endangered, according to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO), when its speakers cease to use it and when it is no longer passed on to the next generation.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2015 at 8:39 pm

[LINK] “Manufacturing Moved South, Then Moved Out”

leave a comment »

Bloomberg View’s Justin Fox reacts to Paul Theroux’s screed on Southern deindustrialization by taking a look at the statistics.

What seems to have happened is that the lowest-value Southern manufacturing jobs have gone to China and elsewhere, leaving behind fewer but higher-value, higher-skill jobs. Also, the union/nonunion pay gap has been shrinking in some industries, most notably automaking. The most highly compensated autoworkers in the U.S. are now those at Mercedes-Benz, who all work at a nonunion plant in Alabama.

Put these various pieces of evidence together, and the story I see is this: Manufacturing employment has taken it on the chin everywhere in the U.S., including the South. Worst-hit have been lower-value manufacturing operations of the sort often found in the small-town South that Theroux spent most of his time visiting — although small towns and rural areas are also struggling all over the country, for a variety of reasons. Meanwhile, makers of higher-value products such as cars and airplanes have actually shifted some operations to the South, but they’re generally located near mid-size or bigger cities such as Spartanburg, South Carolina, or Birmingham, Alabama. And the most successful Southern metropolitan areas — Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, the Research Triangle — haven’t built their economies around manufacturing. The parts of the South that industrialized did so just as industrialization was going out of style.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 8, 2015 at 8:31 pm

[LINK] “U.S. comic Sarah Silverman endorses Canadian NDP candidate”

leave a comment »

This Toronto Star report amused me.

American comedian Sarah Silverman made an unexpected foray into Canadian politics on Sunday, when she praised NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and urged voters to support one of the party’s candidates in British Columbia.

The New Democrats welcomed her endorsement, despite questions about whether she may have violated an obscure federal election law that prohibits foreigners from influencing how Canadians vote.

In a Twitter message sent Sunday morning, Silverman, a veteran actor and former Saturday Night Live cast member, appeared to back the NDP’s position on the niqab.

The Conservative party has sought to prohibit Muslim women from wearing the face covering during citizenship ceremonies, while the NDP believes women have the right to wear it. The issue has become one of the defining debates of this year’s election campaign.

“Kudos to @ThomasMulcair 4 supporting a woman’s right to wear what she wants w/out discrimination,” Silverman wrote.

She also urged voters to cast their ballots for Mira Oreck, the NDP candidate in the Vancouver Granville riding.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 7, 2015 at 9:00 pm

[CAT] My maneki neko from Honest Ed’s, at home

leave a comment »

Honest Ed's maneki neko by computer #toronto #honesteds #manekineko #catsofinstagram #caturday

Packaging for Honest Ed's maneki neko #toronto #honesteds #manekineko #china #chineselanguage

I posted a few days ago a picture of the maneki neko I bought for $C 6.99 at Honest Ed’s, but I thought this deserved a post of its own, here and today.

Can anyone tell me what the Chinese script on the packaging means?

Written by Randy McDonald

October 4, 2015 at 1:48 am

[BLOG] Some Friday links

leave a comment »

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly asks readers how they define their community.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the Rosetta probe’s unusual comet.
  • Crooked Timber notes the death of Brian Friel.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports that hot Jupiter 51 Pegasi b apparently does not have rings.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests the bright spots on Ceres are salt deposits.
  • Language Hat wonders where the sabra accent of Hebrew comes from.
  • Languages of the World suggests grammar is a better guide to language history than words.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the Russian deployment in Syria.
  • The Map Room’s Jonathan Crowe exposes the failings of the Mercator projection.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if there might be a South Asian free trade zone soon.
  • Out There notes that Earth’s near-twin Venus is important for many reasons, not least as a guide to exoplanets.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at population growth in the North Caucasus and examines xenophobic rhetoric in Russia.

[LINK] “The Last European: Romanian Driver Navigates the Soul of the EU”

leave a comment »

Juan Moreno’s Spiegel article does an interesting job tracing the movements of Romanians across an increasingly united Europe.

In 1992, Romania still had 23 million inhabitants. Today there are 4 million fewer. Those who emigrated profit from the fact that Europe has an undeclared division of labor that goes something like this: Wherever uneducated, rather than educated, workers are needed, employers look for Romanians. Even the Germans.

If it weren’t for Romanians, slaughterhouse owners would be chest-deep in pig halves. Without them, real estate developers could forget about Germany’s glorious construction boom. The same goes for asparagus and potato harvests. In their view, anything is better than staying in Romania. As a result, leaving home is about the most Romanian thing a person can do — and that’s not difficult at all.

All it takes is climbing into a mini-bus and rattling westward. There are hundreds of these busses in every Romanian city. A one-way ticket to Germany costs €70 ($77); to the Netherlands, €80; Belgium, €80; France, Italy, Portugal, €120. A massive armada of small Romanian buses has been traversing Europe for years.

This is where our hero comes in, a hero for freedom, a hero for the market economy — somehow, in his own way, a hero for Europe. He prefers to be called Viktor Talic. His real name, he claims, would be unwise to use — it would put him in danger of being persecuted, as heroes so often are.

Talic is on his way to Portugal. He’s more than just a bus driver, he’s also a shipper, money courier, messenger and smuggler rolled into one. With eight of his compatriots in his Mercedes Sprinter, he moves people and goods from Point A (Romania) to Point B (Portugal), a route many Romanians have taken.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2015 at 9:58 pm

[BRIEF NOTE] On the problems of a valid Iroquois passport

leave a comment »

Sarah Moses’ Syracuse.com article “Team England arrives on Onondaga Nation to get passports stamped” caught some attention on Facebook earlier this month.

Members of Team England arrived on the Onondaga Nation this morning to get their passports stamped and practice for the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship, which starts Friday.

Team England is the first team to arrive on the nation and to have their passports stamped, said Jeanne Shenandoah, of the Onondaga Nation. Shenandoah and Awhenjiosta Myers stamped the passport this morning.

The Onondaga Nation and Syracuse will be the site of the world indoor championship. This is the first international sporting event held on indigenous lands.

Thirteen teams will be competing in the tournament. The other teams will be arriving this week for the games and each team will have their passports stamped with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy stamp.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy has issued its own passports for more than 30 years. In 2010, England would not allow the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team to enter the country to compete in the world championships because the players were traveling on their Haudenosaunee passports.

North Country Public Radio’s coverage of the tournament, incidentally, is good reading.

The question of the Iroquois passport has been an active one, with the travel document apparently being only intermittantly recognized by different governments, Canada and the United States included. For the Iroquois, the passport is a badge of identity and sovereignty. I get that. Does this gesture still work when it’s not accompanied by much sovereignty on the ground?

What say you?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 29, 2015 at 3:54 am


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 470 other followers