About This Blog

This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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Did you know that there are about 7000 languages spoken in the world today?

And that about half of them aren’t being taught to children anymore?

Which means that soon, half of the languages in the world will be gone.

The estimate is that, with the death of an elder, a language dies every two weeks.

The Language Archive - photo by David Cooper from anewscafe.com To Kill a Mockingbird - photo by Jenny Graham from napavalleyregister.com
(Oregon Shakespeare Festival - left: The Language Archive; right: To Kill a Mockingbird)

There’s some interesting things to think about in The Language Archive by Julia Cho. There’s the elderly couple who are the last two speakers of the fictitious language Elloway. Rather than speak in their native language to document it before it disappears, they choose to bicker in English. When they discuss their use of English, they say that English is the language of anger (Elloway is a language of love) and that they choose to use English to fight and to say things they don’t wish to have permanence. Hah.

But George, one of the main characters, who’s a linguist and the main person behind The Language Archive (dedicated to documenting and preserving rare languages), mourns the loss of language. He explains to his wife, who is puzzled about his lack of reaction to world tragedies, that he finds the death of a language far more sad than the loss of single lives because a language represents an entire society and its worldview. Later on, when his wife leaves him and he’s trying to get her back, he says that there is a special language that only they understand – the language of their relationship – and he doesn’t want that to die.

What he fails to realize is what one of the elderly Elloway speakers clearly understands. George thinks it’s sad when a language dies because a world dies with it. But the elder says that it’s the opposite – the world dies first, and then the language fades away.

Ashland - Lithia Park Historic Jacksonville
(left: Lithia Park in Ashland; right: historic Jacksonville)

On my trips to Ashland, I keep talking to people who make the Oregon Shakespeare Festival a yearly tradition. This time, we talked to a woman who had been going for about 20 years! She organizes a group that always goes for the same week each year, and they see all of the plays showing at the time. But even that is not enough – some of the plays only run for half of the year, so she makes additional trips to see some of those. I’ve been going twice a year – this is my fifth trip – and I am not tired of it yet. I think I’ve gotten my mom hooked, so hopefully we can continue this mother-daughter trip tradition… for the next twenty years?

The plays are fantastic. The town is a lovely getaway, full of B&Bs, cute shops, and delicious restaurants. Tax-free shopping in Oregon. And lots to see on the way – Portland, Crater Lake, and this time we stopped by historic Jacksonville. Ended up buying three loaves of bread! There’s still the whole Rogue River Valley to explore. Hiking? White water rafting? Hmmm…

 Dinner at Larks - black cod Breakfast at Morning Glory Cafe - tofu chilaquiles
(left: black cod at Larks Restaurant in Ashland; right: tofu chilaquiles at Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene)

And of course, the food is very important to me. My mom rolls her eyes at how far out of the way I’ll drive to make sure we’re not eating at Denny’s for lunch. “Izakaya” style small plates in Portland, hippie vegetarian breakfast in Eugene, fancy seafood in Ashland.

Looking forward to the next trip! Highly encourage any of you in the Washington/Oregon/NorCal area to make the trip as well – it’s totally worth it.