Symbols seem to surround us, from traffic signs to restroom and directional arrows. We have chemical symbols, warning symbols, the hazard diamond just in my field of chemistry. What about numbers? They are symbols as well based on an Arabic decimal system from the ninth century. Think about the symbols 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0. (remember that zero is a fairly new idea in numbers) What exactly do they mean? The first numeral system was probably tally marks. Marking one line for each counted item would have become unruly after the first hundred or so, at least very monotonous. Somewhere along the line, somebody made the decision to make another kind of mark mean some number of other marks. Revolutionary. World changing thought occurred in that instant. Something to think about. Around the same time, addition and subtraction must have been born, giving rise to mathematics. Mathematics is rife with symbols, all with their own life and system of operation. The next time you dial your cell phone, think about the symbol you have just used, as well as the status symbol you hold to make the call. Humans use symbols for many things, the list is constantly changing as well, evolving as we speak. The letters you are reading are symbols of the language that is fast becoming world-wide.
Something to think about...
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
I try to put in something in Salish, the language of my ancestors, and I have been amiss in not getting this out sooner. Try out Salishworld and get the Salish online dictionary and the Salish font. You can contact NKwusm, the Salish language immersion school in Arlee, MT (sorry for the lack of fonts here, hard to get it online.) and get assistance in pronunciation of the letters and words of the Salish language. You can also contact the Salish Kootenai College Bookstore at (406)275-4722 and order language materials from my friends there. They can even e-mail you a list of current Salish books available from SKC press. I hope this will pique the interest of some in my language. Remember that the people's worldview is rooted in the speech and metaphor of the individual placed-based groups.