Summer Favorites: 2019

Hello!

I was going to make a Spring Favorites post before this one, but this past summer was just too busy for me to even think about it. So instead, I mashed up my spring and summer favorites into one post. Here’s all my favorite books, movies, shows, and more from the past few months!

Books:

  • The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab
    I’ve mentioned that Victoria V.E. Schwab is my favorite author. And her trilogy, Shades of Magic, is one of my favorite fantasy series. The Steel Prince is a comic book prequel to that trilogy. I read the first volume (six or so issues) and really enjoyed it. The world she’s built is incredible and I really loved seeing that world come to life visually.
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
    The Circle is a terrifying look into our immediate future, or even our present. It shows the worst part of social media and connectivity, an Orwellian glimpse of what companies like Facebook and Google could become — or are already. Although I raced through what is essentially a story about a young woman starting a new job as if it were a spy thriller, I was disappointed in the protagonist’s character arc — which, to me, wasn’t much of an arc at all. Regardless, I enjoyed the book. Even if it made me want to never log in to any social media account again.
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
    The book – or I should say, essay – A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf is one of the best things I’ve ever read. I loved what it says about women and writing: that if they just had a place of their own and the monetary support as men do, they too could reach the notoriety of the great writers of the past, like Shakespeare, for their talents in writing. She brilliantly illustrates this with her essay, imagining a world in which the Bard had an equally-talented sister. It’s a great, important read that I highly recommend to all, but especially those who write.

Film & Television:

  • Killing Eve, Season Two
    I’ve had Killing Eve on my favorites list before but I had to add season two specifically, because it was so good. I’m in awe of the acting ability of Jodie Comer and, as always, Sandra Oh. The writing of this show is fantastic, the dynamic between the two women is genuinely fascinating. And the music??? Ugh, the music is just incredible. I love this show so much.
  • Booksmart
    Y’alllllll this film was hilarious. The writing was smart and it felt real, as of not just this general decade, but of this year. It was one of the better depcitions of teens and coming-of-age stories that I’ve seen. Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are truly two of the best actresses of this younger generation. And every side character’s acting (some of them weren’t even professional actors) was great. Billie Lourd’s Gigi is the best, I think about her at least six times a day. Also, I will be pronouncing Barcelona as Noah Galvin does for the rest of time, as it should be pronounced.
  • Midsommar
    This film was beautiful and disturbing and incredible and horrific. It’s such an experience to watch. A beautifully shot, incredibly designed, sometimes-gory experience. The most beautiful horror movie of all time? It’s a trip and a half. It’s intense. I loved it and never want to watch it again. I was completely alone in the theater which was weirdly great – I was able to sit comfortably while the most disturbing piece of art I’d ever seen played out before my eyes. I was glad to be alone. Other thoughts: Ari Aster is brilliant. Florence Pugh is so incredible in everything I’ve seen her in and she’s beyond in this. And, spoilers: Christian had it coming. I’m really sad about the bear.

Music:

  • Unloved
    Aaaaaand, speaking of Killing Eve, Unloved is a band and a lot of the music played on the show is their own. I love the music on that show and I’ve been enjoying their music a lot. I especially love When a Woman is Around and Crash Boom Bang. These songs were kind of the soundtrack to my entire June and July.
  • Billie Eilish
    My GOD, this girl is talented. Her music is so dark. It’s like depression with a beat. Her videos are real creepy too and I like it. I especially love her songs, When the Party’s Over, Bury a Friend, Ocean Eyes, and of course, the song of the summer, Bad Guy.
  • half.alive
    Yooo this new band is great. Their first single still feel. was my jam for a few months after it was released and now their whole album has come out and it’s so good. Here’s literally just a list of the songs that I’m loving: ok ok?, arrow, creature, RUNAWAY, and ice cold (feat. Kimbra). Soooo good.
  • CJ Bissett
    Ok. So. I know of CJ Bissett through his sister’s YouTube channel. He’s recently just released his very first gothic folk rock album, Arthur & Jane, and I looooove it. It’s an incredible album. Some favorite tracks: So He Waited, Arthur & Jane, Pink Flower, Gimme a Year, and Take it to the Ocean.
  • Foxwarren
    My current favorite song is Everything Apart by Foxwarren. I can’t describe why I love it so much, it just has that perfect tempo and sound that I’ve been looking for in a song. It’s my true match. A perfect song. I also really love their song Sunset Canyon.
  • Vampire Weekend
    And last but not least, Vampire Weekend’s new album (Father of the Bride) came out a real long ass time ago, but I didn’t do a Spring Favorites post so it’s coming up now. I listened to this album almost exclusively during all of May. There was some special moments back during that month and I immediately remember them when listening to any of the songs. My favorites are these: Harmony Hall, Bambina, This Life, and Sympathy.

Other:

  • StarKid
    So this past spring, I had a bit of a mental hiccup and quarter-life crisis. Again. No big deal, it’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine. I basically did nothing during all of April. One thing I DID do, is become enraptured by the wonderful world of StarKid. I originally watched A Very Potter Musical when it came out while I was in high school but didn’t know until 2016 that they’d done other shows! It was the “I Don’t Want to do the Work Today” meme from their show Firebringer that allowed me to re-find them. But when I originally went to watch it, I saw that it was two hours long and I didn’t have time, so I saved it for later…then promptly forgot about it. Three years later, this year, I remembered it and decided to watch. It was hilarious. I loved it. I moved on to their other shows, The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals, Twisted, and my personal favorite, The Trail to Oregon! They’re all great. And that led me to find the group the Tin Can Bros, some of the guys from the StarKid crew who make their own stuff together. Their show, Spies are Forever, was so good and featured a familiar face to me, Mary Kate Wiles from my favorite web series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Which leads me too…
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party
    The team of Shipwrecked, Mary Kate included, often collaborates with some of the StarKid and Tin Can Bros crew. So from StarKid, it led me all the way to to find my current favorite web series/film: Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party. It’s a very funny story of Edgar Allan Poe inviting a group of literary guests (anachronistically ranging from Mary Shelley to Hemingway) for a murder mystery dinner party that becomes and ACTUAL murder mystery. It’s so good and funny. It’s the best. I plan on watching it again around Halloween.
  • Nathaniel Drew
    I recently stumbled upon Nathaniel Drew’s YouTube channel and I really dig his videos. He has such a great point of view, has incredibly well-shot and edited videos, and has really been changing the way I look at things. I really appreciate the time and effort he puts into his videos.
  • Nikki Nasty (Nicole Rafiee)
    My new favorite, hands down. She’s hilarious. Her videos are just about her life, being at college, being vegan, jokes about her dad who left her as a child, etc. just stuff like that. She’s so funny and her videos are edited so well. She makes a video about gluing rhinestones to her inhaler entertaining as hell. She’s great!

Okay that’s all my favorites from the last few months! I can’t believe it’s already fall. The leaves are starting to change! It’s getting cold! It’s insane. I’m exhausted already. Stay safe and brace yourself for the coming winter, folks. It’s coming up fast.

✌️

Advertisements

The Reading Rush – 2019

Hello!

Last week was the Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon) and I participated again! It was fun! I read a lot! But still not enough!

This year was tough for some reason. They changed it up, so now there wasn’t the main challenge of reading seven books in the seven days. So it could be any number! I chose five! And it was still extremely difficult for me. I mean, I’ve reached 6.5 books. It shouldn’t have been THAT hard, yet here we are, the Monday after, and I’ve only read 3.5 books.

Here was my TBR and what I actually read:

Saga, Vol 9 by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples (COMPLETE)
A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (COMPLETE)
The Circle by Dave Eggers (COMPLETE)
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (HALF)
Black Heart by Holly Black (NEVER EVEN TOUCHED)

Here’s the breakdown of my days reading:

  1. Read a book with purple on the cover (The Near Witch)
  2. Read a book in the same spot the entire time (Saga, Vol 9)
  3. Read a book you meant to read last year (-)
  4. Read an author’s first book (The Near Witch)
  5. Read a book with a non-human main character (Saga, Vol 9)
  6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title (A Room of One’s Own)
  7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation (The Circle)

I read 928 pages, which is a lot for me, sure. In a WEEK? That’s insane. Sometimes I don’t get that in a month. I’m just disappointed because I didn’t get to all of them. I thought, SURELY, this year, with no 7 books challenge, I could get to 5??? Nope. I was too tired and kept falling asleep while reading by day 4.

Oh well! I still read a lot, had fun, and can’t wait for next year!!!

I will say that the whole little team of two or three who run the Reading Rush do, and especially did this year, an incredible job! The new website is awesome and fun. The new name is great and easier for my family to understand what I’m doing for a week (lol). The whole experience was great. I just wish I’d had more time to read this year!

2019 Goals: Reevaluation and Changes

It’s that time of year again, where I reevaluate my entire life and decide to change my goals for the year. It’s fine, I’m fine, everything’s fine.

So let’s do a quick recap of the goals I’ve set at the beginning of 2019 and where I’m at.

Design

  • freelance work (I’m still chugging along, always in the need of more clients)
  • plan to open online shop (this is a slow process that I’ve been procrastinating on but I think I’m going to focus more on it soon)
  • 1 personal design project a week (52) (I’ve done about 20 so far, having a bit of a hectic June/July, but I think I’ll get back to it)

Writing

  • finish NaNoWriMo ’18 draft (good LORD, this book is long and I haven’t had many days to focus on writing it)
  • NaNoWriMo ’19 (coming in November!)
  • outline fantasy series (I have been doing this and it’s been swell! outline isn’t totally done but I have mostly outlined the big picture arc of the series and the first book’s full outline to write during this year’s NaNoWriMo!)
  • Thoughtless (a book I should be writing) (lololol)

Reading

  • read 52 books (lololol, I’ve honestly been trying to read more I swear – I’ve read 9 thus far, but Reading Rush is happening now and I always read more later in the year it’s fine it’s fine I’m fine everything’s fine)
  • complete trilogies/series (literally forgot this was a goal, but I haven’t really done this yet at all, but I have a few second and third books to read, so maybe?)
  • read more often (I’m trying, okay?)
  • Reading Rush (formerly BookTube-A-Thon) (happening as I type this!!!)

Film

  • watch 30 films (I’m about halfway there, which is great! TWO already in theaters!)
  • write/shoot short film (in process of writing, will decide if I want to shoot it in August???)
  • write feature-length film (probably this fall)

Illustration

  • sketching and illustrating 2 days a month (nah, man I don’t have the capacity – I think my time with illustration has come to an end, I’ve reached my peak, I can’t get any better without more focus and time but it’s all good)
  • Inktober (still doing this because it’s fun!!!)

Health & Fitness

  • walk everyday (have been doing great!!!!)
  • workout 3x a week (lol was doing well but stopped for a few months but back on it!!!)
  • go to bed/wake up earlier (kind of? 7am average is early, right?)
  • 2 sodas a week (I gave this up looooong before April even began but I have to say, most of the sodas I drink now – which the number has gone down significantly, but nowhere near 2 a week – are diet, which ain’t great for me but I’m trying)

Other

  • 1 intake day a week (was doing this for a while and loved it but I think an hour a day would be better? it just didn’t fit within my schedule)
  • grow social media (I’m trying but no one likes me it’s not my fault lol)
  • post regularly on blog (I have been doing this! if you read these posts, you probably could tell. I doubt it though, I see the traffic on this blog and it’s looooow but still!)
  • further learning – 12 posts (killin’ this, I love it so much and this is a great segue….)

There’s been some changes happening in my life, over the last year or so. I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it, and I have come to the decision that I want to go back to school.

That’s right! Back to college. Back to the book learning. Since doing “Further Learning” on this blog, I’ve realized how much I love learning and how much I love learning about language, specifically. I don’t know for sure, but I’ve been thinking about going back to school for Linguistics and/or English and creative writing. Maybe something else. I haven’t nailed anything down yet. (I’ve been looking at school’s and doing some research about it, though. It’s weird being a “non-traditional student” going to school later in life at 26. There’s so many questions and it’s not easy to navigate.) But I miss school. I regret not going to college formally. I need a big, wonderful change in my life.

For a few years now, I’ve been feeling restless, feeling like my life has hit a weird stand-still. That stagnant, static life of mine burst to life briefly last summer when the opportunity to live in Spain for just under a year came about. It was exciting and terrifying and I felt like, Ah, yes, finally, my life is about to start. But when that fell through, and the small business I was co-running decided to (maybe temporarily) shut down, I felt that same static feeling wash over me again. I’m just here. Waiting and wanting and unhappy about it.

It took me a while to realize that I don’t have to wait. I don’t have to want. I can do, I can seize. All I have to do is pick myself up and do it. And I’m tired of feeling like I can’t do the things I want.

So I’m going to. It’s going to take some time. I don’t know when school would be happening. I need to figure out all of that and figure out my life as I work toward getting there, because I still need money and to work in the mean time.

That’s my new goal for this year. The main goal. And I’m excited and terrified and it feels great.

Further Learning: A History of Language – Part VI – “Colors”

Hello! Welcome to Further Learning, a little project of mine where I continue my education after school and post about what I’m learning. Right now, I’m learning about language! To start from the beginning with A History of Language – Part I, click here.

Since I’ve mostly moved on from John McWhorter’s The Power of Babel, I’ve been reading from his other book Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English and from the new-to-me podcast, my current favorite, Lingthusiasm! Information in this post will primarily be from these sources, unless otherwise stated. Also Wikipedia. I’m human, okay?

And, as always, if you know what you’re talking about (I’m doing this to learn and share, not teach — I’m an amateur here) please feel free to comment with more information or correction!

Colors

Today we’re talking about color names!!!

I’ve always loved colors and their names. I’m sure you could find an old notebook of mine when I was a kid with colors in some kind of categorization. I remember, while in the 5th or 6th grade, I would go to my sister’s basketball games, and because ugh, sports, I would spend my time charting how many of each color Skittles came in the packet I’d buy at the concession stand — you know, instead of watching the game. I had pages and pages of this information from at least two years of games. I did that for no reason other than my own curiosity. (If I remember correctly, the tropical flavored Skittles had more pinks in each packet than any other color. You’re welcome for that incredibly useless fact.)

Anyway, I also went into graphic design and I’ve always been interested in art. One of my favorite classes in design school was color theory. So, color has always just been a part of my life. But color names are what’s really interesting to me. And I’ve recently learned some incredible things that I want to share about color!

Basic Color Terms

English has eleven basic color terms. Black, white, red, yellow, green, blue, brown, purple, pink, orange, and gray. We have a large range of basic color names. Other languages have a varied number of color terms, some less and a few have more.

From the work of Brent Berlin and Paul Kay, they proposed that different cultures’ languages have different amounts of color terms. All cultures have at least “black” and “white,” a set ranging from dark/cool to light/warm, but if they were to have a third, it’s pretty much always red. The rest follow in stages like this:

Stage I: black & white
Stage II: red
Stage III: yellow or green
Stage IV: yellow and green
Stage V: blue
Stage VI: brown
Stage VII: purple, pink, orange, or gray

The more complex a language is, the more main color terms they have. And, it is specifically in this order. So a language might have words for the colors black, white, yellow, green, and blue but not specific names for brown, purple, pink, orange, or gray. This language would be in Stage V.

Many other languages are Stage VII along with English, including the Romance languages, Arabic, Chinese, and the Iroquoian language spoken by Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, and many others. A few languages go one step further and have twelve color terms, like Italian, Hebrew, and Russian, that distinguishes between light blue (azure) and blue. English doesn’t do the same with blue, but we do that with red and pink—which is technically just light red. I also read in an article by Chelsea Wald, that Korean, interestingly, separates yellow-green (yeondu) and green (chorok) in two different terms, unlike other languages.

There are languages like the Yele language spoken in Papa New Guinea that only has basic color terms for black , white, and red—this language is in Stage II. Languages that don’t have as many main color terms may still have words to describe the other colors, but they are words meaning other objects that they use to describe that color. Like, in Yele, they have a word to describe an orange color, the word for “tree sap,” as they do for yellow and green, the words meaning “ripe banana” and “unripe banana.” Vox did an interesting, and visually beautiful, video about all of this here:

Interestingly, I’d watched that video a few years ago when it first came out and forgot entirely about it. I relearned about the Berlin-Kay stages during an episode of Lingthusiasm I recently listened to. I don’t know why I forgot about it, but both times I was equally interested.

Blue/Green

Many languages don’t separate blue and green into separate words. This if often referred to as “grue.” To those language speakers, blue and green are just different tones of the same color. This, I could understand, especially after reading in that same article by Wald, that a Brazilian language called Karajá has four basic color terms (which would put them at Stage III) but lumps yellow, blue, and green all as one color. At first, I was shocked…and then I realized that if we looked at those colors as related, the link between yellow and blue being green, and that many languages look at warm/cool first, it makes complete sense. Yellow is just a warm green and blue is just a cool green. There just isn’t a word for those different greens in that language, just like we don’t have a basic word for light blue but we have one for light red (pink).

Because the stages work in the way that they do, speakers of languages that don’t make a distinction between blue and green, won’t move on to having words for brown, purple, pink, orange, and gray until they do. It would be easy, without the separation of blue and green, to see that pink is just light red, orange is just a shade of red or yellow, brown is just a darker shade of the same, purple could go either way into red or blue depending on the shade, and gray is just a light or dark color.

A while ago, before I was even interested in this, there was a long article I read about how this blue/green distinction caused speakers of those languages without a distinct blue to not notice blue. Basically, it said that if there wasn’t a word for blue in the language, those people couldn’t see blue. This is hotly debated as being false with many explanations to the “evidence” of this. You can read up about this topic here.

So what is my favorite color, you ask? Hilariously…it’s grue. I mean, blue/green. Often known as teal or turquoise, sometimes other names depending on the shade. Specifically, I like the shades “peacock blue” and “mint.” I used to only like blue, but the greener side has been growing on me and now I just like blue-green shades.

Favorite Facts & Tidbits

  • Orange is named after the fruit, as orange is a less common color in nature — or at least for a singular item. Carrots came in many colors before orange carrots were the main carrot, so the citrus fruit became the official color’s name. Probably, I assume, as people used it to explain the type of orange they were describing, it became the color’s name. Like, if someone said, “That’s a beautiful shirt, it’s a beautiful color — like salmon.” Now we have salmon the color and salmon the fish.
  • And speaking of orange, I learned on my new favorite podcast Lingthusiasm (there episode about color, which is where I was inspired for this post and got much information for it) that the term “redhead” uses red instead of orange, which is much closer to the color redhead actually are, because red was the closest color to describe red hair at the time — this was pre-orange.
  • I already mentioned orange, but also pink comes from an object, a flower family called “pinks.” Black’s etymology comes from a word meaning “burnt” and white comes from a word meaning “bright.” Green’s etymology has the same root as the words “grow and “grass.”

All the colors of the rainbow…

I talked a lot about color names and I literally barely scratched the surface. I could go in-depth about English’s color words alone. That’s all for now!

Further Learning: A History of Language – Part V – “What’s Up With English? (III)”

Hello! Welcome to Further Learning, a little project of mine where I continue my education after school and post about what I’m learning. Right now, I’m learning about language! To start from the beginning with A History of Language – Part I, click here.

It’s time to talk more about how weird English is again! I’ve been reading from the book Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English and listening to the podcast Lingthusiasm. Information in this post will primarily be from these sources, unless otherwise stated. Most of this particular post is from Wikipedia, (wo)man’s best informational friend. (I realize some things on Wiki can be wrong. Take all knowledge with a grain of salt. Not just in this post, but also in life.)

And, as always, if you know what you’re talking about (I’m doing this to learn and share, not teach — I’m an amateur here) please feel free to comment with more information or correction!

What’s Up With English? (III)

Did you know that English-speaking countries are really the only ones that have spelling bees? That’s how fucking dumb (and wonderful) our language is. It’s become a competition for us, knowing how to spell our own language.

That’s it. That’s the post.

…Okay, obviously not.

Today I wanted to talk about LETTERS!!! We’re going to discuss the alphabet and where our letters came from.

I briefly discussed in another post about how our numerals (1, 2, 3…etc.) came from the Arabic numerals. We didn’t have symbols for our numbers, we just used the Roman Numerals (I, II, III…etc.) that came so nicely with our letter system. Europeans adopted the Arabic numerals from Arabic-speakers in North Africa (who, in turn, had adopted these numerals as Hindu-numerals, because they’d originated in India.) I believe they were so quickly adopted, especially with the invention of the printing press, because it was a lot easier to print 1634 instead of MDCXXXIV.

So if we received our numerals from Arabic, where did our letters come from?

The First English Alphabet

Well, as I said with Roman Numerals, our letters are actually from the Latin alphabet. Which is why, if you go to Rome, the letters carved into the stone on the front of the Pantheon look so familiar, even if you don’t know Latin. But that wasn’t the first alphabet that English, as a distinct language from other Germanic languages, had.

English — or I should said, Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) — was first written in a completely different alphabet. It was first written in Anglo-Saxon runes, which looked like this:

Rad, right? Not like the “r” rune called “rad” above…I mean like, rad “cool”…you get it.

Anyway, it wasn’t until Christianity came in to England, bringing the Latin alphabet along with it, that it slowly overtook. Then there was that unimportant, kind of forgettable time of the conquest of 1066, the Normans taking over with Anglo-Norman (Old French), and it disappeared all together shortly after.  We have remnants of these runes, like “wynn” which was used for the /w/ sound, which was later used with two Us (uu) in the Latin alphabet as a digraph and this is where we got “double-u” from. (A digraph is two letters together to create one sound, like (th) or (sh).

So, if we then had the Latin alphabet to write with, which was only made up of capital or majuscule letters, why do we have lower case or miniscule letters, too?

To my understanding, over time, when writing with a pen, these letters became much more round and simple. Eventually, it caught on to being normal practice as it was much easier to read words in the miniscule style. They kept important words, like nouns, with a capital, but eventually this dropped off to just proper nouns (although, in German, they still capitalize nouns) and the first letter in a sentence more recently. There’s also some debate about this, that lower-case letters might have existed alongside the original Latin alphabet with all capitals, but were never used together until later. I’m not an expert, so I literally have no idea which is true.

So…English has morphed from one set of languages, changed three times in three major ways, and even changed alphabets. No wonder it’s so difficult to spell.

Favorite Facts & Tidbits

  • I’ve never been one of those people to harp to harshly about literally being used incorrectly. I have in the passed, but I’m above that now. It’s called growth. And knowledge. Because, guess what? Like all of our language, things change and keep changing. Literally is actually a word meant to be used specifically and only when its use is pertaining to the alphabet. That’s why it has the same root as other words like letter and literature. So unless you’re literally talking about the alphabet, literally, you’re still using it wrong. So use it wrong all you like! Nothing matters! We’re all going to die and English will sound different from what it does today. It’s fine! I promise!
  • Just like the runic letter “wynn” became the W, our fun friend “thorn”, or þ, became the (th) sound for a bit. You know what blew my mind while researching for this post? The term “ye olde” is a mistake. The y was the, now unused, letter  þ, but it looked so much like a “y” in old text that it was mistaken for one. It was the. THE olde. So your bookshop, bar, or tattoo is incorrect. I, personally, think this is hilarious.
  • So a digraph is when two letters are used to make a single sound, but a ligature is the actual mushed up letters to create a single symbol, like æ. The “and” symbol, &, the ampersand, is actually a ligature of the Latin word Et, which means and.
  • And, my favorite tweet that has kept me up at night: the alphabet is in no particular order. It’s random. But we alphabetize a lot of things in that order. But it doesn’t actually mean anything. Goodnight!

Good luck sleeping after that!

So, that’s a very, very simplified, amateur explanation of why we write with our current alphabet and where it came from.  That’s all for now!

My Son, Draco

I’ve become a father. A #PlantDad to my son, Draco.

After many years of thinking about it, I finally decided to buy my first plant. I’ve wanted a house full of plants for a long time and, now, in the Year of Our Lord 2019, I have decided that I needed to begin my collection of plant children.

My first son is named Draco, short for his Latin name, Dracaena deremensis is also called a “Lemon Surprise” for reasons I am not yet sure of. What’s so lemony about the plant? Where’s the surprise??? I don’t know any of these answers. For now, he’s a good boy livening up my bedroom in a nice medium light where he’ll be happy.

I’ve named him Dracaena “Draco” Lemon Challancin. Because I’m extra af.

These are from my Instagram stories from the day I bought him:

I freaked out my cousins with the first story. I didn’t give any context.

Plants are basically easy pets. You just water them. There’s not much of a commitment after that. They brighten up the room. They make it more beautiful. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get a plant!

Anyway, I know a Hufflepuff naming a plant Draco is insanity, but it suits him and fits his scientific name. We went with it and now there’s no going back. He’s Draco. And he’s my son.

Further Learning: A History of Language – Part IV – “What’s Up With English? (II)”

Hello! Welcome to Further Learning, a little project of mine where I continue my education after school and post about what I’m learning. Right now, I’m learning about language! To start from the beginning with A History of Language – Part I, click here.

It’s time to talk more about how weird English is! And I’m not alone in thinking that it’s a nutty language. Everything I’ve read agrees. It’s nuts. Since I’ve mostly moved on from John McWhorter’s The Power of Babel, I’ve been reading from his other book Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English. Information in this post will primarily be from this source, unless otherwise stated.

What’s Up With English? (II)

As I’ve stated, English is not a neat and tidy kind of language. There are many strange words, strange rules, and far too many exceptions to those rules. It’s a mashed up, much-influenced, difficult to understand language. Even I, a native speaker of English, struggle with basic rules and the understanding of words.

I do wonder if this is a universal experience? Do others find that English is a strange, difficult language to understand or learn? Or is it a common experience to find ones own language rather difficult? I’m not sure about any of that.

But I do know that there’s one way to figure out if English really is that weird. And that’s by looking at it’s family.

And guess what? It turns out, if you look at the entire sub-family of the Indo-European languages known as the Germanic Languages…English is definitely the black sheep.

English is the Germanic Oddball

Let’s talk about the weirdo of the Germanic languages. If you look at the same sentence in several of the Germanic Languages (German, Dutch, Swedish, Icelandic, and others), they appear to be very close in structure and word similarity. The one that jumps out as different is English.

An example:

German: Wo ist meine Tochter?
Dutch: Waar is mijn dochter?
Swedish: Var är min dotter?
Icelandic: Hvar er dóttir mín?
English: Where is my daughter?

For the most part, this sentence isn’t too bad. You can see the similar words, the structure is fairly the same with all. But it’s still real evident that English is much different than the others.

Here’s another example that shows it even more:

German: Können wir etwas Gemüse kaufen?
Dutch: Kunnen we wat groenten kopen?
Swedish: Kan vi köpa några grönsaker?
Icelandic: Getum við keypt grænmeti?
English: Can we buy some vegetables?

I mean…English barely looks even similar. You can see the connections and similarities between the other languages easily, even when the structure of the sentence and the words appear switched around. But with English? They barely look related at all.

Why is English so different? In the previous post about English, I talked about the influences on English because of several factors (the Vikings invading, the French taking over, and the general Latin makeover that was given by scholars) and these are some of the main reasons English is so different.

We know these languages are all connected by tracing back to earlier language groups and finding similarities. Take the word daughter, like above. In the others, we have Tochter, dochter, dotter, and dottir, which we know came from the Proto-Germanic word, daukhtrô. These are all similar to English’s daughter. (Side note: the ‘gh’ sound was once a ‘k’ sound, which is why the word “eight” is spelled the way it is, even though it comes from the Latin octo. So with the ‘gh’ it is still similar to German’s Tochter and Dutch’s dochter, even if it’s no longer said with the same sound.)

But what about English words that are completely different from the others? Well, we have those influences to thank. For example, in German, Dutch, Swedish, and Icelandic, there’s Eingang, ingang, ingång, and innganga. In English, instead of the similar Old English ingang, we have the word entrance, from French. And because of all those influences on our language, it looks much different from its cousins.

Also, I’m sure there’s a bunch of other reasons those sentences, and the languages themselves, look so different. But those are the ones I know for sure.

So what else is English doing so different?

Well, do and -ing is what it’s doing.

English speakers use the words do and did and does a lot. And we’re kind of the only ones who use these words that regularly? To my understanding, many languages don’t even have equivalent words. We have a so many ways to say, “I didn’t write” or “I did write” or “Did you write?” But other languages don’t have the same “did” in those sentences. In French, they’re simply, J’ai écrit to mean “I wrote” instead of “I did write” (which is obviously the same meaning in English, only there isn’t a distinction between them in French) and Avez-vous écrit? means “Have you written?” instead of “did you write.” There’s no equivalent sentence of “did you write?” because they just don’t say it that way. We have two different ways of saying it, but because “do” and “did” are more of an English thing. We say it in more than one way: one is more formal, “Have you written?” and one less formal, “Did you write?”

Within the same example, English tends to use the ending –ing in the present tense. If asked what you are doing, in English you’d say, “I’m writing” but in French you’d say, J’écris which means “I write.” Of course, French has a more specific sentence if needed to say “I am currently writing” is Je suis en train d’écrire.

You know what language does like doing the whole –ing thing? Celtic languages. Do you know was spoken around the area of and islands of England? Celtic languages. Did you know that most linguists think that English just…coincidentally does the same thing? And we didn’t get it from the Celts? They believe that all the Celts were completely wiped out during the invasion and it is impossible that they influenced the language. It makes no sense, but it’s true. It makes the most sense that, as McWhorter puts it, “While the Vikings were mangling English, Welsh and Cornish people were seasoning it.”

Favorite Facts & Tidbits

  • Recently, I saw a tweet on Twitter by @JohnRossBowie that said, “People who learn English as a second language are fucking superheroes could you imagine looking at the word ‘yacht’ […] and not just giving up” which immediately made me laugh and then think, where in the hell did yacht come from? So I googled it and it turns out, it’s from the Dutch word jaghte, from jaghtschip which means “fast pirate ship” from jag(h)t meaning ‘hunting’ and schip meaning ‘ship.’ Honestly, they’re SUPERHEROES. I didn’t know that! I just accepted “yacht” as a weird ass word and moved on with my life never even thinking about it. I mean, I’m not rich, so the word yacht rarely arises in my vocab, but still.
  • Speaking of the ‘gh’ sound switching from a ‘k’ sound, have you ever wondered why the names of the months are way they are? Octo-ber should be the eighth month, but it’s the tenth. And in turn, Sept-ember, Nov-ember, and Dec-ember should be the seventh, ninth, and tenth months. Well, you can blame the Romans changing it all up and moving them down to make room for January and February, previously just “winter”, and beginning the year there instead of continuing to begin the year in March like before. Also, they changed the fifth and sixth months, Quintilis and Sixilis into July and August (named after Julius and Augustus).
  • In Old English, the word for man was guma and the word for woman was cwēn, which is where we got the word queen. Which is awesome. However, because the -n was an object ending, it often turned into guman…which isn’t the origin of the word human? At all?? Human is from homo in Latin and later humaine in French, but I AM UNCONVINCED that there wasn’t a tiny influence somewhere in England??? It’s just too close to be a coincidence??? I’ll do more research and get back to it. Probably. If I remember. It’s probably just a coincidence. But still.
  • Because of those influences from the Viking invasion, French take over, and Latin lovin’ scholars, many of the words we have have synonyms at various levels of classiness (as I said about the English-derived pig versus the French-derived pork in the previous post about English). There’s two versions of begin, the mundane “start” and “begin” from Old English and “commence” from French. We also have a triple threat from each influence in increasing levels of formality: from the Anglo-Saxon ask; the French-derived question; to the Latin interrogate. This makes a lot of sense with the above examples of “Have you written?” being more formal than “Did you write?”

Black Sheep of the Germanics to (Second) Most Spoken Language in the World

English may be the weird cousin of all the Germanic Languages, but it did become the second most spoken language in the world today. Probably for a lot of terrible reasons. I mean, definitely for a lot of terrible reasons. I think we’ll get into colonization soon.

And as always, if you know what you’re talking about (I’m doing this to learn and share, not teach — I’m an amateur here) please feel free to comment with more information or correction! So long for now!

Designing a Book Cover

Hello there! For the last few months, I’ve been setting aside some time to design book covers to add to my portfolio because it’s something I’d love to do for self-publishing authors (if you are one and would like to work together, please send a message through the contact page on my website here) because I love doing it. Most of the covers I do are of already published books, usually something I’ve read or is a favorite of mine. I redesign them for fun and to put up on my portfolio, but for this cover, I did something a little different.

This time, I first found the original stock photo while searching around on Storyblocks and wanted to build a cover around it. So, this cover is not of a real book nor is Nathan Patterson a real author. I made it all up to fit around the concept, kind of reversing what I usually do. I wanted to do more fantasy and more work with photography rather than vector art, which is what I usually do, and thought I’d share the design process for this particular cover.

First, as I said, I found the image that I wanted to work with. It’s a stock image a photographer has available on Storyblocks that immediately made the gears in my head start to turn.

There were a few things that I wanted to edit and fix of the original: the fold in the fabric close to eye needed to be smoothed, the contact lenses the girl are wearing are a bit crooked, and I wanted to smooth out the fabric in general so that it didn’t look quite so cheap-looking (this was done later, so not shown below). So those were the first steps. I achieved these tweaks in Photoshop.

Below, you’ll see that editing out the folded-up part near her eye doesn’t look perfect, which I knew would be okay because I was going to be doing more work on it.

After that, I took the photo into Lightroom just to play around with the coloring and shadows to make it look darker and less bright and green in the background (on the left). Then, I brought back into Photoshop to continue editing to smooth out her skin, darken her eye makeup, and smooth out the fabric to look less like velvet (on the right).

Once the photo was where I wanted it, I continued in Photoshop to add more effects. This included darkening more of the background to even it out, coloring her contacts to be blue, and adding this stock image texture I found, which reminds me of metallic eye shadow or something. After applying the texture over it, I erased it just around the eyes so that they would still pop and not be too covered up.

One thing that I wanted to try, was having a smoke/fire/magic-looking effect around the text of the title. After much trial and error, I was able to achieve the desired effect by removing all the black from the original smoke image in Photoshop, then digitally erasing and painting in several layers of the text in order to make it appear as though it is within the smoke, not just on top of it or behind it.

And there it be! I’m very excited with how it turned out. This was my first design using many of these techniques and the first I’ve ever done using a photo of a person, too. I pushed myself to go beyond my usual style and comfort zone, and I’m glad I did!

Here are some more covers I’ve done:

Again, if you’d like to work with me, whether it be for a cover design or something else, visit my website and use the contact page to ask any questions you’d like!

Further Learning: A History of Language – Part III – “Dialects, Pidgins, & Creoles”

Dialects, Pidgins, & Creoles

Hello! Welcome to Further Learning, a little project of mine where I continue my education outside of school and post about what I’m learning. Right now, I’m learning about language! To start from the beginning with A History of Language – Part I, click here.

Now, the topics of dialects, pidgins, and creoles are a little hard to understand, and I’m still learning about each more in depth right now, so this post is just going to cover the briefest explanations of each.

I’ve been reading primarily from John McWhorter’s The Power of Babel, but I have several books in line to learn from. Information in this post will primarily be from this source, unless otherwise stated.

What are dialects? What are pidgins? What are creoles?

Dialects

Commonly confused with a synonym for accent, dialects are actually just…different versions of the same language. For example, American English (which can be further subdivided into other dialects) and British English (which can be further subdivided) are two different languages that overlap, having both come from Modern English. We can, for the most part, understand each other. They’re both in the larger family of “English.” Another example is Italian, as there are many regions of Italy that are all different dialects of “Italian” and are not the same as the unified, more formal and official Italian that one would learn in an Italian class. But these dialects aren’t just different forms of Italian, they’re all derived from Vulgar Latin (like in an earlier post, French derived from Latin in the region of France) but all in different ways depending on the region they were in. These dialects are all part of the same family of Italian, but are different in ways that it’s possible that a person in one region of Italy could understand another person from a region close to theirs, but might not be able to understand someone from a region further away.


https://rickzullo.com/italian-dialects/

Pidgins

Not the bird. That’s pigeon. A pidgin is a simplified version of languages in order for two or more different-speaking groups can communicate on a regular basis but don’t necessarily need to fully learn each other’s language. An example of this in The Power of Babel is in the 1800s, Russians would bring timber to Norway and in order to communicate with each other, they together formed an informal language, a mix of words from each language, in order to get by. This mix was around 50/50 in words, because they had an equal position with trading and met halfway. Most pidgins are formed, however, where a dominating group’s vocabulary makes up the bulk of the words.

Creoles

A creole is basically what happens when a pidgin evolves. Like a Pokemon. It becomes not just a simplified in-between language created to be able to communicate, it becomes a complex, fully-formed language that is spoken as a native language by a group of people, often times this is the children of those who spoke the pidgin regularly. The creole with the largest number of speakers is Haitian Creole, a combination of African languages and Romance languages, specifically French.

Favorite Facts & Tidbits

  • Languages often borrow words not just from different dialects, but from different times! The Norman conquered England and brought their specific dialect of French with them. This is why, for instance, we have the word “castle” from the Norman castel, rather than the Parisian French dialect word which was chastel. We later adopted the word “chateau” which came from chastel. This also happened with Japanese borrowing from (Mandarin) Chinese, sometimes the same word at different times to after centuries of evolution, to become two different words with a similar meaning.
  • In the United States, there is influence of English on Spanish-speakers from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Often called “Spanglish,” some words are intermixed like saying brekas for “brakes” instead of the original Spanish word frenos.
  • Remember that Russian and Norwegian pidgin I mentioned earlier? Well, it’s called Russenorsk, but to its speakers, they refer to it as Moja pa tvoja, which roughly means “Me in yours.”

Again, not the bird

A quick recap! Dialects are not different accents, but small subdivisions within a main language family. Pidgins are not birds, but simple fusions of languages of two or more groups of people, used in order to communicate without having to learn each other’s whole languages. And creoles are pidgins evolved into a full-fledged, complex language and spoken by a group as their native tongue.

So! This was a very simplified, probably mostly wrong explanation of what the heck dialects, pidgins, and creoles are! Again, I’m still learning and they are very complex concepts to grasp. I mean, there’s literally like 100 pages in The Power of Babel about them alone. It’s a lot.

And of course, if you know what you’re talking about (I’m doing this to learn and share, not teach — I’m an amateur here) please feel free to comment with more information or correction! So long for now!