And some of us want to know what it’s like over there! The NYT Magazine brings us a feature about traveling to Cuba from a writer who married into a Cuban family. Worth a read, because it ain’t easy to get there:
Because my wife and her family have living relatives in Cuba, they can get a humanitarian exception that lets you fly direct from Miami. The legal loopholes combining to make that possible must fill hard drives. But you can in fact go that way, if you obtain one of these exceptions or are immediate family with someone who does…But the airport bureaucracy in Miami was so heavy, at least back then, you had to show up the night before and stay in an airport hotel so you could wake up early and spend the day in a series of bewildering lines, getting things signed or stamped.”
It seems the Pope and the Vatican are attempting to put Latin back into the curriculum by establishing a new Papal Latin Academy to facilitate the teaching of Latin globally.
The NYT blog, Rendezvous, adorably points out: “Aspirational parents are these days more likely to want their offspring to speak Mandarin or Arabic. Knowledge of English, the modern lingua franca, is the sine qua non of survival in the global economy.”
Therefore it seems a total non sequitur that we should spend our days learning Latin, doesn’t it?
Linguists at the University of Auckland have traced back the roots of the Indo-European branch of languages to the time and place of origin.
Time? During the agricultural expansion, about 8500-9000 years ago.
Place? A steppe region in present-day Turkey.
How’d they figure it out? By quite literally just walking back in time with words:
The researchers started with a menu of vocabulary items that are known to be resistant to linguistic change, like pronouns, parts of the body and family relations, and compared them with the inferred ancestral word in proto-Indo-European. Words that have a clear line of descent from the same ancestral word are known as cognates. Thus “mother,” “mutter” (German), “mat’ ” (Russian), “madar” (Persian), “matka” (Polish) and “mater” (Latin) are all cognates derived from the proto-Indo-European word “mehter.”
That is fascinating.