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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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FYI: Igniting Schwa Fire, a Digital Publication about Language


Author: Michael Erard

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Sociolinguistics

FYI Body: Trained as a linguist, I've been writing stories about language, languages, and the people who use and study them for over a decade. Now I'm putting together a digital publication that will publish deep, smart narrative non-fiction about language and life. It's going to be called Schwa Fire, and there's a website at http://www.schwa-fire.com.

I'm writing to the Linguist List because there are 9 more days to the Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to launch Schwa Fire, and the campaign is far from its goal. If enough people pre-subscribe to raise
$7500 over the goal, we'll have the funds to translate one story from each of the first three issues into a language that will be decided by a translation panel. For a $25 pre-subscription, you can get onto the
translation panel (or one of the other two panels).

The link to the Kickstarter is here:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/845319788/ignite-the-schwa-fire

There's been a lot of interest in Schwa Fire: Fast Company wrote a profile about the publication; BoingBoing did a shout-out; sci-fi website io9.com included it in a crowdfunding wrap-up. Ben Zimmer of Language Log and the Wall Street Journal wrote about Schwa Fire, as did linguist and namer Nancy Friedman. Other language blogs, such as LanguageHat, Glossographia, Superlinguo, and the blog of translation company Altalang have talked about it. The Texas Observer (where I used to be a contributing writer) wrote about the project, and I went on Texas Observer Radio to talk about it. I also wrote a guest post for The Language Documentation Crowd blog.

This is the sort of thing that the linguistics community is often wishing for. Now they can help to make it happen.

Thanks for your support.

Michael Erard

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