About Me

“language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.” —  Arrival 

 

Dia dhaoibh! Hello!

Welcome to my WordPress blog, hosted by the illustrious University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I couldn’t do it without you, so thanks UMass!

Who I am:

First things first, let’s talk about me (my favorite subject). I’m currently a sophomore studying linguistics, English, and philosophy here at UMass. For my whole life, I’ve always loved language. I’ve always loved reading, writing essays, and generally poking and prodding the universe to see what the hell is going on. I think language is something that can be so easily overlooked as trivial and commonplace, but I see it as the center for all human relationships and endeavors, and that’s not trivial by any means. So that’s how I ended up here at UMass, the third highest rated linguistics program in the world, by the way. Here’s me:

Yes, that’s a map of Ireland in the background, which brings me to the next segment in my introduction.

My interests:
My general interests fall into three general categories:

1. Linguistics (foreign languages and the science of linguistics)
— The Irish language (Gaeilge): Being Irish American, Irish is fascinating to me for cultural reasons, but also for linguistic ones; I mean I can’t seriously be the only one who thinks mutations are cool, right? Indo-European language with VSO word order, VOS in copular constructions, and SOV in relative clauses… What’s not to like?

— Linguistics: The formulaic science and theory of language is what I study primarily at school, so it’s generally the subject I’ve learned the most about. Language learning is also something that I am really adept at. Here are a few facets of language that I tend to focus on. My experience in linguistics lies in phonetics and phonology. I like studying, recording, and analyzing dialects and comparing them. My thoughts on language are so immense that my writing is struggling under their weight.

— Massachusetts English: I’m from Worcester county, in Massachusetts, and part of my studies here at UMass are based in my fascination with my own family’s Yankee Speech. I intend to study the differences between western ‘Yankee speech’ (that of my native Worcester) and eastern ‘Yankee speech’ (that of Boston).

2. English (language-based art and literature, or non-fiction, all formats)

— Old English literature: Currently I am studying Old English under professor Stephen Harris, the UMass medievalist. Borrowing Seamus Heaney’s words, I have developed a fondness for the melancholy and fortitude that characterizes the poetry. I’m currently working on my own translation of the Beowulf for Stephen Harris’ class, going at the rate of about 100 lines per week.

— Translations: I do many play, poetry, and prose translations from other languages which I hope to post here. I will post only my original translation as literature, mostly so as not to break copyright laws.

— I write works of fiction, and so in order to put them somewhere public, I will use this as my primary outlet.

3. Philosophy (psychological theory, mythology, philosophy, political philosophy)

— Psychological theory/mythology: I’m starting to get into Jungian psychology. My first exposure to archetypal theory was through the Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson in reading his magnum opus, Maps of Meaning. The reason for my interest lies in my lifelong fascination with mythological stories.

— Existentialism: I’ve always sort of been an existentialist at heart, mainly because the idea of having a response to the problem of existence really resounds with me. Especially in being a Christian, the Christian Existentialists fascinated me. Kierkegaard’s writings in Fear and Trembling really hit it on the head! We must use our freedom to turn to God. What else could we turn to? I think that it is ultimately meaningless to be existentialist in an atheistic world. I have many thoughts on Christian Existentialism, and I plan on writing a lot of them down in this blog here.

 

What is this blog about anyway? 

My purpose for this blog is to share my research, academic frustrations, discoveries, theories, and explorations of the linguistic world around me. Sometimes I’ll ask questions that I will then try to answer, or use this forum as a place to ‘publish’ the research, translations, and essays I write. I have no idea if anyone will ever truly read this blog, but if you’ve found me, welcome.

 

— NS

 

Also, if you’re wondering as to why I chose this name for the blog, it comes from the last lines in a Patrick Kavanagh poem that I particularly like, “In Memory of Brother Michael” which is about the poets disapproval for those Irish who idolized the past and believed that Irishness was something to be ‘worn like a glove’  as Yeats puts it. Culture is more than an external fleshly covering; it is an innate exclusive quality that cannot be truly imitated or even consciously attained. It has its deep roots in the collective unconscious of a people-culture. I know the end stanza by heart:

“History is always something that was,
Something pedants can measure,
Skull of bard, thigh of chief,
Depth of dried-up river,
Shall we be thus forever? 
Shall we be thus forever?”

The background is the field behind the UMass Renaissance Center in mid-January.