Why Language Preservation Matters: Success Is Not Merit

As you may know, the documentation of endangered languages is one of my passions. Since this is not the most common pursuit, I occasionally have to explain to people why anyone should care; thus, when my brain is idle, I sometimes work on arranging my views into clearer explanations.

In a bout of insomnia last night, I decided to scribble out a response to one particular class of claims I’ve heard before, which disputes the value of language preservation. My response is very much tongue-in-cheek, but perhaps it will prove enlightening. (It contains liberal use of the word “asshole,” but rest assured that I use it purely in an academic sense.)

Why Language Preservation Matters, Part 1:
Language Dominance Depends More on Assholery than Superiority

The Allegations:

  • “Well, the best and most useful language will win. No need to go interfering with the natural order of things.”
  • “But it’s not your place to decide which languages should survive.”
  • “Look at how many people speak English. That must mean it’s an innately superior language!”

The Response:
Imagine a small group of people living in a wooded area; we’ll call them Original Group, because we are creative at naming things. Read More

The Six Steps of Writing a Cover Letter

These past few months, I have been pawing around for job and schooling options that are palatable to a creature like me. Inevitably, this process has thrown me up against my ancient nemesis, the cover letter. It seems strange to have such enormously clashing feelings about a rather homogeneous type of writing, but somehow cover letters manage to fill me with terror, bafflement, and satisfaction, all at once.

I thought that you, my abundant readers, might also have trouble with this fiddly art form, and so I have prepared a very serious guide to the cover letter writing process. I hope you find it useful.

Hermitina’s Guide to Writing a Cover Letter, in Six Steps

(If you were familiar with the company prior to applying, skip Step 1.)

1. Familiarization. Before writing a single word of your cover letter, it is vital to have a solid understanding of the company’s history and philosophy. Check if they have a website; if so, read over their entire website while nodding sagely. Then, see if Wikipedia has a page about them, before resorting to desperate Google searches like “most important things about McSpove Bros. Jellyfish Emporium.” For bonus points, figure out what “synergy” means.

2. Connection. Since you know all about the company, it should be easy to communicate why you and it are an ideal match, right? Of course! Read More