Entertainment

People Are Choosing To Learn High Valyrian On Duolingo While Other Languages Are Dying

Popular language app Duolingo offers language learning lessons in dozens of languages for dozens of languages. In English, the app offers 32 different language lessons, two of which are entirely fictional–Klingon (the language from “Star Trek”) and High Valyrian (a fictional language from “Game of Thrones”).

Of the many languages offered, Duolingo has yet to include Arabic, the fifth most spoken language in the world, among several others. In light of this information blowing up, Twitter users are sharing their feelings on the folks who are choosing to spend their time learning High Valyrian instead of spoken languages.

We had to download the app to see it for ourselves.

Duo Lingo

Yep. It’s real. It’s really there. So many people are stoked. It makes sense but there are so many languages that are real that make more sense to learn. Spanish, for example, which can be used in real situations.

The thought of being able to converse with their favorite GoT characters is thrilling to some.

@GabbyDabbyDoo / Twitter

So thrilling, that they are spending their time actually learning the language, created by David J. Petterson. He collaborated closely with Duolingo to get it off the ground and now here we are.

The language is without a doubt foreign to almost every human on earth.

Duo Lingo

It’s certainly challenging to get the hang of and to be honest, we didn’t get very far in our efforts to learn it.

FOX News even reported on the Duolingo offering, which led people to wonder.

@noelguwop / Twitter

Are people really going to spend their time learning a fictional language only spoken on television? Why would Duolingo spend time developing this learning tool for High Valyrian instead of Arabic or Farsi?

The predictions are true. People are putting more effort into speaking High Valyrian than learning Spanish.

@HossensTweets / Twitter

This is not an isolated incident. We’re seeing the excitement for High Valyrian over Spanish all over Twitter.

We’re waiting for the psychologists to chime in on why this phenomenon is happening.

@treatyobrain / Twitter

The thrill of speaking to millions of people seems to be less than the thrill of vaguely understanding a television language without subtitles.

Hundreds of thousands of people are reportedly learning High Valyrian on Duolingo.

@LathamVH / Twitter

We’re waiting… Real talk: there is no use for learning High Valyrian.

Meanwhile, Mandarin and Spanish, the top two most spoken languages in the world are seemingly less useful to learn for High Valyrian learners.

@ImperialsSay / Twitter

“Game of Thrones” may be a huge cultural phenomenon in this moment, but Spanish is the future, especially in the United States.

Plus, “Game of Thrones” is about to be over in less than a week.

@TheAngelBaby99 / Twitter

After which, there will be no new content surrounding this fictional language. That’s it.

We applaud everyone who is committed to learning a language that opens relationships with actual human beings. ????????????

@LizSlaiborne / Twitter

What do you think about Duolingo’s choice to teach its users High Valyrian? Fun and games or a little problematic? Comment below!

READ: An Artist From Texas Turned ‘Game Of Thrones’ Characters Into Aztec Art And It’s More Lit Than Our Fuming Mad Queen

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Nathalie Emmanuel’s Story Of How Emilia Clarke Defended Her Against A Male Costar On The “Game Of Thrones” Set Is Girl Power

Fierce

Nathalie Emmanuel’s Story Of How Emilia Clarke Defended Her Against A Male Costar On The “Game Of Thrones” Set Is Girl Power

Emma McIntyre / Getty

There’s no denying that “Game of Thrones” actress Nathalie Emmanuel is beloved by her fans.

As you might remember, those exact fans rallied behind her just a year ago when the series killed off her character Missandei in the final season. At the time, Missandei (who had come so far from her days as a slave in the series) saw her end when she was put back in chains and had her head chopped off. The death sparked a backlash that lambasted the series for maintaining its racial blind spots and doing Emmanuel’s character dirty. At the time, even Emmanuel’s co-star Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) reacted poorly to the death. Clarke who had previously admitted to having a close friendship with Emmanuel told Entertainment Weekly that she was shocked “because it comes out of f—king nowhere… I’m flabbergasted. Absolutely never saw that coming.”

So it’s no surprise that when speaking with British Vogue in a recent interview, Emmanuel shared an empowering anecdote that happened between her and Clarke.

Speaking about her experiences making the HBO hit, Emmanuel recalled an instance when Clarke defended her after a male colleague commented on her “revealing” costume.

“In my first season, my costume was pretty revealing and there was an incident with a supporting actor who made a comment about it on set,” she told British Vogue. “I mean, typical — and Emilia straightaway had my back. It got handled.”

Emmanuel went onto add that she instantly connected with Clarke on the “male-dominated set” when she came on in its third season.

“Emilia and I got on like a house on fire from the beginning,” she continued. “When I joined the cast, she had already been shooting ‘Game of Thrones’ for a few years, and she was definitely ready to have some female energy around her. She and I always looked out for each other… If you’re the only girls on a male-dominated set, it bonds you in a certain way.”

In a separate interview in 2019, Emmanuel described her relationship with Clarke as one filled with learning and love.

“Emilia, as a friend and colleague, is just such a joy,” Emmanuel said during the interview. “I really have thoroughly loved working with her. I loved learning from her. And we just check in with each other every so often.”

“She’s such a beast. As a woman, she really picks herself up and keeps going,” she added. “She’s really inspiring, I’m so proud of her.”

Speaking about the death of her GOT character, Emmanuel, who now stars in “Four Weddings and Funeral,” said fan reactions to her character’s death was important to her.

“It definitely caused me to reflect a lot more — about race and diversity more generally,” Emmanuel explained. “At the end of the day, if there’s ever a show on the level of ‘Game of Thrones’ again, representation has to be part of the conversation from the beginning. That way, there’s no single person who has to represent every other person of color.”

Speaking about being a character of color, Emmanuel said that “It’s a conversation I used to have a lot with Jacob [Anderson], who played Grey Worm, the only other major non-white character in the series. We were always really conscious of how much our being part of ‘Game of Thrones’ mattered to people. It made us really protective of Missandei and Grey Worm.”

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Mexico Just Announced It Will Offer Legal Representation In More Than 100 Indigenous Languages And It’s A Huge Victory

Culture

Mexico Just Announced It Will Offer Legal Representation In More Than 100 Indigenous Languages And It’s A Huge Victory

LandPortal / Instagram

Let’s finish this convoluted year with a piece of information that gives us at least a bit of optimism shall we?

The Mexican government, led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has gotten many things wrong according to its critics. However, one area in which it has delivered on its promises is on a different, more inclusive approach to indigenous communities that recognizes the centuries-long dispossession of which they have been subject. Plus, the fact that their culture has been crushed by the weight of mestizo, monolingual social structures.

States such as Yucatan are making good progress by, for example, making Mayan language compulsory in schools, which is a recognition that the original owners of a land that was never ceded still comprise an important part of the state’s identity. 

Even though since colonial times Spanish became the official language of what is now the Mexican territory, the country houses hundreds of indigenous languages and dialects.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

People who speak indigenous languages in addition to Spanish should be celebrated! After all, how many of us can claim to be fully bilingual? But this is not the case. As Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma showed, languages like mixteco and zapoteco, which originated in Oaxaca, are looked down upon by the white and mestizo elites.

This is a form or racism that not only embodies a form of self-hatred (most Mexicans have European and indigenous blood) but also plants the seeds of marginalization. The fact that indigenous languages are looked down upon does not only involve issues of cultural identity, but increases the social divide in more areas. 

But Mexican society experiences an endemic racism that basically punishes those who speak their mother tongue.

Credit: The Yucatan Times

Up to one million Mexicans speak only an indigenous language and even though many more are functional in Spanish, not being fully fluent causes socioeconomic gaps to be further exacerbated in a country defined by inequality.

For example, the job market for people with indigenous languages as a first tongue is limited, particularly in professional sectors. Spanish is the lingua franca and this means that those who do not master it are at a disadvantage. What is even worse, indigenous populations have historically been subject to abuse by the judicial system. If they are not fluent in Spanish, the accused are likely to be convicted as legal representation is compromised by miscommunication or totally non-existent. 

AMLO started his presidency with huge expectations on what he would do for Indigenous Mexicans.

When AMLO took power there was skepticism about how much he would do for indigenous populations after so many campaign promises.

As USN argued back then: “The plight of Mexico’s more than 12 million indigenous people, who often face inequality, injustice and persecution, has been thrown in the spotlight by the election of leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in July. Lopez Obrador, who campaigned on a platform of “first the poor,” has held ceremonies with indigenous leaders and vowed to bring meaningful change to these impoverished rural communities. But as the President turns his focus to major infrastructure projects, there are fears that all the rituals and rhetoric may end in broken promises once again.”

However, there are positive signs that lead us to believe that this sexenio (how a Mexican presidency is known, as it lasts for six years) will be different.

Now the government is providing legal representation in 103 indigenous languages, and this is a great step towards reconciliation.

Credit: South World

The Instituto Federal de Defensoría Pública (IFDP; Federal Institute for Public Defense) has significantly increased the number of indigenous languages in which it can offer legal advise and defense. The number has increased from 39 to 103, which is a huge step towards fairer trials for indigenous individuals.

Among the languages that are included in the list we can find maya, mixe, mixteco, mazateco, náhuatl, otomí, purépecha, tarahumara, huasteco, huichol, tepehuano, totonaco, triqui, tzeltal, yaqui, amuzgo, chatino, chinanteco, chol, chontal, cora, cuicateco, zapoteco and zoque. The states with the largest concentration of these languages are Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Nayarit, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Sonora, Sinaloa, Querétaro, Estado de México, Chihuahua, Michoacán, Durango  and Puebla.

The service is therefore not concentrated in a single region, as is the case with several federal programs, but is spread out across Mexico’s geography. Added to this, the number of staff who is fluent in indigenous tongues was increased almost twofold, from 51 to 90. This legal personnel is comprised of lawyers who grew up with an indigenous tongue and understanding the indigenous worldview, which makes them a great asset during trials. Further, they have been granted permission to act as interpreters if there are no other speakers available. 

The goal, however, is to reach the 364 languages spoken in Mexico.

Credit: Mexico Desconocido

According to government officials the new appointments are only the first step and the final objective is to cover all the languages spoken in Mexico. 

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