Sunday, November 14, 2010

Akheeran!

There is a museum I visited in baladelba7th in 2001, the very first time I came here.  I have been back to baladelba7th nearly every year since then, for visiting/study/research purposes, but this museum has been closed.  It's promised to open for the last few years, but never did. In September, the rumors were that it would open any day.  About two weeks ago, it finally did.  Today, I actually made it to the museum--it felt like quite the accomplishment!

The renovations are definitely an improvement over my fading memories of dark, dusty rooms and a worker following me around to turn on the lights in each room as I entered. As is the case with most museums in baladelba7th, the contents remain magnificent.

However, what I noticed the most, particularly in light of my last post, was the signage. There are large signs giving a general overview, which are trilingual (English, loghatelba7th and a once widespread European language of waning international use). Then there are the signs for the individual items, which are in English and loghatelba7th. Some items have an additional paragraph of explanation, which is only in loghatelba7th.

As is also generally the case in baladelba7th, museum labels are of little use in understanding the wonder you're looking at, so I at first turned to these explanations for assistance.  While I thought it was odd that they were only in loghatelba7th, I was also pleased, as why shouldn't it be?  After reading a few, I wasn't so sure.  They were not explanations that were useful to me (or to any non-specialist), but mostly lists of references to names and places I didn't know, but I suspect a specialist or someone more generally knowledgeable about the contents of this museum and their history would. These people would necessarily know loghatelba7th (or they really, really, should), so maybe these explanations are just giving more context for them, and not translated because they are not useful for laypeople.  I didn't read all of them, so I don't know for sure.

But, my overly analytic mind suggests there are other things may be at work here.  The contents of this museum share a particular association with loghatelba7th.  I've noticed a disturbing trend to associate loghatelba7th, and in particular this form of it, with this association, and particularly with strong forms of it.  This in itself is fine.  What bothers me is what I see as the increasing exclusivity of this association, as if this part of loghatelba7th is only for this part of society, and indexes it, while English increasingly indexes the "opposing" part.  Usually, there are good/bad judgements that also come into play here.  Language use is a highly relevant identity indexer, but one that is not critically examined by the majority of users, particularly in terms of the implications of this indexing beyond I am a member of such and such a group, which is the cool one.  It is not the only indexer of this split by any means, but it is an important one.

Because I have lots of unscheduled time, I think about such matters obsessively.  And try to free myself of them by writing about them on this blog because really, they are not that relevant to my research or my life.

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