Diego Marani has written a novel which has the last speaker of a language as a key character. Vostyach is a Finno-Ugric language, believed to have vanished, until a Russian linguist finds a last speaker who has grown up in the gulag. Unfortunately, she reveals her discovery to an unscrupulous Finnish linguist whose cherished hypotheses about the linguistic history of Europe are threatened by this new data.
How far he is prepared to go to defend his theories, and what happens to these various characters, you can find out by reading the novel (no spoilers!) – but I will say that the last of the Vostyachs himself ends up not too badly and his language is being heard by many people (at least in some form) by the close of the book.
Marani does not really use linguistics a great deal in this novel – there is some rather dodgy phonetics in there, and he doesn’t go into any detail about either historical linguistics or language endangerment. It isn’t great literature either (I read it on an international flight, and that seemed about right) but it is all highly entertaining.
Monash Authors in Conversation: Dr Meredith Fletcher
The University Library, along with Monash University Publishing, are planning to strengthen campus life through…
Apply now for Oxfam-Monash Innovators!
The Oxfam-Monash Partnership is excited to announce that applications have now opened for the 2014 Oxfam-Monash…
Glimpses of Indigenous empowerment emerge from archives
European colonisation is portrayed mostly as an era of brutal subjugation of Indigenous peoples, but…
Amphlett Lane puts rock legacy back on the map, literally
by Catherine Strong When Chrissy Amphlett, lead singer of the iconic Australian rock group The…
Applications now open for the South Africa Student Placement Program
The Oxfam-Monash Partnership is excited to announce that applications are now open for the 2015…
Monash grad takes on youth issues at the United Nations
Laura John, a 2013 Law/Arts graduate from Monash University, was appointed as the Australian Youth…
In Conversation with singer-songwriter Mark Seymour
At the Melbourne Writers’ Festival this week, a panel of poets, writers and performers will…
Monash becomes WHO Collaborating Centre for Bioethics
Monash University’s Centre for Human Bioethics will play a key role in how the world responds to…
Take time out to to hear Monash authors in conversation
It is scarcely possible to pass an hour in honest conversation, without being able, when…
The truth about meat and three veg
Food memory can be a shifty beast, often determined by our own experiences in adult…
Transcending testimony: an interview with filmmaker Deepa Dhanraj
by Shweta Kishore Deepa Dhanraj is a filmmaker and feminist whose extensive filmography spans issues of…
New Colombo Plan Scholarships – Explore Indonesia this Summer!
The Faculty of Arts is excited to announce that it has been awarded 30 scholarships for its…