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HBO

Pittsburgh Public Art Office Looking for Klingon, Elvish, and Dothraki Speakers

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HBO

Pittsburghers perusing the “Event Gigs” listings on Craigslist recently may have come across the following headline: “OFFICE OF PUBLIC ART SEEKS KLINGON, ELVISH, OR DOTHRAKI SPEAKER.”

“You know how you started that immersive Dothraki study program a few years ago, and everyone told you that you would never use those skills in the ‘real world’?” the post asked. “Did your Elvish study group all move away, and you’re looking for an excuse to practice? Are you the tri-state area’s leading expert in Klingon linguistics? We want you!”

The listing came from the Office of Public Art, a partnership between the city and the nonprofit Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, which works to facilitate permanent and semi-permanent public art programs. It is hoping to attract attendees to November’s Wizard World convention by offering walking tours in the fantastical languages developed for Star Trek, the Middle Earth sagas of J.R.R. Tolkien, and HBO’s Game of Thrones, and learned by some dedicated members of their fan bases.

“Every time there is a new convention in town, we try to think of how we can attract that crowd,” Kahmeela Friedson, program assistant for the Office of Public Art, tells mental_floss.

The project will pair an expert from the group with a speaker of the language for some hour-long tours that will stop by such notable Pittsburgh art standbys as Cell Phone Disco, a light screen that illuminates in response to signals from nearby mobile phones, and Katz Plaza, with its eye-shaped benches and 25-foot-tall, bronze, rock-wall-like water fountain.

There might not be exact words in the languages to describe such objects, so the speakers are encouraged to freestyle a bit. “[In Klingon], there are words for ‘tractor beam’ but not a lot for art,” says Friedson.

So far, the group has received four applications, two from Klingon linguists and two from Dothraki speakers.

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From Snoopy to Shark Bait: The Top Slang Word in Each State
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iStock

There’s a minute, and then there’s a hot minute. Defined as “a longish amount of time,” this unit of time is familiar to Alabamians but may stir up confusion beyond the state’s borders.

It’s Louisianans, though, who feel the “most misunderstood,” according to the results of a survey regarding regional slang by PlayNJ. Of the Louisiana residents surveyed, 72 percent said their fellow Americans from other states—even neighboring ones—have a hard time grasping their lingo. Some learned the hard way that ordering a burger “dressed” (with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo) isn’t universally understood, nor is the phrase “to pass a good time” (instead of “to have” a good time).

After surveying 2000 people (with proportional numbers from each state), PlayNJ created a map showing the top slang word in each state. Many are words that are unlikely to be understood beyond state lines, but others—like California’s bomb (something you really like) and New York’s deadass (to be completely serious)—have spread well beyond their respective borders thanks to memes and internet culture.

Hawaiians are also known for their distinctive slang words, with 71 percent reporting that words like shaka (hello) and poho (waste of time) are frequently misunderstood. Shark bait, one of the state’s more colorful terms, refers to tourists who are so pale that they attract sharks.

Check out the full list below and test your knowledge of regional slang words with PlayNJ’s online quiz.

A chart showing the top slang words in each state
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New 'Eye Language' Lets Paralyzed People Communicate More Easily
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // ;CC BY-SA 4.0

The invention of sign language proved you don't need to vocalize to use complex language face to face. Now, a group of designers has shown that you don't even need control of your hands: Their new type of language for paralyzed people relies entirely on the eyes.

As AdAge reports, "Blink to Speak" was created by the design agency TBWA/India for the NeuroGen Brain & Spine Institute and the Asha Ek Hope Foundation. The language takes advantage of one of the few motor functions many paralyzed people have at their disposal: eye movement. Designers had a limited number of moves to work with—looking up, down, left, or right; closing one or both eyes—but they figured out how to use these building blocks to create a sophisticated way to get information across. The final product consists of eight alphabets and messages like "get doctor" and "entertainment" meant to facilitate communication between patients and caregivers.

Inside of a language book.
Sagar.jadhav01, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

This isn't the only tool that allows paralyzed people to "speak" through facial movements, but unlike most other options currently available, Blink to Speak doesn't require any expensive technology. The project's potential impact on the lives of people with paralysis earned it the Health Grand Prix for Good at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity earlier in June.

The groups behind Blink to Speak have produced thousands of print copies of the language guide and have made it available online as an ebook. To learn the language yourself or share it with someone you know, you can download it for free here.

[h/t AdAge]

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