Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Oh, for a Translator . . .

When I was home yesterday, the extraordinary noises the California sea lions were making out in our bay lured me outside with my little camera to try to capture the soundscape. The visual quality of the video is not great, but listen to the astonishing conversation these fellows have:

I'm back at work today, talking with my upper-level students this morning about Monkey Beach, the powerful West Coast novel by Haisla-Heiltsuk author Eden Robinson. I've read this book 6 or 7 times over the 15 years since it was published, taught it almost as many times, and I still get caught up in it, make new discoveries about its construction, and revel in the way it captures the north coast. It's a darkly gothic book, but engagingly so -- hilariously, as well, in many spots. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it, if only for the pleasure of meeting one of the feistiest young protagonists you'll bump into. And her marvelous, equally feisty, Ma-ma-oo (Grandma).

And as I hit Publish here, at 6:11, I hear the day's first bark from one of my sea lion visitors. . . . He's wishing you all a good day. I'm just translating. . . .

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the book recommendation. The barking of sea lions has become so familiar to we on the West Coast, hasn't it!

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  2. It has become very familiar -- but these fellows were making a range of sounds that I've not heard before. Some throat-singing and rhythmic stuff going on!

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  3. I'm glad you're feeling better, Frances! Thank you for the sea lion audio - my son is an animal rights person, very into ethics, and it is astounding how much is known about animal sentience, communication, emotions, etc.

    Here on the east coast, we've just been through "the storm of the century" - fortunately, it turned into an ordinary winter snowstorm - only about 1 foot of snow and no "thundersnow" - and no one around here has lost power.

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    1. I'd love to know what these guys were doing -- I suspect someone has studied their sounds.
      I was glad to see that your storm didn't live up to the expectations. Stay warm!

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  4. Fantastic video! They sound like me yawning when I get up in the morning, especially that low-growling fellow. Thanks for that.

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  5. Thank you for the book recommendation, and the wonderful sound of the sea lions' conversation.

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    1. Aren't they great, Mardel? If you do read Monkey Beach, I'd love to know what you think. I keep meaning to comment on your book list, actually, but just haven't mustered the words yet. . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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