With a focus on languages, semiotics and linguistic structures, LINGUA is a series of zines that visualize and write about linguistic data, namely, phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax and pragmatics.
The Phonology zine aims to create a sign system that visualizes some examples of contrastive sounds that make minimal pairs in English. The sign system is then applied to another language I am learning – Japanese. By examining minimal pairs in English, an English speaker may be able to use this system to decode the pronunciations of some Japanese words.
The Morphology zine uses the example of receipts to visually define “morpheme”, which is the smallest linguistic unit that carries meaning. One or more morphemes can form a word. Similar to the structure of a word, a receipt is a collection of one or multiple smallest actions or objects, and combining several small transactions together amounts to a social scenario that tells a narrative.
The Semantics zine addresses the lexical gap between English and Chinese. Lexical gap is when there isn’t a word for something in a language. Sometimes words don’t exist in a language because they are specific to another culture, and there isn’t as much need for these words in a certain language. A native speaker of one language may not find it troublesome, as s/he rarely attempts to address things that are not in the lexicon. A multilingual speaker, however, may finds the missing of certain words results in some sort of confusion. We encounter lexical gaps whenever there is a need to translate a language to another. When we can’t find a word in the target language, we might use a longer phrase to describe it. In this publication, I try to address the lexical gap between English and Chinese. While lexical gap might be a purely linguistic concept, it’s undoubtedly influenced by cultures.
On the personal level, I see myself residing in this lexical gap. The moments I blank out, I stumble over words, I mispronounce something, I make syntactic errors, I get lost in translation, I feel culturally disconnected...I am very much living in the gap in between cultures and languages.
And the Syntax zine illustrates a diagram to define grammatical nonsense. Syntax is the component of grammar that deals with how words and phrases are combined into larger phrases. Although it’s important to be grammartically correct to precisely convey meanings, we are able to understand many ungrammatical sentences as well. Meanwhile, it’s also possible that a sentence is completely grammatical while being meaningless.