“Every Day, Another Language Dies”

I have a variety of concerns and dubiousnesses about Heather Altfeld’s essay “Every Day, Another Language Dies,” published at Lit Hub in May. (Originally published in Conjunctions 70, under the title “Obituary for Dead Languages.”)

But I nonetheless found it a poetically lovely and sad eulogy for languages lost and languages we’re losing, so I thought it was worth linking to.

(On a side note, I see that “Every day, another language dies” is nicely iambic; would make a good first line of a sonnet.)

4 Responses to ““Every Day, Another Language Dies””

  1. Frederic Bush

    Those are trochees —they start with a stressed syllable, while iambs start with an unstressed syllable. Plus it is a syllable short for pentameter.

    • -Ed.

      One could solve that with the introduction of an unstressed syllable at the start of the line. “O Every Day Another Language Dies”… “if every day another language dies”… “Hwæt: Every Day Another Language Dies”…

      Or, alternately, just use the thing as is, and in four hundred years it will be used as evidence that the word ‘every’ was once commonly spoken with three syllables and the accent on the middle one.


      • Frederic Bush

        How about ? I am pretty confident that’s unstressed (though perhaps the speaker is not) and I think it’s probably one syllable.

        I considered , but that is stressed, and is more than one syllable for sure.

      • Frederic Bush

        Ha! The missing terms are (rueful sigh), (exasperated sigh), and (melancholy sigh). I made the mistake of putting them in .


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