Picture the scene. It is about noon, and I have successfully managed to find a parking spot along the street before hoofing it a short distance to a building off of Belmont St in a quirky Portland neighborhood. Seated in a basement room in this building are a group of people, mostly male, and mostly somewhat odd in a friendly but mildly eccentric way. In the end, there are roughly half a dozen people ranging from the late twenties to middle age. There is conversation in at least two languages, the discussion of books and websites, plans made for communication and a larger community of interests, one that is not based on power and domination but one that is based on communication and more than a hint of nurturing and encouragement. There are a lot of introductions, a lot of friendly discussion, and a reminder that communication does not occur in a vacuum but takes place within a context, and that languages themselves have a certain structure and architecture about them that we are often ignorant about except if we are students of other languages.
And, to be sure, it appears that many of us are students of other languages. At least one of them has in his hands a book on conlang, the joy of creating imaginary languages and pondering over the choices that must be made in structure and grammar and vocabulary. At least another couple of people there are students enough to recognize the similarity of aggulantive languages to each other. One of the people makes a reference to another created language that he is familiar with and all participate in the thrill of decoding words based on their roots, affixes, and suffixes. Speaking personally, this has been a thrill of my own since I was a child learning Greek and Roman roots and exploring the tangled definitions of words and their origins . It is easy in such a group of people to recognize others of like kind, those who enjoy playing with a language, who enjoy the creative process of coming up with new words, or the thrill of being detectives unpacking the meaning of words through their various parts.
Besides chatting various other activities serve to pass the time. A large collection of books and magazines about a staggering array of subjects ranging from magazines in Esperanto on China to books on systems theory and international institutions grace the walls. I borrow a couple of them for reading throughout the course of the week, with the expectation that I will likely be reading more of them in the future as someone who reads books fairly quickly and returns them fairly quickly as well. In contrast to many a reader, in other words, I do not like to increase my own holdings as a book thief stealing from the libraries of others. At any rate, it simply adds to my own logistical concerns in separating out which particular collections my the books I am reading belong to so that I may return them. At times that can be a daunting task, since it is not always easy to keep straight what belongs to whom and when they need to be returned. That is the task of a reader, though, as keeping track of books is part of the price of reading many of them in the haphazard but voracious manner in which I do.
One other thing is worthy of comment. While enjoying the company of some quirky new acquaintances, we decided that we would watch the first couple of entertaining videos called Pasaporto A La Tuto Mundo (Passport To The Whole World), which consisted of episodes of roughly half an hour featuring some gloriously funny dialogue. As someone who enjoys watching silly dialogue, repeated inside jokes as well as gloriously funny cliffhangers to increase interest in the next episode, there was a lot to enjoy. Perhaps, for me, the funniest bit in the two episodes we watched was the interaction between the Kiwi shepherd and the unmarried Helena, who makes it very clear she doesn’t have a ring on her fingers and that she is open to flirtatious conversation. If only all young women were that forthright, as even an awkward person like myself when it comes to romantic matters can recognize signals that obvious. Perhaps it is easier to read the interactions of others than it is to read one’s own interactions where hopes and fears get in the way of accurate signal detection and transmission.
 See, for example: