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Cambridge language conference marks Game of Thrones lingo

The brains behind some of science fiction’s most popular invented languages are gathering for a conference to showcase their skills.

The San Diego-based Language Creation Society has brought together “conlangers” – or people who “construct” languages – in Cambridge.

Among the languges represented is Dothraki, as used in Game of Thrones.

UK organiser Dr Bettina Beinhoff said the convention would enhance the network of language creators worldwide.

The society – which has 185 members in 27 countries – was created in 2007 to “promote the art, craft and science of language creation”.

It came to recent prominence after the producers of Game of Thrones got in touch to find a language creator to develop Dothraki, from the few words and phrases in the original books by George RR Martin.

Linguist David J Peterson, a member of the society, was then chosen to devise an entire language for the series.

Dr Beinhoff, of the Anglia Ruskin centre for Intercultural and Multilingual Studies, said most conlangers derived inspiration from Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, who developed languages for much of his work.

“For many language creators, Tolkien was the starting point, many want to recreate his sense of aesthetics,” she said.

“I hope the conference will inspire conlangers to learn from each other, as well as get ideas and solutions to any dilemmas they face.”

Other constructed languages, such as Klingon, from Star Trek, have developed their own cultural appeal.

Esperanto, invented in the late 19th Century as a “universal second language to foster peace and international understanding”, is spoken by about two million speakers worldwide, according to language database Ethnologue.

Society president Joseph Windsor, said: “When you hear Klingons speaking Klingon, or the Dothraki speaking Dothraki, it adds a sense of believability to a fictional world.

“I’ve heard from different conlangers who engage with the craft as catharsis after a stressful day, or who use their languages to be able to keep a completely private journal.

“You can’t Google Translate a conlang that no-one else knows.”

Dr Oliver Mayeux, who has a PhD in linguistics from Cambridge University, said building a language from scratch is an “incredibly personal thing”.

“It’s like poetry or painting – people who do it have a natural expressiveness and admiration for language,” he said.

“We don’t do it for fame or notoriety, we’re a rather eccentric tribe of language nerds, coming together to discuss their creations.”

Mark Rylance resigns from RSC over BP sponsorship

Actor Mark Rylance has resigned from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) over its sponsorship deal with oil company BP.

Rylance, in a resignation letter, said he was quitting to “lend strength” to progressive voices in the RSC.

The RSC said it is “saddened” by Rylance’s departure but that corporate sponsorship is “an important part” of its funding.

In 2016, he said he was likely to quit unless the RSC dropped its ties to BP.

The oil company declined to comment on Rylance’s personal choice, but said it remains committed to sustainable energy solutions and is “proud” of its partnership with RSC, held since 2011.

This includes funding a £5 ticket scheme for 16-25 year olds, with around 10,000 tickets being sold through the initiative each year.

Rylance, an Oscar-winner and associate artist with the RSC for 30 years, has been a longstanding critic of the sponsorship agreement.

In 2012, he signed a petition stating BP’s sponsorship deal allowed the company to “obscure the destructive reality of its activities” which he said threatened the future of the planet.

“Half the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere currently warming our planet have been emitted in the last 30 years,” he wrote in today’s resignation letter.

“BP has made the third-biggest contribution to climate change of any private company in history.

“I do not wish to be associated with BP any more than I would with an arms dealer, a tobacco salesman or anyone who wilfully destroys the lives of others alive and unborn. Nor, I believe, would William Shakespeare,” he added.

Rylance last appeared on stage for the RSC in Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet in 1989.

Bruce Springsteen beats Madonna to top UK album chart

Bruce Springsteen has beaten fellow US music veteran Madonna to top the UK album chart with his latest release.

Western Stars – The Boss’s 19th studio album – racked up 25,000 more combined sales than Madge’s Madame X, which had to settle for second place.

The two new entries saw last week’s chart-topper, Lewis Capaldi’s debut album, knocked down to three.

In the singles chart, Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s I Don’t Care held onto the top spot for a sixth straight week.

Taylor Swift claimed the week’s highest new entry with You Need To Calm Down, which entered the chart at number five.

Little Mix have the only other new entry in this week’s Top 10 with Bounce Back, the girl group’s first release since leaving Simon Cowell’s Syco record label.

The song incorporates elements from Back to Life, a chart-topper for Soul II Soul in 1989.

Western Stars – Springsteen’s first album of new material since 2012 – is now the 69-year-old’s 11th UK chart-topper.

That’s one less than Madonna has achieved over a 35-year career that has seen her notch up the most UK number one albums by a female artist.

The promotion trail for Madame X has taken the 60-year-old singer from the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas to the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv.

Madonna’s last studio album, 2015’s Rebel Heart, also made its UK debut at two on its first week on sale.

British four-piece Bastille were another top five new entry with their third studio album Doom Days, which entered the chart at four.

That was one space ahead of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, the 40th anniversary reissue of which saw it attain a Top 40 placing for the first time since its 1979 debut.

Cardi B charged with strip club assault

US rapper Cardi B has been formally charged with assault, relating to a fight at a New York City strip club.

The former stripper, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, had previously faced misdemeanour charges over the incident at Angels NYC in Queens in August.

She was arrested in October for allegedly ordering an attack on two bartenders named as Jade and Baddie G.

TMZ reports the incident was allegedly triggered after she accused Jade of sleeping with her husband Offset.

The women claim they were injured during the brawl when Cardi’s people began throwing bottles and chairs.

On Friday, a jury indicted the 26-year-old star on 14 charges, including two counts of assault with intent to cause serious physical injury.

In April, Cardi B rejected a plea deal from the Queens district attorney’s office which would have seen her given a conditional discharge, escaping a prison sentence unless she committed a further offense.

The controversial musician burst on to the scene in 2017 with breakout single Bodak Yellow, which saw her become the first solo female rapper in nearly 20 years – since Lauryn Hill – to top the US single charts.

Her subsequent debut LP, Invasion Of Privacy, then made her the first solo female artist to win best rap album at this year’s Grammys.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for 25 June in Queens Criminal Court, New York.

Good Omens: Christian group petition Netflix over Amazon show

A US Christian group calling for the cancellation of Amazon’s Good Omens have been lampooned after mistakenly sending a 20,000-strong protest petition to Netflix.

The Return to Order sect argue the show, about a demon and angel uniting to stop Armageddon, normalises Satanism and “mocks God’s wisdom”.

Netflix responded in jest with a “promise” to halt production.

Amazon playfully said they would cancel Netflix hit Stranger Things in return.

The six-part series is based upon the 1990 novel written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – who also wrote the screenplay and worked as a showrunner on the series.

The adaptation, fulfils, according to Gaiman, one of Pratchett’s last requests, prior to his death in 2015.

It stars David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale, who must both work together to overcome humanity’s divisions.

But a campaign by religious group Return to Order calls for the “blasphemous” show to be pulled “at once”.

The petition, promoted in a Facebook post since May 13, also expresses concern that:

  • God is “voiced by a woman” – two-time Oscar-winner Frances McDormand
  • The antichrist is “portrayed as a normal kid that has special powers”
  • The “four riders of the Apocalypse, God’s means of punishing sinful earth, are portrayed as a group of bikers.”

However, the group – inspired by the writings of biblical scholar John Horvat II – have undermined the support of 20,000 signatories by addressing it to Netflix.

The blunder over the show, in fact an Amazon and BBC co-production, has gone viral on social media since Thursday.

“Get your research right before making petition …I love the Lord and fully agree on your point but have your ducks in a row before you accuse and start division where it shouldn’t be,” wrote one follower in frustration.

Gaiman responded to the petition on Twitter, writing: “I love that they are going to write to Netflix to try and get #GoodOmens cancelled. Says it all really. This is so beautiful … Promise me you won’t tell them?”

The user who directed Gaiman to the petition joked: “I think Mr. Gaiman and Mr. Pratchett would be very pleased with this complaint.”

Danny Boyle rules out more Trainspotting films 'at the moment'

Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle has ruled out a third instalment of the Trainspotting films “at the moment”.

The original 1996 movie, based on Edinburgh author Irvine Welsh’s novel, was followed up by a sequel in 2017.

At the Scottish premiere of his new movie Yesterday, Boyle said he was not thinking of reuniting Renton, Begbie and Spud for a third film.

He told BBC Scotland’s The Nine there would need to be a good reason to return to the characters again.

The 2017 sequel came more than 20 years after the original black comedy drama about a group of heroin addicts in Edinburgh became a huge hit.

Its stars Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner and Jonny Lee Miller were reunited for a film that looked at what had happened to them in the intervening decades.

Boyle said he did not want to make a third film which would be “just treading water”.

“You need to make it about something and obviously in the case of the second one it was about their ages – what had happened to them in their lives or not happened to them.”

Asked if he thought the Trainspotting films had gone as far as they could he said: “At the moment.”

Boyle has previously suggested it would be an idea to have “solo” spin-off Trainspotting films based on characters such as Begbie, who Welsh wrote about in the novel The Blade Artist.

However, the director did not say he was planning to make the movies.

The 62-year-old director, who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, made his feature film debut in 1994 with Shallow Grave, which was set in Edinburgh.

He followed this up with Trainspotting, which was also set in the Scottish capital.

Appearing at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Boyle said: “It is nice to be back and I am very indebted to the city, for my career and for some of the glorious times we had here.

“I’d certainly return. I’m not quite sure for what film yet but if there was ever a chance of filming here again I wouldn’t hesitate.”