Compass Inn fireside chats will explore “Stories and Mysteries of Language”

If you’ve wondered if a crayfish is a fish or who put the “nickname” in a nickname, the Société historique de la vallée de Ligonier thought of you when planning its four-part show series on the “History and Mysteries of Language”.

The series of informal fireside sessions will take place from 2-4 p.m. every other Thursday, starting this week, at the company’s historic Compass Inn Museum on Route 30 in Laughlintown.

Emily Barth, the museum’s chief interpreter and society guide, will lead the sessions, drawing on a long interest in languages ​​and a doctorate in linguistics from Cornell University.

Beginning with Latin lessons at school when she was growing up in Ligonier, Barth “always loved languages. Throughout my graduate studies, I pursued this.

“I see language as a living artifact, something that has been around for millennia and is used every day. Some words haven’t changed at all and some are completely different.

Various language-related topics will be explored during each of the sessions, which do not require attendance on the previous dates.

“I thought the most fun way to make it accessible would be to frame it around interesting questions,” Barth said. “I have a list of five or six questions for each session.”

For example: where is the ham in a burger, how does a shirt become a skirt, when is a T not a T, and what is the plural of octopus?

The themes of the sessions are: “Serious Wordplay”, February 24; The History of English,” March 10; “Language Evolution,” March 24; and “Frankenstein’s English,” April 7.

Regarding the last topic, Barth said, “English is a real mashup and hodgepodge of all the different sources and influences. What would English be like without the influence of Latin?

Barth’s presentations represent the start of the planned “Fireside Chats”, where experts on various topics will sit down to talk about their area of ​​study with Compass Inn visitors.

“We are more than delighted to have the opportunity to showcase the diverse knowledge of our skilled members of staff here at the Compass Inn Museum,” said Theresa Gay Rohall, executive director of the historical society.

Admission to each language session is $5 and includes tea or coffee. Participation is recommended for adults only due to the complex nature of the subject. Face coverings are mandatory inside the hostel.

Tickets can be purchased online. A link can be found by choosing the calendar of events under “news and events” on

The seats are limited. Those planning to purchase tickets at the door are encouraged to call the company ahead at 724-238-6818.

Jeff Himler is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter .

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