(About) The Artist

Greetings, curious one!
My name is Mariam, and I am the mastermind of Beyond Babylonia — all entries, art pieces, concepts, and research posted on this blog are my own intellectual property, unless specifically stated otherwise.

Who is Mariam?
Mariam is a sentient, rational organism who enjoys burying her nose in books about geopolitics, art history, ancient civilisations and conquests, endangered languages, the evolution of languages and dialects, and cognitive psychology. On weekends, you can catch her hiking, sharpening her archery skills, making coconut-wax candles, validating citations and editing articles from niche categories in Wikipedia, and occasionally writing on Quora. (In Couch Potato Mode: She will either be cruising around on Google Earth, potato-ing by the fireplace, or landscaping the yard/woods on which she lives).

She has her sights set on cultural and historic preservation, and would like a career involved in research. Mariam is a staunch advocate for MENA Christianity and its prosperity, and would like to become a more powerful supporter of suppressed populations, animal rights, and minority rights in the region.

Katyusha (rocking her beautiful Tuxedo fur) and myself (adorning the traditional Yemeni attire from Sana’a). ______________________________________________

WARNING: Mariam abruptly switches tenses. 

I, Mariam, mentioned a few of the disciplines I am interested in above. Now here are some additional topics pertaining to my deeper research interests —

Antiquity: Preservation of manuscripts, safeguarding antiquities, breaking codes, techniques on how archaic inscriptions (“Cuneiform” and hieroglyphics) have been deciphered, and early folklore, are just a few from a MYRIAD of my interests in Ancient (Mesopotamian, Arabian, and Near-Eastern) History. Although the interests I have listed tend to migrate toward other regions of the world; I would love to learn more on American (pre-Columbian) civilisation and languages, too.

Cultural Preservation: I enjoy reading about cultural anthropology; how do conflicts, conquests, and immigration affect the native languages of a diaspora. My extended family is a unique instance of that since our exile in ’62. I am particularly interested in how the Assyrian, Inuktitut, and Quechua languages (very different families, I know) were absorbed by the dominant culture, how the languages transmit from one generation to the next, the changes that occurred and accumulated over time, and the identity crises that follows folks from those cultures.
Languages are meant to evolve, so should we intervene and keep those languages pure? How do we do that? What are the values of each and every minority language, given the fact that the biggest flaw is that communication is limited to speakers of that rare language? I enjoy thinking of these ethical questions as well.

Languages: I enjoy ancient language evolution, and how conquests influenced a culture and language. Akkadian, Avestan, and Aramaic. As a fervent linguaphile, I could drown myself in the history of any particular language (or branch of languages). A timeline is conceived in my mind as I examine every detail of how the language evolved through the ages, and often, timelines in my mind will intersect if I note two or more languages coming into contact with one another. I am easily captivated by letterforms, including their most minuscule features and unique details.

Mammalian Minds: Why does my cat exhibit some Human-like habits and behaviour, such as responding to her name, giving eye contact, sharing emotions through facial expressions, and a small variety of vocals that refer to her basic needs and wants. How do mammals create their own slang? Do mammals have mortality awareness, and are they aware if they are going extinct, or is it as simple as the need to reproduce and pass on their genes without regard to what happens in the next generation?

Animal Rights and Intelligence: I am very serious about ethical treatment of animals, wildlife conservation, and believe in the various types of intelligences found in Animal Kingdom. I support the research that shows whales and dolphins (Cetaceans) as having sophisticated methods of communication. This includes the creative use of expressions and the inventing of new ‘clicks’ that can be understood by their whole pod, but not by other pods.

One of my areas of interest is in the role Typography plays in language acquisition.

Language acquisition in one’s primary language: such as drafting and designing typefaces in Roman and Arabic characters that could serve as tools for dyslexics to rise above their struggle, and will open new doors for them to acquire other languages (as long as the tools engineered with dyslexics in mind are available in those languages).

Language Acquisition in foreign or secondary languages: I also pay attention to how speakers of one language can pick up on reading and writing in another language which shares similar semantics, but differs in script. I will dedicate several posts on this blog concerning my life-long advocacy in preserving the Neo-Aramaic (Assyrian) language AND Syriac scripts in the contemporary “Arabised” Levant and Mesopotamia.

Also regarding language, but on a more personal level:
I frequently swap between British and American spelling. Both are correct, and are a result of my upbringing in the U.S. and abroad. This is a semi-formal blog, so there may not be consistency between one spelling or the other. In formal writing, I strive for consistency in my spelling (whether in British or in American). I generally favour Oxford over Webster. I can read and write in languages of different scripts: Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Syriac, and have a proud collection of vocabulary, but lack the ability to speak them well. I tried self-learning Georgian and Amharic, but found both alphabets too difficult (let alone trying to read unassisted).
Arabic and English are my two only proficiently fluent languages that I can actually communicate with via listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Ich used to wissen genug Deutsch to get by, and I see the value of polishing up on my German. Farsi, Hebrew, Assyrian, Russian, and French are other languages I have delved in during my lifetime, and enjoyed; I will commit to one of these languages at a time and adjust according to my future needs.

Other Curiosities: I am fascinated by constructed languages, fictional languages, fantasy worlds and mythological creatures, and cartography. Reading anything related to Geography boosts my adrenaline. I have bursts of interest in Theology, but bursts they shall remain. In some of my leisure time, I like to visit different cities and countries, paint, read, explore the mountains, star gaze, and write. All the while, I am only partially experiencing the reality, as I spend many of those moments exploring the depths of my own mind and wandering off in my imagination. For that reason, I am terrible at playing cards and poker, but love chess, Risk, and video games.
Plots, Quests, Narrations: There is a special art that comes in the form of creating an entire universe, plot designing, character development, etc. I appreciate and am impressed by them all. This type of work can be seen in many Novelists and visual narrators and in the productions of those working in animation, video game design, and illustration.

Professionally: Gotta earn a living, right? I have worked in hospitality, law, retail, and in design/publication. Graphic  Design/Illustration freelance work here and there. I also got sucked into the food production industry. I wish I could say that I am now at a crossroads . . . but the roads are nowhere to be found.

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This blog is my sanctuary; I do not make money from it, and I am not currently a student of Linguistics or History doing this as a mere assignment. So you will notice that I post only when I remember to and when I want to. I would like to share my writing on a more regular schedule, though.

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Thank you for dropping by, curious stranger! I hope you will stick around. :)

Shlama. Shalom. Salam. Salome.
PEACE!

• Feel welcome to contact Mariam Alwazir at mariam.alwazir@gmail.com
(shoot me a comment on this blog or DM me on Quora if you do—I wouldn’t want to accidentally miss it).

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