Tag Archives: Louisa D’Amore

World’s Only Nekitsa Speaker Is A Staples Grad

It must be the most unique internship ever.

Some Staples High School seniors spent the last month of the school year doing medical research at Yale. Some worked for hedge funds, on farms and as teacher assistants. One interned at “06880.”

Alex Mussomeli invented a new language.

In a school at which students have many passions — ice skating, robotics, gun safety, you name it — Alex’s love for linguistics stands out.

Alex Mussomeli

He took Italian through 4 Honors and an early college experience, and studied Japanese on his own. He was an avid member of both the Italian Club (helping fundraise for a school in Napoli) and the Linguistics Club (studying the science of language and culture).

The arcana of alphabets, grammar, syntax, phonemes, lexicology — things most of us never think about, let alone study — fascinate Alex.

So when it came time to design an internship, he decided to design a language.

But not just any language. This one would have its own letters. Its own tenses and sounds. Even its own history and culture.

Louisa D’Amore was eager to serve as his site supervisor. A Staples Italian teacher with a similarly strong interest in linguistics, she provided help when needed.

But for hours each day, Alex worked on his own.

“I had experience with foreign sounds, through Italian and Japanese. But I didn’t want to create a language that was a copy. I wanted it to feel foreign to me,” he explains.

So he examined others, like Albanian, Arabic, Greenlandic, Turkish, Uzbek, and polysynthetic Native American dialects.

He thought about how different one language can be from another. One example: An Amazonian language has words for “some” and “many,” but not specific numbers.

Then he began creating “Nekitsa.”

That’s the English transliteration, anyway. It has its own 29-letter alphabet, complete with a variety of sounds (similar to consonants and vowels), plus diacriticals.

The Nekitsa alphabet.

Nekitsa comes from the roots neki (“true”) and tsa (“speech”).

Interestingly, there are no adjectives. Instead of saying “silent person,” a Nekitsa speaker would says he has “the eyes of an owl.”

“When you learn a language, you put yourself in the shoes of other people,” Alex notes.

“When you create a language you do that too. But in this case, it’s the shoes of people who never existed.”

So Alex created a thousand-year history, along with letters and words.

“I imagined people speaking Nekitsa,” he explains. “A sophisticated society grew up along with the language.

The Nekitsa culture, Alex says, is based on “empathy and respect for others.”

Amazingly, Alex has cochlear implants, to help mitigate substantial hearing loss. That makes his work with languages — and all their diverse sounds, intonations and subtleties – even more impressive.

Louisa D’Amore

D’Amore was awed by Alex’s internship work. But he downplays it.

“It’s just like an artistic pursuit, where you want to create something unique.”

Alex will continue creating next fall at Wesleyan University. He hopes to design his own major, where he’ll explore ideas like meaning and perception, across different cultures.

But first there’s a family trip, to Tuscany and Stockholm.

Alex will speak fluently in Italy.

And he’ll probably learn Swedish before he leaves baggage claim.

(Since 2009, “06880” has told the stories of remarkable Staples graduates. Please click here, to help keep them coming. Thank you!)

Roundup: Fleet Feet’s Restaurants, Candlelight Concert, More

Looking for something to do on Saturday downtown?

Head to the Savvy + Grace Christmas tree. Child nutrition program Filling in the Blanks will sell reflective metal tags, which can hold a personal message or name to hang onto to the tree!  They’ll also collect 15-ounce soup cans.

Around the corner, the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra’s Brass Quintet will play in the pick-up circle outside Bedford Square on Elm Street, then move to Brooks Corner (1 to 3 p.m.)

Don’t forget to look at (and vote for) store window displays. Over 40 stores are vying for titles, in several categories. Click here for more information.

The Savvy + Grace tree.

Speaking of downtown: Like many retailers, Fleet Feet has been impacted by the pandemic.

But during the holiday season, the Sconset Square running shoe store is thinking about its neighbors — Westport’s restaurants.

So any customer who buys a $100 Fleet Feet gift card in the store gets a $20 gift card to a local eatery.

They’re open Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays 8 to 11 a.m. (appointment only), and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What a great idea. Run on down to get yours! (Hat tip: Sal Liccione)


As of yesterday, Westport had 839 cumulative cases of COVID-19 (772 confirmed, 67 suspected). That’s up 53 from the previous week — and the rate more than doubled from that previous week, when it was up by 25.

There were no coronavirus deaths in Westport over the past 7 days. Total deaths since the start of the pandemic are 25.

Click here for full statewide statistics.

I know everyone is busy this weekend with tons of holiday open houses, carol sings and other festive gatherings. (In our dreams…)

But don’t forget tomorrow’s Staples High School Candlelight Concert (Saturday, December 19, 7:30 p.m.). The 80th annual gift to the town is fully virtual this year. It includes many wonderful choral, orchestra and band selections, as well as cool interviews with current and past music instructors, alumni — even legends George Weigle and John Hanulik’s kids.

Click here for the free link. Then sit back and enjoy a memorable show.

More Staples news:  Louisa D’Amore has been recognized for outstanding achievement. She is one of 4 national recipients of the Italian Language Foundation’s Teacher Recognition Award.


Louisa D’Amore

And finally … to get you in the Candlelight Concert mood, here’s this gem from 2015: