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Last Build Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:17:46 +0000

 



Bill of Goods.

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:05:33 +0000

My wife and I were out walking when one of us mentioned somebody being “sold a bill of goods” and we looked at each other in that this-is-a-case-for-Languagehat way and said “How did that expression arise?” We surmised, correctly, that a bill of goods is literally a consignment of merchandise (in the words of Merriam-Webster), […]



Two Japanese Questions.

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 23:10:28 +0000

1) In Jangfeldt’s Mayakovsky bio, he says “After his return from Berlin in May 1924, Mayakovsky met with the Japanese author Tamisi Naito, who was visiting Moscow.” (In the original: “Efter hemkomsten från Berlin i maj 1924 träffade Majakovskij den japanske författaren Tamisi Naito, som var på besök i Moskva.”) I can find no reference […]



Dictionaries Are Hot Again.

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 01:47:39 +0000

Katherine Rosman has a piece for the New York Times on the current popularity of dictionaries: At a time when many are questioning the definition of common words they thought they understood, after years of the English language being degraded by text messages and hashtags, dictionaries have made a surprising comeback in the United States. […]



Triplex Confinium.

Sat, 18 Feb 2017 01:29:10 +0000

I’m in the middle of reading The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: From the Rise of Early Modern Empires to the End of the First World War, by Alfred J. Rieber; it’s very dense and very informative, and I’m learning all sorts of things I didn’t know. Herewith a few of LH interest: 1) Triplex […]



Norwottuck II.

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 23:06:46 +0000

A decade ago I posted about the local place name Norwottuck (“Or something like that”); now I’ve come across what seems to be a knowledgeable discussion in Alice Nash’s “Quanquan’s Mortgage of 1663” in Marla R. Miller (ed.), Cultivating a Past: Essays on the History of Hadley, Massachusetts. On p. 29 Nash says it’s properly […]



Russian Neologisms.

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:31:49 +0000

Since I’m in the middle of reading Bengt Jangfeldt’s Mayakovsky bio (and, of course, Mayakovsky’s poetry to go with it), it seemed like a good time to haul out my copy of Assya Humesky’s 1964 Majakovskij and His Neologisms, and I thought this passage from the introduction was interesting enough to share: In the history […]



CoCoON.

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 01:20:45 +0000

CoCoON (COllections de COrpus Oraux Numériques) is a platform for oral resources; it’s got Atlas Linguistique des Côtes de l’Atlantique et de la Manche, Atlas linguistique d’Haïti, AuCo: corpus audio de langues du Vietnam et des pays voisins, lots of good stuff. I got the link through the good offices of the ever-alert bulbul, who […]



Mark Woods, RIP.

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 14:09:13 +0000

I am very sorry to have to pass on the news that Mark’s brother Rod shared here: It is with regret that I have to let folks know that my brother, Mark, lost a lengthy, difficult battle with cancer on February 9, 2017. I appreciate seeing the value that his work / obsession / joy […]



What Is the Best Way to Learn Latin?

Mon, 13 Feb 2017 01:24:16 +0000

Eidolon (“an online journal for scholarly writing about Classics that isn’t formal scholarship”) presents a conversation between Eleanor Dickey, author of Learning Latin the Ancient Way: Latin Textbooks from the Ancient World, and Daniel Gallagher, who studied with Reginald Foster, author of Ossa Latinitatis Sola/The Mere Bones of Latin, “a Latin textbook using the legendary […]



Quints or Semitenths.

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 22:56:41 +0000

My wife and I are reading Trollope’s The Eustace Diamonds at night, and we’ve gotten to Volume 2, Chapter 55, which is called “Quints Or Semitenths.” This refers to Plantagenet Palliser’s cherished scheme to create a five-farthing penny (which, I now discover, was an actual proposal); I thought this passage near the start of the […]



‘Fog’, where ‘Fog’ means Fog.

Sat, 11 Feb 2017 01:11:01 +0000

Via the Facebook feed of Squiffy-Marie von Bladet, I bring you Michael Frayn’s “Fog-like Sensations.” It begins: (According to some sympathisers, the reason why drivers on the motorways failed to slow down in thick fog recently, and so crashed into each other in multiple collisions of up to thirty vehicles, was simply because the authorities […]



The Mystery of Fillers.

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 01:06:47 +0000

Back in 2009 we had a lengthy discussion of “Filler words in different languages”; now Dan Nosowitz reports for Atlas Obscura on the linguistics of the subject: Until about 20 years ago, few linguists paid filled pauses much attention. They were seen as not very interesting, a mere expulsion of sound to take up space […]



Patricia Crampton, RIP.

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 01:20:46 +0000

Julia Eccleshare’s Guardian obit for the translator Patricia Crampton makes an interesting companion piece to my recent post on Leon Dostert, since both were involved with the Nuremberg trial: Patricia Crampton, who has died aged 90, was an award-winning translator with an exceptional talent for making some of the best of European children’s literature come […]



Namus.

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 21:14:12 +0000

I was reading Victoria Lomasko’s “In Tbilisi,” an excerpt from her new book Other Russias (out March 7 from n+1), which I’m very much looking forward to, and was struck by this passage: In the Caucasus, there is a term for correct behavior on the part of the individual in society: namus, in Azerbaijani and […]



Language and Identity II.

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 00:52:29 +0000

Adam Taylor reports for the Washington Post on an interesting study: On Wednesday afternoon, Pew Research Center released a study that looked at how national identity is defined across 14 different countries using survey data taken at the start of last year. In light of the ongoing debate about immigration in pretty much every part […]



Philocothonista.

Mon, 06 Feb 2017 01:02:54 +0000

Philocothonista, or, The drunkard, opened, dissected, and anatomized, by Thomas Heywood, includes a chapter with the following splendid list of approved synonyms: I come now to the penall Statutes enacted for diverse forfeitures, upon most grave and mature deliberation, No man must call a Good-fellow Drunkard, for that’s a name of reproach and indignity, as […]



Pisemsky’s Thousand Souls II.

Sun, 05 Feb 2017 01:16:32 +0000

I’ve finished Alexei Pisemsky’s Тысяча душ [One Thousand Souls] (see this post), so I thought I’d provide a few final thoughts. The novel is in four parts; he started writing it in 1854, under the heavy censorship of that period, and finished it under the much freer conditions that prevailed after the Crimean War. Even […]



The Trials and Triumphs of Leon Dostert.

Sat, 04 Feb 2017 01:13:52 +0000

I’ve been wanting to post this article from the Occidental Magazine since I got the physical copy a year and a half ago (I’m an alumnus), but it takes the good people at Oxy a long, long time to put issues online. At any rate, here it is; it starts with Dostert’s creation of the […]



Petefre.

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 19:16:17 +0000

I’m on the fourth and last part of Pisemsky’s Тысяча душ [One Thousand Souls] (see this post), and in chapter 5 I ran across a phrase that baffled me: “затевает с ним шутки вроде жены Пентефрия” [played tricks with him like those of Pentefrii’s wife]. I finally remembered to look it up, and it turns […]



Stephen Owen Translates Du Fu.

Wed, 01 Feb 2017 14:25:46 +0000

Stephen Owen has translated all of Du Fu. Big deal, you say, people are always translating other people? Well, what if I tell you that (to quote Jon, who sent the link to me) “It’s a remarkable piece of work! The translations are beautifully lucid and can be read as poetry, but it’s a critical […]