Last Build Date: Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:43:17 +0000


Crepax’s Reversed Lautverschiebung .

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 00:43:17 +0000

A fun post from goofy at bradshaw of the future: Guido Crepax’s Valentina comics feature a subterranean race with a language that was heavily influenced by Germanic languages – he calls it “Lautverschiebung in reverse” as I noted in my previous post. These stories have recently been published by Fantagraphics in beautiful English editions and […]

‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’.

Mon, 26 Jun 2017 21:56:04 +0000

Like many people, I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of “dreamtime” (which I was probably introduced to by the notoriously unreliable Bruce Chatwin); I’ve also been uneasy about depending on vague thirdhand understanding of what I was aware must be an incredibly complicated cultural complex of ideas. If you’re like me, you will welcome […]

The Australian National Dictionary Online.

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:55:27 +0000

The main page of The Australian National Dictionary says: In the tradition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the Australian National Dictionary Centre – a joint initiative of the Australian National University and Oxford University Press – published The Australian National Dictionary: A Dictionary of Australianisms on Historical Principles in 1988. Oxford University Press has been […]

Nahuatl in LA.

Sun, 25 Jun 2017 00:11:52 +0000

Peggy McInerny writes about a Nahuatl program for the Latin American Institute: The language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl [pronounced na’ wat], is alive and well today in Los Angeles. Beginning and intermediate classes in modern Nahuatl are offered at UCLA, with an advanced class slated to launch next year. A few miles due north at […]

Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:18:19 +0000

Timur Baytukalov has created what looks like a useful site for language learners,; he says: I created this website with phonetic transcription converters – They can convert text into IPA phonetic transcription. I already support seven languages (English, Russian, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Italian). Russian and French converters have embedded audio recordings. Some […]

Purging Western Words from Turkish.

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 00:29:25 +0000

Over at the Log, Victor Mair posted about the latest silly governmental attempt to control language, in this case Erdoğan’s campaign against foreign influences in Turkish; he quotes an article in The Economist: Mr Erdogan started by ordering the word “arena”, which reminded him of ancient Roman depravity, removed from sports venues across the country. […]

Dauvit Horsbroch on the Scots Leid.

Thu, 22 Jun 2017 00:46:01 +0000

Dauvit Horsbroch, of the Scots Language Centre, has a video lecture (just under 20 minutes) on the Scots language (“leid” in Scots) that’s a fascinating experience for an English speaker; the more you listen the more you understand, and it’s a linguistically informed talk about language — what’s not to like? Via MetaFilter, where Happy […]

On Interviewing Translators.

Tue, 20 Jun 2017 15:10:30 +0000

Well, it’s not really about interviewing translators, it’s about interviewing coders, using translators as a stand-in: What if companies interviewed translators the way they interview coders? by Jose Aguinaga. But how can I resist something that has questions like “how did the Arabic invasion in the Iberian Peninsula between the years of 711 and 1492 […]

The Bloggers Karamazov.

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 22:30:17 +0000

I recently discovered the existence of what looks like a very interesting Russian-lit blog, The Bloggers Karamazov (“The Official Blog of The North American Dostoevsky Society”); I discovered it in the most flattering possible way, by their asking me if I would mind if they republished my post Dostoevsky’s Stepanchikovo. I said that of course […]

Language Is Like Flowing Water.

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:14:36 +0000

R. Devraj of the excellent blog Dick & Garlick has posted about an interesting bit of poetry: भाखा बहता नीर: language is like flowing water I’m not too sure where I came first across this line of Kabir’s, which describes his views on language in a pithy epigrammatic style, contrasting the dead Sanskrit of the […]

The Wor(l)d of Ulysses.

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 00:36:04 +0000

Stan Carey at Sentence first has a great post about the mess that is the text of Joyce’s Ulysses: The length and complexity of Ulysses, and the difficulties of its publication, mean that many subtly different versions of the text exist. The first legal edition in the US, which became its standard edition for decades, […]

Edge of the Knife.

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 21:42:23 +0000

Catherine Porter reports for the NY Times on what sounds like a very worthy promising project, Canada’s first Haida-language feature film, Edge of the Knife: With an entirely Haida cast, and a script written in a largely forgotten language, the film reflects a resurgence of indigenous art and culture taking place across Canada. It is […]

Alexander and the Mosquito.

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:04:08 +0000

I’ve just started Turgenev’s novel Накануне (On the Eve) — I’ve reached the 1860s! — and in the first few pages, in the course of a conversation between the young friends Bersenev and Shubin, the latter, lying on his stomach and observing the goings-on in the grass, says: Меня больше всего поражает в муравьях, жуках […]

Chinghiz Aitmatov and Kyrgyzstan.

Thu, 15 Jun 2017 00:38:14 +0000

I still haven’t read any Chinghiz Aitmatov, though I’ve been wanting to for ages (and I got a collection of his back in 2011), so I was intrigued to see Ted Trautman’s Paris Review piece on him from a few years ago (thanks, Trevor!). I hadn’t realized quite how central he was to the cultural […]

Latin-speaking Muslims in Medieval Africa.

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:34:52 +0000

Lameen Souag has a fascinating post at Jabal al-Lughat about an unexpected survival of spoken African Latin: In his recent book La langue berbère au Maghreb médiéval (p. 313), Mohamed Meouak uncovers a short recorded example of spoken African Latin from between these two periods, which otherwise seems to have escaped notice so far. The […]

Crystal on Grammar and Be.

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 22:52:13 +0000

Yes, I know that post title reads oddly, but I’m trying to mash together the titles of two new books by David Crystal which I received in the same review-copy package from Oxford: Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar and The Story of Be: A Verb’s-Eye View of the English Language. As you […]

Albania’s Competing Alphabets, 1908.

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 14:11:44 +0000

Joel of Far Outliers is quoting passages from Edith Durham’s 1909 travel book High Albania, and I thought this one was so striking I couldn’t resist quoting most of it myself: In early days an alphabet was made by Bishop Bogdan, and used by the Jesuits for all Albanian printed matter required by the church. […]

Algonquian Language Atlas.

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 00:23:54 +0000

CBC News reports: Sometimes, it takes an outsider to notice the obvious. Such was the case for linguistics professor Marie Odile Junker when she came to Canada from France. “It struck me you could learn any immigrant language of this land. Chinese, Spanish, but you could not learn those (Indigenous) languages. So, as a linguist, […]


Sat, 10 Jun 2017 00:40:50 +0000

Bathrobe sent me Isham Cook’s recent post Anglish and English: Why our language is 750 and not 1,500 years old; both the confrontational title and the fact that the page features a misspelled label “Miscellania” suggested crackpottery to me, but I thought I’d pass it along for discussion. The basic thesis is in this passage: […]

Krechinsky and Nozdryov.

Thu, 08 Jun 2017 19:44:57 +0000

I greatly enjoyed reading the play Свадьба Кречинского (Krechinsky’s Wedding) by Aleksandr Sukhovo-Kobylin (and I call your attention to the truly remarkable facial hair visible at that link), and then I enjoyed watching two versions of it on YouTube, the 1953 Moscow Pushkin Drama Theatre one and the 1975 Maly Teatr one (the latter is […]