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Last Build Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:16:56 +0000


Reinventing the Canon for Free.

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 00:16:56 +0000

The newly published book Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry: Reinventing the Canon, edited by Katharine Hodgson, Joanne Shelton and Alexandra Smith, is an interesting-looking collection of essays available in paperback for £25.95, in hardback for £36.95, and as a pdf download for free! Just go to the Open Book Publishers book page and click the appropriate link […]

Everybody Loses.

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 00:09:06 +0000

James Somers has an infuriating article in the Atlantic describing the collapse of a great dream: You were going to get one-click access to the full text of nearly every book that’s ever been published. Books still in print you’d have to pay for, but everything else—a collection slated to grow larger than the holdings […]

The Curse of the Diaeresis.

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 00:28:30 +0000

As I said here, Mary Norris of the New Yorker “has consistently irritated me with her stubborn insistence on every bit of peevery that has encrusted the magazine over the years,” but I admit I enjoyed her (now five years old) squib on the magazine’s famous diaeresis (“those two dots, often mistaken for an umlaut”). […]

Marcia Lynx Qualey on Arabic Literature.

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 00:57:21 +0000

Henry Ace Knight interviews Marcia Lynx Qualey, “a household name among students and aficionados of Arabic and Middle Eastern literature, many of whom avidly read her blog” There’s lots of interesting stuff there, for instance: You wrote about the false claim of the emerging Arabic novel, and the distinction of “first Arabic novel” given […]

Some Hebrew Links.

Sun, 23 Apr 2017 00:48:17 +0000

1) Balashon investigates the word charoset חרסת, “a condiment made of fruits and spices with wine and sugar, used to sweeten the bitter herbs eaten on Passover night.” He begins with the seemingly “obvious and convincing” etymology given by Klein, “Probably formed from חרס cheres (=clay), in allusion to its claylike color,” and comes up […]

The Finer Points of Singular they.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 14:17:32 +0000

This post at the Log makes me very happy (the narrator is Bean): My eight-year-old daughter in conversation with me last night: Scene: I am giving her a sock, which she had brought home, only to find she already had both of her socks. So it logically must belong to some other girl (it’s obviously […]

The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations.

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:33:28 +0000

Ben Yagoda reviews Garson O’Toole’s new book, Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations, which sounds like a lot of fun; I’ll quote the ending, which I especially enjoyed: And so it goes with that wonderful tale about Hemingway being challenged to write a short story in six words, and coming up with, […]

Reef and Skerry.

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:27:29 +0000

I ran across the French word écueil, which was unfamiliar to me, and of course I looked it up. The English equivalent was allegedly reef, but I thought ‘reef’ was récif. Further investigation revealed that an écueil is actually a skerry, a small rocky island which may or may not be a reef. At any […]

Celtic Identity.

Wed, 19 Apr 2017 00:29:50 +0000

I’m making my way through the Oct. 9, 2015 TLS, and have just read Patrick Sims-Williams’ review (available here to subscribers) of a British Museum exhibition on the Celts; I thought the last couple of paragraphs worth reproducing: The Director of the British Museum introduces Celts: Art and identity as “not so much a show […]

Dipping into Fallon.

Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:22:44 +0000

Everybody knows (I hope) about the great Hobson-Jobson; R Devraj has posted at Dick & Garlick about another “great glossary of the colonial era,” S. W. Fallon’s A New Hindustani-English Dictionary (1879): Fallon took up the language of north India in the late 19th century as his field of study, the common colloquial speech which […]


Sun, 16 Apr 2017 13:36:24 +0000

Mark Liberman’s latest Log post features an amazing aspect of Google Translate; watch the brief video and enjoy the comments exploring it. As commenter كتشف said, “I think this rabbit hole goes on forever.”

Kerry Accent Again.

Sat, 15 Apr 2017 23:57:32 +0000

I know we just recently enjoyed the distinctive Kerry accent, but I can’t resist bringing you this RTE News story about farmer Mikey Joe O’Shea, who is upset about the theft of some of his sheep. (Don’t bother making “Ewe-ro” jokes; Twitter is way ahead of you.) Thanks, Trevor!

Small Homelands.

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 21:34:07 +0000

I’m reading Vera Tolz’s Russia’s Own Orient: The Politics of Identity and Oriental Studies in the Late Imperial and Early Soviet Periods (you can read a review by Denis V. Volkov here [pdf]), and I found this passage (on p. 37) of interest from a linguistic point of view: In the 1870s, Russia’s size and […]

Historic Book Odour Wheel.

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 00:15:10 +0000

ScienceDaily reports on a project “to document and archive the aroma associated with old books”; on the one hand, it seems ripe for mockery, but on the other hand, as a confirmed book-sniffer I can’t help but find it intriguing: A ‘Historic Book Odour Wheel’ which has been developed to document and archive the aroma […]


Wed, 12 Apr 2017 19:31:43 +0000

Gerardo Licón’s KCET story on pachucos, young Mexican-Americans in the WWII era, is excellent and taught me a lot about a culture of which I had only foggy and cliché-ridden ideas. What makes it LH material is the following paragraph: This brings us back to the question regarding why pachucos in Los Angeles seemed to […]

Code-switching as a Teaching Method.

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 00:18:50 +0000

Lameen Souag recently posted at Jabal al-Lughat about an intriguing teaching method: I haven’t done much language teaching in my life, but as a person who likes learning new languages, I’ve seen a fair range of different teaching methods applied, from only speaking the target language to saying almost everything in English. But the approach […]

Creating Ancient Languages for TV.

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 00:11:19 +0000

Gail Hairston, a PR person for the University for Kentucky, writes about a linguist with a great job: Throughout Andrew Byrd’s successful career in academia, he has pushed to understand ancient languages to a depth no one has before. His goal was to understand how languages spoken thousands of years ago actually sounded. […] He […]

A Proper Education.

Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:18:48 +0000

Having reached the year 1859 in my long march through Russian literature, I’m reading Turgenev’s Дворянское гнездо [A Nobleman’s Nest, also tr. Liza and Home of the Gentry], which has been called his “most characteristic, least controversial and most popular” novel. So far I’m finding it a bit of a slog, since it’s consisting mostly […]

Translating Agatha Christie into Icelandic.

Sat, 08 Apr 2017 20:07:54 +0000

Ragnar Jónasson “explains how rendering the great English thriller writer into his own language taught him how to write fiction himself”: I was 17 when I started working on my first Icelandic translation of an Agatha Christie novel. I had been reading her books for years and had already translated a few of her short […]

Great Mennonite Schisms.

Fri, 07 Apr 2017 00:29:39 +0000

I’ve always been a fan of schisms and heresies (see this post and those linked in its first sentence), so of course I was pleased to find “In Praise of Older Schisms,” by slklassen, the Drunken Mennonite; I knew I had to bring it here when I got to the last one: 10. The Famous […]