5 Minutes, 17 British Accents

accent

Do you know what separates the accents of Bilbo, the Dowager Countess, and Eddard Stark? Well, watch this and you will. H/T Open Culture [Read more...]

Learn Latin and Greek in 10 Easy Lessons

Well, maybe not “easy,” but at least the “10″ part is right. The Language Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin has a series of language modules with some pretty exotic offerings, including Hittite, Gothic, Old English, Old Norse, Ancient Sanskrit, and more. The lessons of more immediate interest would be Latin, Classical [Read More...]

Medieval Latin Dictionary Finished After 100 Years

latin

Work on the The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (DMLBS) began in 1913. It was completed this month,  58,000 entries, 3,830 pages, and 17 volumes later: Begun in 1913, the finished dictionary is the culmination of a century-long enterprise which has had over 200 researchers working on it over the decades. Based on the writings found in poetry, [Read More...]

That Lincoln Music: The Language of Gettysburg

hay-draft

Shelby Foote called that almost mystical power Lincoln had with words “the Lincoln music,” and that’s exactly right. There are words of Lincoln I have returned to hundreds of times because their character–poetic, chantlike, entrancing, powerful–is so overwhelming. It has some of the character of Whitman, but with an oratorical mastery, compression, and skill that [Read More...]

Apostrophe to Zion: New Meaning for a Dead Sea Scroll?

psalmscroll

I’m still enjoying Slacktacular August with a reduced blogging schedule, but I thought this was a fascinating little slice of the philology world that shows how scholars grapple with ancient languages and shifting meanings. In this case, it’s the Hebrew root “taph-bet-ayin,” which has various modern meanings: “to demand,” “to investigate,” “to prosecute.” The “Apostrophe [Read More...]

And Your Orwellian Phrase of the Day Is …

James Clapper

… “least untruthful.” It sounds better than “lying to Congress” or “perjury,” doesn’t it? Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is really struggling to explain why he told Congress in March that the National Security Agency does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans. His latest take: It’s an unfair question, [Read More...]

The Most Important Book I Ever Read

cthulhu

I wish I could say it was something grand that I can look back upon with pride: maybe the Bible, or Hamlet, or In Our Time, or the Divine Comedy, or Gatsby, or The Confessions, or Lord of the Rings, or the tales of Poe and Doyle and Lovecraft. But although I would cite all [Read More...]

“Finnegan” Awakes in China

311joyce

James Joyce’s famously impenetrable novel Finnegan’s Wake has been published in China. And it’s a bestseller! I’m blogging this just because a) I’m a lit geek, and b) it’s just weird. Dr.  Dai Congrong has spent 8 years translating a completely untranslatable novel into (according to the original article) “Chinese,” by which I assume they mean Mandarin. The translator, God [Read More...]


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