Posts filtered by tags: Linguistics[x]


 

The curious case(s) of shashlik

*All images are by author Шашлы́к и падежи́ (shashl i k and cases) are quintessentially Russian things and a lot has been said about each one but always separately. What do you say if we take the best of both worlds and revise Russian cases while talking about the most perfect summer dish? That’s right, I want to have my shashlik and eat it too, or something like that. But first, a brief guide to some of the wonderful aforementioned blogs: What’s a Russian Picnic without Kebabs? Падежи: Everythi...
Tags: Food, Grammar, Linguistics, Zach, Shashlik


Back to Yangshuo

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 19 years since I was last in Yangshuo (near Guilin). I spent 4 days there with fellow English teachers from Hangzhou Wilson and Simon. We paid 100 RMB per night for our hotel. Old photo alert! (2002) Photo by Wilson Tai. This time was a family trip. I was there all last week. Our hotel room was a bit more expensive (although still reasonable), and definitely nicer. It was a very different travel experience, and due to the time lapse, you could say it...
Tags: Personal, Linguistics, Taobao, Travelogue, Wilson, Simon, Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi, Hangzhou Wilson, Wilson Tai


Bezoar.

Victor Mair posts at the Log about a very interesting word I hadn’t given much thought to. A bezoar is “A hard indigestible mass of material, such as hair, plant fibers, or seeds, found in the stomach or intestine of animals, especially ruminants and sometimes humans”; when I first ran across the word decades ago, I had the same experience as Mair: “Inasmuch as I had never heard anyone speak the word, I just made up my own pronunciation, and it consisted of three syllables: beh-zoe-are.” Bein...
Tags: Uncategorized, Linguistics, Mair, Victor Mair, Avestan


Word of the week: Twisties

“Having a little bit of the twisties,” said Simone Biles, the world’s best gymnast, explaining her decision July 27 to pull out of two Olympic finals in the Tokyo Olympics. For most of us non-gymnasts, twisties was a new term that prompted multiple explainers: It’s a mental block, it’s a sudden failure of muscle memory, it’s dangerous, it can even be deadly, especially when you’re attempting a skill called an Amanar, which is “a roundoff onto springboard, back handspring onto vaulting platform...
Tags: Psychology, Wikipedia, Sports, Linguistics, Tokyo, San Francisco Bay, Jargon, Pittsburgh Pirates, Simone Biles, Word of The Week, Nancy Friedman, Steve Blass, Getty Martin Bureau


Holloway and Hoelun.

Two items that have nothing to do with each other except the nicely chiming names: 1) I learn from Lev Oborin’s roundup (in Russian) of literary news that Julia Bolton Holloway claims to have discovered a manuscript in Dante’s hand. This seems like it would be big news, but Oborin links to a Daily Fail story that I didn’t even bother to click on, and when I googled [holloway dante manuscript] I got only a few hits, all from almost a month ago and with almost no details — this LitHub piece shows...
Tags: UK, Wikipedia, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Dante, Holloway, Hoelun, Julia Bolton Holloway, Irina Kotova, Оэлун, Temujin Genghis Khan


77th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

5pm was a very important time in Warsaw, Poland. Today is 77th Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising (Powstanie Warszawskie). 5pm was W Hour (Godzina W), when Warsaw remembered the heroes who fought against nazis during the Warsaw Uprising. Today, at 5pm Warsaw stopped for one minute to remember the heroes (bohaterowie) who fought against Nazi horror. Cars (samochody), public transports (transport publiczny), people (ludzie) stopped for one minute and city sirens and churches bells rang for one min...
Tags: Holidays, Germany, History, Linguistics, Nazi, Warsaw, Warsaw Uprising, Poland Warsaw, Home Army, Warsaw Poland Today, Warsaw Uprising Powstanie Warszawskie, Warsaw Uprising Today, Kamyq, Polish Home Army Armia Krajowa AK, Nazis Forces, Filtrowa St


Wag the Dog.

I’ve known the expression “the tail wagging the dog” for as long as I can remember, but I had no idea it had a specific origin; Dave Wilton explains it at Wordorigins.org: The tail wagging the dog is a metaphorical expression for a minor part directing the actions of the whole. The metaphor is rather obvious, but unlike many such expressions, this one has a definitive origin. It comes from Tom Taylor’s play Our American Cousin, which was first performed in New York on 15 October 1858. The play w...
Tags: New York, Uncategorized, Ford, Linguistics, New Orleans, Florence, Abraham Lincoln, Burlington Vermont, Tom Taylor, Wordorigins, Dave Wilton, Dundreary, Milwaukee Daily Sentinel


Nineteen Years of Languagehat.

I’m shaking my head in disbelief as I write this: nineteen years! It started out as a goofy experiment — I was leaving comments on blogs, and bloggers were saying hey, why not blog, so I blogged — and I’ve kept soldiering on, even as almost all those early compadres have vanished into the mist, some to Facebook and some into the unknown (though I believe Squiffy-Marie “Des” von Bladet is still piginawigging away at Diaryland, wherever that is). As I do every year, I thank all those who drop by...
Tags: Facebook, London, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Sorbonne, Languagehat, Trifonov, Camille Cottin, Squiffy Marie Des von Bladet, Diaryland, Lauren Collins New Yorker Paris Postcard


Digital Dostoevsky.

At Bloggers Karamazov (The Official Blog of The North American Dostoevsky Society), Kate Holland posts about a promising project: Digital Dostoevsky is a computational text analysis project on a corpus of 5 novels and two novellas by Fyodor Dostoevsky. It is a digital humanities project which emerges out of our long-standing interest in traditional philological analysis. We are excited by how digital approaches such as TEI encoding, machine reading, and natural language processing can help to an...
Tags: Russia, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Dostoevsky, Karelia, Bakhtin, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Petrozavodsk State University, North American Dostoevsky Society Kate Holland, Dostoevsky 's Complete Works, Soviet Academy of Sciences, Brothers Karamazov We


Russian Inventions You Know

Today I want to talk about one of the extremely important and debatable topics about Russia – the achievements of its citizens in innovations that have changed the modern world. Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay   Brain Drain  – Утечка мозгов On the one hand, Russia has long been known for its scientists (учёные), researchers (исследователи), and inventors (изобретатели). On the other hand, there is a sad fact called “intellectual (интеллектуальная) emigration (эмиграция)” or “brain drai...
Tags: Google, Europe, Usa, Science, France, China, Germany, Russia, Tetris, United States, Sergey Brin Сергей Брин, Linguistics, Moscow, Parachute, Thomas Edison, Soviet Union


The Origin and Evolution of Word Order.

OP Tipping at Wordorigins.org posted Murray Gell-Mann and Merritt Ruhlen’s 2011 PNAS article The origin and evolution of word order, whose abstract reads: Recent work in comparative linguistics suggests that all, or almost all, attested human languages may derive from a single earlier language. If that is so, then this language—like nearly all extant languages—most likely had a basic ordering of the subject (S), verb (V), and object (O) in a declarative sentence of the type “the man (S) killed (...
Tags: Uncategorized, Linguistics, PNAS, OVS, Murray Gell Mann, Wordorigins, Merritt Ruhlen


Katakana Parade of Nations.

A timely post by Joel at Far Outliers: I don’t remember how Japan ordered the Parade of Nations when it hosted the Olympics in 1964 (when I was in high school there), but this year the nations were ordered according to how their Japanese names sounded in katakana, the Japanese syllabary used to render foreign names. A full list of the nations in Japanese order can be found in the NPR report about the parade. Katakana order was used even when names contained kanji (Chinese characters). So Equator...
Tags: Japan, Germany, Uncategorized, Senegal, Pakistan, Guinea, Linguistics, Nba, Tokyo, Npr, Seychelles, Joel, Virgin Islands, NBI, NMA, Parade of Nations


July linkfest

I haven’t recommended a book in a while, so this month I’m recommending two, both of them new, both of them about language. (And each one blurbed by the author of the other one, which must be a coincidence, right?) Highly Irregular, by Arika Okrent, looks at many of the things that make English such a weird language, some of which may be so familiar you’ve never questioned them. Why isn’t of spelled with a v? How come we say how come? Why do we say big spender and large pizza, but not large ...
Tags: Books, Fashion, Music, UK, Writing, US, Walgreens, New York Times, Linguistics, National Health Service, Starbucks, Words, French, British, Contests, Penguin Random House


Another Language Challenge.

Norbert Wierzbicki has posted another Guess The Language Challenge video; this one is thirty minutes long and features Julie Maksimova, a Latvian language lover. She was very good (if perhaps excessively tentative) and got all the answers right, and this time he shows the texts in written form afterwards, which is great. I got all the answers right (large Cup of Satisfaction!); I got 1, 2, 3, and 6 easily, 4 with the help of the map Julie requested, and 5 only by the same kind of desperate gue...
Tags: Uncategorized, Linguistics, Julie, Norbert Wierzbicki, Julie Maksimova


Patience à la russe

Patience is a virtue and also a fascinating word in Russian: терпе́ние. Let’s look at how to use that word and its derivatives in a sentence. Towards the end we will talk about translating the imperative “потерпи́” and a few idiomatic expressions with “терпе́ние”. Image by sipa from Pixabay Терпе́ние — patience It means «выноси́ть страда́ние» (endure suffering) but used to mean «застыва́ть» или «столбене́ть» (to freeze or petrify). Most dictionaries agree that it’s the ability to willingly e...
Tags: Cdc, Culture, Language, Linguistics, Idioms, Vocabulary, Russian life, Ulrike Mai


Paisa.

Alexander Jabbari, an assistant professor of Persian language and literature, examines the spread of a word I personally hadn’t given much thought to: […] But one currency that expresses the shared past of an entire continent is the Omani rial, which is divided into baisa, a Hindi/Urdu loanword (paisa) with roots in Sanskrit. The word paisa, in fact, is spread all over the Indian Ocean world, from Myanmar to Mauritius and nearly everywhere in between. I first noticed this word while reading the ...
Tags: India, Uncategorized, Thailand, Linguistics, Oman, Kenya, Myanmar, Muscat, Maldives, Mauritius, South Asia, Martian, Indian Ocean, Gulf, East Africa, Urdu


Word of the week: SPAC

It’s been quite a year, so far, for novel acronyms and initialisms: NIL, NFT, XBE, TFG. (And let’s not forget LFG, from late 2019, which is now the title of a documentary, released in June 2021, about the US women’s national soccer team.) Now we have the next BFD of acronyms: SPAC. It rhymes with crack and it stands for “special purpose acquisition company.” Nasdaq defines SPACs as “publicly-traded investment vehicles that raise funds via an initial public offering (IPO) in order to compl...
Tags: Finance, Wall Street, US, Virgin Galactic, Linguistics, Nasdaq, Los Angeles Times, Cnbc, Chamath Palihapitiya, SPAC, Michael Hiltzik, LFG, Charles Duhigg, Duhigg, Word of The Week, Nancy Friedman


Guess The Language.

Another language quiz, this time thanks to Norbert Wierzbicki, who posts Guess The Language Challenge videos to YouTube; this one is twenty minutes long and features Raphael Turrigiano, an American studying linguistics in Scotland. Raphael was great, guessing all six (twice with the help of clues) and winning the large Cup of Satisfaction. Me, I got four of the six (thus winning the small Cup of Satisfaction) — 1 and 4 instantly, 6 by the end of the sample, and 3 with the help of the “fact” (w...
Tags: Youtube, Scotland, Uncategorized, Linguistics, Raphael, Wordorigins, Norbert Wierzbicki, Raphael Turrigiano


Ibsen and Turgenev.

Morten Høi Jensen’s NYRB review of a biography of Ibsen (Ivo de Figueiredo’s Henrik Ibsen: The Man and the Mask, translated from the Norwegian by Robert Ferguson) opens with a couple of good anecdotes: […] As many critics have noted, there’s more than a little of Ibsen in Rubek [from When We Dead Awaken]. In 1891 he too returned to Norway, having spent nearly three decades living abroad. And like Rubek, he was by then world famous; his plays sold hundreds of thousands of copies and were performe...
Tags: Europe, Uncategorized, Rome, Munich, United States, Linguistics, Norway, Henrik Ibsen, Oslo, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Ibsen, Isaiah Berlin, KNUT HAMSUN, Ivan Turgenev, NYRB


Clevelands baseball team is now the Guardians

They could have been the Spiders. Instead, Cleveland’s major-league baseball team, known for more than a century as the Indians, will be called the Guardians. The change will take place at the end of the 2021 baseball season. The “Guardians” name pays tribute to a Cleveland landmark: the twin Guardians of Traffic statues on the Hope Memorial Bridge, near the team’s home ballpark, Progressive Field. Sports Illustrated provided some historical detail: The Guardians of Traffic statues have fl...
Tags: Design, Mascot, Naming, Renaming, Sports, Nancy Friedman


How Arabic Made It New.

Anna Della Subin’s NYRB review of Robyn Creswell’s City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut enlightened me about a modernist movement I was only barely aware of (though of course I’d heard of Adonis): Robyn Creswell’s City of Beginnings is the story of how Arabic made it new. Beirut has been overlooked in classic histories of modernism, yet Creswell, a professor of comparative literature at Yale, […] has remedied this with eloquence and erudition in his study of how a group of exiles, icon...
Tags: Europe, California, Berlin, Uncategorized, Syria, Rome, Yale, Middle East, Linguistics, Beirut, Pacific, Baghdad, Mediterranean, Latakia, Shi, Adonis


Hot dog for breakfast? Only in Poland.

Polish breakfast (śniadanie) is definitely nothing like a breakfast in USA. And a hot dog without a bun is pretty much a breakfast staple in Poland. There are so many different types of hot dogs served in Poland, but the typical breakfast ones are “parówki wieprzowe“, which are pork hot dogs, with a very delicate taste and good quality. They are usually pretty thin or short and little.  They are served with cold cuts (wędliny), cheeses (sery), bread (chelb) and rolls (bułki), buffet style. There...
Tags: Food, Usa, Culture, Linguistics, Poland, Traditions, Dagny Walter, USA Parówki, Pixabay Hearty


Things That Get Called Russian – Part 2

We continue to discuss what people around the world call Russian, except the Russians themselves. Image by anncapictures from Pixabay Black Russian – Чёрный русский Black Russian is a classic cocktail (коктейль) based on vodka and coffee liqueur. It was created in 1949 by Gustave Tops, a Belgian bartender (бармен). The cocktail recipe is simple: for five parts of vodka (водка), you need to add two parts of coffee liqueur (кофейный ликёр) and ice (лёд). However, there are many variations of...
Tags: Food, China, Russia, Culture, United States, Language, Linguistics, Red Army, Anton Chekhov, Russian Language, Soviet Union, Olivier, Republic of Belarus, Vocabulary, Russian Culture, Russian Vocabulary


Embodied Speech in the Northwest Amazon.

Janet Chernela, a professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, has a thought-provoking article “Language in an ontological register: Embodied speech in the Northwest Amazon of Colombia and Brazil” (Language & Communication 63 [Nov. 2018]: 23-32); here’s the Abstract: Speakers of Eastern Tukanoan languages in Brazil and Colombia construe linguistic differences as indices of group identity, intrinsic to a complex ontology in which language is a consubstantial, metaphysical product—a ‘s...
Tags: Uncategorized, Colombia, Linguistics, Brazil, Denmark, University Of Maryland, EPPS, Santa Cruz, Schneider, Arara, Northwest Amazon, Sahlins, Janet Chernela, Northwest Amazon of Colombia, Vaupés River, Tukanoan Arawakanan Tupi


Why I'm not answering your Quora A2A

On Quora, the question-and-answer crowdsourcing site, I frequently get A2As—that’s short for Ask to Answer—from people hoping to score a free business name. I wrote for Medium about why I no longer answer those requests. [Author: Nancy Friedman]
Tags: Crowdsourcing, Linguistics, Naming, Nancy Friedman


Eye-Philologists.

From W. B. Stanford’s The Sound of Greek: Studies in the Greek Theory and Practice of Euphony (University of California Press, 1967), via Laudator Temporis Acti: In our world of printed books we mostly study and enjoy literature in silence. We do sometimes hear the sound of poetry and of good prose in the classroom and in the theatre, and when we listen to the radio. But most of our literary experience, as adults at any rate, is silent. We sit in a library or at home; our eyes move quickly over ...
Tags: Greece, Stanford, Uncategorized, Rome, Linguistics, Cleanth Brooks, Practice of Euphony University of California Press, John Anthony O Brien, Otto -RSB- Jespersen, Robert Penn Warren Modern Rhetoric New York


The Terrifying Vrooom.

Colin Burrow has a magnificent review essay on William Empson in the latest LRB that I can’t resist quoting chunks of; I only wish AJP (who just last year said “Colin Burrow is God”) were still here to enjoy it: Empson was famously chucked out of Magdalene College, Cambridge, when condoms were found in his room. He spent the early part of his academic career teaching in Japan and China. He was a staggering drinker and a wild eccentric in his social manner, as well as in his disorderly mandarin-s...
Tags: Japan, China, Uncategorized, Britain, Williams, Oxford, Linguistics, Yorkshire, Cambridge, Shakespeare, Cleopatra, Alice, Buddha, Milton, Richards, Madge


Things That Get Called Russian – Part 1

There are some things that are called Russian in the world. But not in Russia. In today’s blog, I will tell you about what is called Russian and why. Nevertheless, not all Russians know it. Image by Isaac Oliva from Pixabay Russian Mountains – Русские горки The interesting fact is that the oldest roller coasters were called “Russian Mountains . “And they really were indeed invented in Russia. It was Russian sledding ( катание на санях ) that became the original idea for roller coas...
Tags: Usa, Russia, Language, Paris, Linguistics, Catherine, Vocabulary, Russian Vocabulary, Russian Roulette, Russian words, learn Russian, Russian Mountains, Russian roller coaster, Isaac Oliva, Pixabay Russian Mountains Русские, St Petersburg Peter


Removing Traces of German.

Joel at Far Outliers posts an excerpt from R. M. Douglas’s Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War (Yale UP, 2012) that shows a language-related aspect of human insanity: In each of the expelling countries, governments, residents, and ecclesiastical authorities struggled mightily to eradicate all indications that Germans had ever been present. As Edvard Beneš urged his compatriots, “We must de-Germanize our republic … names, regions, towns, customs—everything ...
Tags: Uncategorized, George Orwell, Yale, Linguistics, Poland, Douglas, Joel, Yugoslavia, Wrocław, Banat, Far Outliers, Edvard Beneš, Commandant Srević


Bad Enough.

It occurred to me that the phrase “bad enough” must be a difficult one for learners of English. It’s used in two different ways, nicely illustrated by the first two hits that came up on a LH site search: 1. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the words are Grecified Russian to start with, their current names are Byelorussian or Polish that look different again. 2. The badger definition is bad enough to be a hoax. It’s also interesting that there’s no contrasting “good enough” in the first usage (th...
Tags: Uncategorized, Linguistics, Grippe, Boris Badenov, Erkältung