I don't doubt characterising Orwell as a talented mediocrity will put noses out of joint. Not Orwell, surely! Orwell the tireless campaigner for social justice and economic equality; Orwell the prophetic voice, crying out in the wartime wilderness against the dangers of totalitarianism and the rise of the surveillance state; Orwell, who nobly took up arms in the cause of Spanish democracy, then, equally nobly, exposed the cause's subversion by Soviet realpolitik; Orwell, who lived in saintly penury and preached the solid virtues of homespun Englishness; Orwell, who died prematurely, his last gift to the people he so admired being a list of suspected Soviet agents he sent to MI5.
For the BBC's Point of View series, Will Self tackles the cult of Orwell
posted by MartinWisse
on Aug 31, 2014 -
The Australian Radio National program Poetica
recently broadcast two episodes of Jamaican Poetry, and it's a real delight to listen to these contemporary and archival recordings of Jamaican poets (from all over the world) reading their poetry, some with musical accompaniment. Episode 1
----- Episode 2
. [more inside]
posted by paleyellowwithorange
on Aug 20, 2014 -
My project today is replacing all the dialogue spoken by Antiguan characters in Of Noble Family with dialogue rewritten by Antiguan and Barbudan author Joanne Hillhouse.
Mary Robinette Kowal talks about
Let me explain why I’m doing this.
why she hired somebody else to help her with the Caribbean dialects for her next novel.
posted by MartinWisse
on Aug 6, 2014 -
“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!”
If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland
). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos
, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back
in 1989 (six episode playlist
). The shows were both translated in to French
(and the Spanish vocabulary builder
), and Italian
(Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back
posted by filthy light thief
on Jun 28, 2014 -
There are few professions more confusing, or misrepresented, than high school teaching. Education is a ubiquitous experience — public or private, we are all taught by someone, somewhere — and yet it remains misunderstood. I have now begun to write about teaching because I profoundly respect this vocation. I refuse to allow politicians to corner the rhetorical market on this subject. There are stories that need to be told.
I hesitate to call what follows "advice," though it might seem as such. There are so many varied experiences during a single teaching day that I am much more comfortable thinking in epigrammatic terms. I have a lot more to say about teaching, and certain reflections will need to wait. But, for now, here are 55 thoughts about teaching English.
Nick Ripatrazone, at The Millions
posted by davidjmcgee
on May 29, 2014 -
Starting up fan localization projects feels much like amassing the cast of your typical role-playing game: a group of random strangers rally around a common cause before embarking on their journey together. In was in this way that Mandelin and Erbrecht found each other — stumbling to create something beautiful and meaningful, and realizing they could make that beautiful and meaningful thing better by working together.
— For Polygon
, Alexa Ray Corriea dives into the underground world of fan-translated games
posted by MartinWisse
on May 21, 2014 -
The earliest Shakespeare quartos are over four hundred years old and constitute the rarest, most fragile body of printed literature available to Shakespeare scholars. Sold unbound and often read to pieces, they are among the most ephemeral books of the age and survive in relatively low numbers. In the absence of surviving manuscripts, the quartos offer the earliest known evidence of what Shakespeare might actually have written, and what appeared on the early modern English stage. Only about half of Shakespeare’s plays were printed in quarto during his lifetime (1564–1616), and before the first printed collection of his plays, the First Folio of 1623. They are living artifacts telling the story of how Shakespeare's
Hamlet, Henry V, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and
Romeo and Juliet, to name just a few, first circulated in print.... Due to their rarity and fragility, the earliest quartos are often not accessible to those who need to study them. Today, six institutions in the United Kingdom and United States stand out as the main repositories of the pre-1642 quartos.... Through this international collaboration, many of the earliest Shakespeare quartos are now freely available for in-depth study to students of Shakespeare across the globe.
You can read, compare, read annotations and overlay copies at Quartos.org
posted by filthy light thief
on Apr 12, 2014 -
One should add that he was an extraordinarily gifted con man, persuading the most discerning intellectuals that he had credentials he did not possess and a heroic personal history, rather than a scandalous one, while he worked his charm on generations of students. Just who was Paul de Man?
posted by shivohum
on Apr 7, 2014 -
We may not speak with the butter-toned exchanges of the characters on “Downton Abbey,” but in substance our speech is in many ways more civilized....
We are taught to celebrate the idea that Inuit languages reveal a unique relationship to snow, or that the Russian language’s separate words for dark and light blue mean that a Russian sees blueberries and robin’s eggs as more vibrantly different in color than the rest of us do. Isn’t it welcome, then, that good old-fashioned American is saying something cool about us for once?
- John McWhorter on colloquial American English
(SLNYTIMES) [more inside]
posted by beisny
on Apr 6, 2014 -
This book deals with the Dialect of the English Language that is spoken in Ireland. As the Life of a people—according to our motto—is pictured in their speech, our picture ought to be a good one, for two languages were concerned in it—Irish and English. ... Here for the first time—in this little volume of mine—our Anglo-Irish Dialect is subjected to detailed analysis and systematic classification.
P.W. Joyce's 1910 work, "English as We Speak it in Ireland,"
is a fascinating chronicle of a language's life, and no mistake. [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes
on Mar 6, 2014 -
"In very many cases, English has borrowed a word
from one language that had previously borrowed it from elsewhere. Among those Portuguese and Spanish words there are many that originated among speakers of very different languages. For instance, piranha comes ultimately from Tupi (a language of Brazil) and acai comes from a related language called Nheengatu, while mango is probably ultimately from Malayalam across the other side of the world in India, and monsoon is ultimately from Arabic (and in a further twist, Dutch may also have played a hand in how it came into English from Portuguese). " (There was a previous BBC article on this topic which is linked in the post which contains more examples.)
BBC article about how words have flowed back and forth over the centuries.
posted by marienbad
on Feb 13, 2014 -
In a move sure to delight MeFites everywhere, Ghent University in Belgium has created an online, almost arcade-game-like test of word knowledge
which is almost BS-proof. Know the word? Press J. Don't? Press F. But don't lie! You will be punished.
posted by grumpybear69
on Jan 29, 2014 -
The new chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary discusses its future
. "My idea about dictionaries is that, in a way, their time has come. People need filters much more than they did in the past."
posted by anothermug
on Jan 26, 2014 -
English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet. The word "because," in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, "because" has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I'm reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I'm reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which "because" lends itself. I mention all that ... because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use "because." Linguists are calling it the "prepositional-because." Or the "because-noun."
posted by scody
on Nov 19, 2013 -
From the New-York Mirror
of February 24, 1883:
“. . . a new and valuable addition has been made to the slang vocabulary. … We refer to the term “Dood.” For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. …
The Dood is oftenest seen in the lobbies of our theatres on first-nights. He puffs cigarettes or sucks his hammered-silver tipped cane in the entr actes, and passes remarks of a not particularly intellectual character on the appearance and dresses of the actresses. His greatest pleasure lies in taking a favorite actress or singer to supper at Delmonico’s or the Hotel Brunswick—places he briefly calls ‘Dels’ and the ‘Bruns’—where he will spend his papa’s pelf with a lavish hand. … ” [more inside]
posted by mannequito
on Oct 26, 2013 -
"During his days as Harvard’s influential president, Dr. Charles W. Eliot made a frequent assertion: If you were to spend just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, a quantity that could fit on a five-foot shelf, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. Publisher P. F. Collier and Son
loved the idea and asked Eliot to compile and edit the right collection of works. The result: a 51-volume series of classic works from world literature published in 1909 called Dr. Eliot’s Five Foot Shelf
, which would later be called The Harvard Classics
." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 11, 2013 -
Many languages have "high" and "low" layers of vocabulary. But in most other languages, the two sets are drawn from the same source. By contrast, contact between Old English and French, Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, Japanese and Chinese, Persian and Arabic, and other pairings around the world have created fascinatingly hybrid languages. These mixed lexicons are, for linguistic and social historians, akin to the layers of fossils that teach paleontologists and archaeologists so much about eras gone by.
Some people even think English is descended from Latin, or Kannada from Sanskrit. That’s frustrating not only because it’s wrong, but also because the reality is far more interesting.
- The Economist, Unlikely parallels
posted by beisny
on May 15, 2013 -
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
posted by The Whelk
on Apr 26, 2013 -
The Englishman and the eel
is a photo essay
of 93 images (thumbnails here; 2 pages)
by London photographer Stuart Freedman that "attempts to look at (amongst other things) the significance and the decline of the eel and its fading from the changing London consciousness" with snapshots of "those palaces of Cockney culture, the Pie and Mash shops." [more inside]
posted by taz
on Feb 24, 2013 -
is a librarian
. He blogs
. In August 2010, Dale was a tenured associate professor at Kansas State University, where librarians are granted faculty status. There, Dale blogged
about the quality, and prices, of publications from Edwin Mellen Press. Edwin Mellen Press has served McMaster University
(Dale's current employer) and himself with a three million dollar lawsuit, alleging libel and claiming aggravated and exemplary damages. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore
on Feb 9, 2013 -