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 -
Conceived as sort of a companion to Longreads, Longform, Pocket, Byliner, etc., Nieman Storyboard's Why's This So Good?
series looks at why
some great long-form journalism and narrative nonfiction pieces are so great. There are over 60 installments of writers talking shop about writing. [more inside]
posted by AceRock
on Nov 26, 2012 -
Are you the type of person who, when flipping through a book or scanning a website, immediately searches for the diagrams or charts because you'd rather absorb the information visually than have to read a bunch of text? If so, then you are probably a visual learner and you may find Useful Charts
helpful. The goal is to present useful information in the form of study charts so that students, teachers or simply those interested in increasing their general knowledge can absorb the information quickly and visually.
posted by netbros
on Oct 4, 2012 -
While Quebec’s status as the only primarily French-speaking province in Canada has resulted in a distinct cultural industry—particularly with regard to film and music—the province still enjoys many cultural products from English Canada. While movies and TV shows are often subtitled or dubbed into French, it is rare that the same is true of music. A notable exception is the music of Toronto-based Big Sugar
. [more inside]
posted by asnider
on Aug 30, 2012 -
English that looks like Chinese.
"At first glance, Square Word Calligraphy appears to be nothing more unusual than Chinese characters, but in fact it is a new way of rendering English words in the format of a square so they resemble Chinese characters. Chinese viewers expect to be able to read Square Word Calligraphy but cannot. Western viewers, however are surprised to find they can read it. Delight erupts when meaning is unexpectedly revealed." (Britta Erickson, The Art of Xu Bing
.) [more inside]
posted by jef
on Aug 27, 2012 -
A girl upon the shore did ask a favour of the sea;
"Return my blue eyed sailor boy safely back to me.
Forgive me if I ask too much, I will not ask for more,
but I shall weep until he sleeps safe upon the shore."
For nearly 20 years, Newfoundland group Great Big Sea
have been creating acoustic Celtic folk-rock covers and interpretations of traditional
Newfoundland and Labrador sea shanties
, fishing and party songs
, which draw from the island's rich 500-year-old multicultural (Irish, English, Scottish and French) heritage. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Aug 23, 2012 -
...it's true that the progressive passive first appeared in the English language in the second half of the 18th century, replacing what historians of English grammar call the passival.
posted by ancillary
on Jun 3, 2012 -
The myth of English as a global language One would have to say that English, far from being a pure maiden, looks like a woman who has appeared out of some distant fen, had more partners than Moll Flanders, learned a lot in the process, and is now running a house of negotiable affection near an international airport
posted by infini
on May 26, 2012 -
The Corpus of American Historical English
is a searchable index of word usage in American printed material from 1810 to 2009. Powerful complex searches allow you to trace the appearance and evolution of words and phrases and even specific grammatical constructions, see trends in frequency, and plenty more. Start with the 5-Minute Tour
posted by Miko
on Jan 7, 2012 -
It has long been noted that style manuals and other usage advice frequently contain unintended examples of the usage they condemn. (This is sometimes referred to as Hartman's
law or Muphry's
law - an intentional misspelling of Murphy.)
Starting from this observation, Joseph Williams' paper The Phenomenology of Error
offers an examination of our selective attention to different types of grammatical and usage errors that goes beyond the descriptivism-prescriptivism debate. (alternate pdf
link for "The Phenomenology of Error") [more inside]
posted by nangar
on Nov 28, 2011 -
Gullah—the African-influenced dialect of Georgia’s Sea Islands—has undergone few changes since the first slave ships landed 300 years ago, and provides a clear window into the shaping of African-American English. This classic PBS program
traces that story from the west coast of Africa through the American South, then to large northern cities in the 1920s. Studying the origins of West African pidgin English and creole speech—along with the tendency of 19th-century white Southerners to pick up speech habits from their black nursemaids—the program highlights the impact of WWI-era industrialization and the migration of jazz musicians to New York and Chicago.
posted by cthuljew
on Nov 15, 2011 -