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Tribunals of Erudition and Taste.

I can go for years without posting about Chinese poetry, and then boom, twice in a few days. I don’t even know which bits to quote from Lucas Klein’s long and thoughtful LARB essay “Tribunals of Erudition and Taste: or, Why Translations of Premodern Chinese Poetry Are Having a Moment Right Now”; he covers so […]

How Did “All Lives Matter” Come to Oppose “Black Lives Matter”? A Philosopher of Language Weighs In

You don’t doubt that we live in strange times. But if you did, I would direct your attention to the debate currently raging across the United States between the proponents of two three-word slogans – both of which are, in a sense, obviously true and each of which is obviously compatible with the other. Show More Summary

Theresa

Ian Preston writes: Following on from your analysis of how `Brexit' ought to be pronounced, I thought I'd bring to your attention that there is a question as to how the new British Prime Minster's name is pronounced. I will admit to having been uncertain whether she was [t??ri?.z?] or [t??re?.z?]. I am not alone: […]

A reactionary usage

Q: I’ve been seeing the use of the word “reactionary” for “reactive.” Have you noticed this? A: No, we haven’t noticed it and none of the standard dictionaries we rely on have entries for the adjective “reactionary” that include “reactive” as a meaning. Show More Summary

London Place Names.

The page is pretty self-explanatory: “The origin of London’s place names (districts and boroughs).” Some are less exciting than others (St Pancras: “named after a saint”; Shepherds Bush: “Shepherd’s bushes”), but it’s fun to peruse: who knew that Cockfosters meant “estate of the chief forester”? (If anyone sent me this link, let me know; I’m […]

Is language "analog"?

David Golumbia's 2009 book The Cultural Logic of Computation argues that "the current vogue for computation" covertly revives an "old belief system — that something like rational calculation might account for every part of the material world, and especially the social and mental worlds". Golumbia believes that this is a bad thing. I have nothing to say here about the […]

Cunctation for Titivating.

Mark Liberman has a funny post at the Log, quoting “FLM”: A colleague (who has requested anonymity) and I have developed a fondness for perfectly innocuous words which, to the linguistically unwashed masses, sound sexual. My colleague’s example sentence is Because her husband was intestate, she sought to dilate her fungible assets; despite cunctation for […]

Thanks! We’re not. attending this year.

Thanks! We’re not. attending this year. Thanks! We're not. attending this year. — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) July 16, 2016 http://twitter.com/GrantBarrett/status/754443884931977216

Digital scholarship and cultural ideology

Daniel Allington, Sarah Brouillette and David Golumbia, "Neoliberal Tools (and Archives): A Political History of Digital Humanities", Los Angeles Review of Books 5/1/2016: Advocates position Digital Humanities as a corrective to the “traditional” and outmoded approaches to literary study that supposedly plague English departments. Show More Summary

Innocuous words that sound sexual

FLM writes: A colleague (who has request anonymity) and I have developed a fondness for perfectly innocuous words which, to the linguistically unwashed masses, sound sexual. My colleague's example sentence is Because her husband was intestate, she sought to dilate her fungible assets; despite cunctation for titivating, she managed to masticate and lucubrate far into […]

Is There a Good Way to Translate Chinese Poetry?

The answer is clearly “Yes and no,” but detailed discussions of translation are always interesting, and here‘s one by Xujun Eberlein (you can read an interview with her here). Now, I have to say she lost me in terms of trusting her ear for poetry with this: I’ve heard some other Chinese poets praising Ezra […]

Screw the Pooch.

Who can resist such a lovely and slightly naughty-sounding expression? It’s well known from The Right Stuff, but where did it originate? Ben Zimmer tells the story (or as much of it as can be found) at Slate: Searching for clues, I noticed that the entry for the expression on Wiktionary had been anonymously edited […]

leafy

David Cameron and his house in 'leafy' Holland ParkDaily Express Brits sometimes tell me that the problem with American politics is that the system of checks and balances, with the separate executive and legislative branches, means that changes are hard to make. Show More Summary

91 of the Best Movies and TV Shows from Around the World

Foreign language movies are a fantastic way to learn a language. They’re not just entertaining, but they expose you to authentic usage of your target language, help you with listening practice, and give you an inside view of anotherShow More Summary

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