found distractions

amuse us, o muse.
(a repost feed of my microblog at http://namakajiri.net/stream) at namakajiri.net
Sep 2 '14

These are some comments from students who have taken English 340, 341 and 346 in the past.

English 340: Intro to Old English

This course was challenging because I required a new interdisciplinary grammar to apply to a specialized topic. History, Anthropology, Language and Literature are all relevant to this study. As it was a project-driven course, we brought our individual talents to the class: Two students had an adventure in mead-making, one enthusiastic student reconstructed a lyre and presented a passionate performance of Beowulf, and many students made mock manuscripts.

— (via)

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Sep 1 '14
Dudo of St. Quentin records an encounter between a party of Danes and King Charles of the Frankish kingdom. In the presence of the king, the Danes were ordered to show their submission by kissing the foot of the king. The leader of the Danes refused. One of his followers complied. But, rather than kneeling to kiss the foot of King Charles, the Dane stood, grabbed the king’s foot, and lifted it up to the level of the Dane’s own head, dragging the king out of his seat and onto the floor. With the king held upside-down, the Dane kissed the foot.
— (via satw, who made a comic out of it)

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Sep 1 '14

Day 24: Kanji fail, “fascinating”, rain, umeshu, night walk

Today I noticed I misspelt my college name in the Japanese-style business card I prepared: rather than 「哲学文学人文科学部」, I wrote 「哲学文学人文科学部」. I have like 500 of those things and have been giving them to everyone. People have been kind not to mention the mistake to the self-titled kanji researcher.

Unsettling, nervous dreams. Finally finished report. We got more funds from the Foundation.

I spent the hot part of the day studying, and binge-watching Hyōgemono online. The political powers of Rikyū get ever more ridiculously unbelievable in that series. I dined instant food in the room.

The postperson brought the New Tea Ceremony Art Notes I had ordered from Amazon. It’s alluringly dense & shock-full of neat stuff, but the Japanese is still a bit beyond my level.

I tried to find out what’s the Japanese dub for Spock’s “fascinating”: apparently it’s Miwakuteki da. I wondered whether that can capture the cold, dispassionate inflections of “fascinating” – the dictionary says 「理性を失わせること」 (“things that make one part with one’s reason”), which is about 100% totally wrong, but it’s a new word, & I had no intuitions to guide me.

Strong but short rain by the evening. Then the low-hitting warm setting sun, then, again, menacing cumulonimbi and howling wind, quickly gone. The cloudy rainless windless summer days are tedious and disagreeable, but the electric rain atmosphere puts me in a good mood.

At night I caught up overdue homework, housework, laundry, posts etc. so as to be free tomorrow.

Wrote postcard to daughter, in a careful Italic-style hand. Last time I saw her she was just starting to learn minucule, so it shouldn’t be too hard, but I added a concise majuscule-to-italic table just in case. It was surprisingly hard to find tasteful postcards; I opted for urban ones featuring the neon-lit Oosakan night streets. I thought of sending omamoris to a couple friends but didn’t figure out what sort of envelope or small box should I put them in.

At night I had umeshu – Choya “Sarari to shita Umesyu”, in a cute glass jar. It’s very much delicious and cost a mere ¥200. I get that pleasurable optimal alcohol buzz. I’m so totally buying more of this.

I went out for a random walk, and passed by a colorful ramen car. Some boats tingled in the breeze; the water waved beautifully after the storm, light reflections brushing their tips. I tried once more to visit the neighbor seaside sushi place, but it closes early. I resigned myself with the kombini: even then, a common sushi tray has such variety that I’d never tried half of those fish, and it cost just $4. In Brazil each single pair of hosomaki would cost that, and all we ever get are maguro (akami), salmon, and nameless white fish.

Still hungry at the beach I had chicken leg, and some sort of matcha/tapioca pudding for dessert. I also stocked on foodstuffs, various wagashi, and summer-edition cheesecake-flavored Pocky. I met a couple sweethearts from the Center at beach, and another student while returning. I caught a whiff of fragrance, and followed the scent; it brought me to a small tree blossoming in pink, urchin-like flowers (some sort of calliandra?), all seemingly happy after the rain.

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Aug 29 '14

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Aug 28 '14
The children of the poor are scared of math and English. If you can put up a statue of the goddess of English, then the fears are allayed. Fear of English will go away.

There could have been a black temple here. The entrance might have said ‘Paradise Lost’ after John Milton’s poem about man’s disobedience and ouster from the Garden of Eden. […] The temple was meant to celebrate the outcastes, the fallen—Paradise Lost would be a refuge. Within its walls, Dalits [India’s “untouchables”] would chant ‘ABCD’ and solve mathematical equations. They would denounce other gods and goddesses who perpetuate caste barriers.

The goddess wore a hat, a gown, and had gold hair. She looked like a Statue of Liberty knock-off. Chandra Bhan Prasad, the man who created her, says there were modifications made to give the new goddess her own mythology. The Goddess of English held a keyboard and a pen. She was atop a computer on the screen of which was the chakra of the Buddhist faith. She also held the Constitution of India to cement her bond with the Dalit community because Dr BR Ambedkar, the Dalit scholar and leader, was its founding father.

[…] This was Paradise Lost. They would regain it. But nothing happened. The English goddess went as suddenly as she came. […] The expensive black granite that was bought for construction of the temple lies around unused. Rain pours down, washing away the dirt, and the stones glisten again. A dog seeks shelter in the old office from the rain. This is where the goddess had been moved after the police came to Banka and ordered that construction be stopped.

– Chinki Sinha, The English Goddess Who Went Away (via languagelog)

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 28 '14

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Aug 27 '14

Crane, heron, stork

I keep confusing these fellows: Kanji Japanese English Family Latin Portuguese 鶴 tsuru crane Gruidæ grus grou 鷺 sagi heron Ardeidæ ardea garça 鸛 kō-no-tori stork Ciconiidæ ciconia cegonha An egret (Jap. shirasagi) is basically a white heron, especially those who develop fine plumes during mating season. The heron/egret distinction is cultural, not biological. The…

Crane, heron, stork was originally published on The Nanbanjin Nikki

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Aug 26 '14

The madness of the hour takes the metrical shape of trochees, everybody writes trochaics, talks trochaics, and think in trochees. People talk trochees in the street; merchants ask the price of raw material in that strain, and even ladies retail the scandal of the day in trochaic measure. […]

“By the way, the rise in Erie
Makes the bears as cross as thunder.”
“Yes sir-ree! And Jacob’s losses,
I’ve been told, are quite enormous…”

gossip column, November 24, 1855:

The madness of the hour takes the metrical shape of trochees, everybody writes trochaics, talks trochaics, and think in trochees. People talk trochees in the street; merchants ask the price of raw material in that strain, and even ladies retail the scandal of the day in trochaic measure. […]

“By the way, the rise in Erie
Makes the bears as cross as thunder.”
“Yes sir-ree! And Jacob’s losses,
I’ve been told, are quite enormous…”

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 26 '14


Even disregarding the (literally) awesome drawing process, this is easily the best portrait of Nanny Ogg I’ve ever seen, & captures the spirit of the character perfectly.

Even disregarding the (literally) awesome drawing process, this is easily the best portrait of Nanny Ogg I’ve ever seen, & captures the spirit of the character perfectly.

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 26 '14

[…] And the shocking fact that X revealed to me had nothing to do with sex, money, power or even real estate. Believe it or not, it was a secret about poetry.

According to X, English graduate students can’t scan. At least, X told me, elite graduate programs don’t require students to learn this skill, or test whether or not they have it. “I bet that two thirds of them wouldn’t know a line of iambic pentameter if it bit them on the butt”, to quote X more exactly.

[…after some faculty-level examples] So I’m still not sure about the students, but I’ll accept this as prima facie evidence that there might be a problem with the professors.

prima facie evidence that there might be a problem with the professors.

If you can’t scan either, well now you can! Mark has kindly provided a short, linguistically informed guide, and also sexy old Zwicky.

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 24 '14
(via)

(via)

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 22 '14

All the time I was in Brazil, stories kept surfacing about “funny languages” spoken in various parts of the country. Gnierre and his colleagues claimed to have discovered fossilized remnants of some sort of Afro-Portuguese right there in the outskirts of São Paulo. There was said to be a town on the Bolivian border where everyone, black, white, and the fifty-two varieties between, spoke some kind of Creole as a secret language. There was allegedly a village high in the Serra do Mar where linguistics researchers had been driven off by men with shotguns. I counted as many as sixteen such stories, but my teaching load prevented me from investigating any of them. And to the best of my knowledge, no one’s investigated them since.

[…] we rented a ratty little apartment in the great wall of high-rises that hangs over the beach at Copacabana, and if you leaned far enough out over our tiny balcony early in the morning you could see the beams of the rising sun touch the crown of the Sugarloaf. But linguistically speaking I was spinning my wheels, and wasn’t sorry when the six months came to an end and we took off for another summer school…

— – Derek Bickerton, Bastard Tongues

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 21 '14
Iūlia filia Iūliī est. Quī sunt filiī Iūliī? Filiī Iūliī sunt Mārcus et Quīntus. Mārcus, Quīntus Iūliaque sunt trēs līberī. Līberī sunt filiī filiæque.

“I have three free-ones – one son and two daughters”…

(Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata)

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 21 '14
Olaf, who was called Olaf the White, was styled a warrior king. He was the son of King Ingjald, the son of Helgi, the son of Olaf, the son of Gudred, the son of Halfdan Whiteleg, king of the Uplands (in Norway).

styled a warrior king. He was the son of King Ingjald, the son of Helgi, the son of Olaf, the son of Gudred, the son of Halfdan Whiteleg, king of the Uplands (in Norway).

Óláfr hét herkonungr, er kallaðr var Óláfr hvíti.

Óláfr name:3s;PST warrior:king, and call:PTCP was Óláfr white.

Hann var sonr Ingjalds konungs Helgasonar, Óláfssonar, Guðröðarsonar, Hálfdanarsonar hvítbeins Upplendingakonungs.

He was son Ingjald:GEN king:GEN Helgi\GEN:son:GEN, Óláf:GEN:son:GEN, Guðröður\GEN:son:GEN Hálfdan:GEN:son:GEN white:leg:GEN uplands:GEN:king:GEN.

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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Aug 20 '14

Idiomatic usages of some vocabulary items: No matter how thoroughly you learn the grammar of literary Chinese, or how frequently you practice characters, there will always be some ways of using specific characters that you won’t be able to anticipate. Sometimes these usages aren’t even mentioned in dictionaries. You must be patient and pick up this information as you go along, and you must not get frustrated.

Case in point: The verb (”to die”) is normally intransitive (i.e., it doesn’t take a direct object—you can’t “die someone”). But in this lesson, it is followed by the direct object pronoun . Perhaps you might guess that should be interpreted as “to kill” in this case—but you would be wrong. In fact, can take as its object the person for whom one dies (in an act of loyalty); this is usually one’s ruler or lord.

– Rozer, A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese

有禮者,民畏之。
忠信者,士死之。

Those who have courtesy: the people awe them.
Those who are trusty&loyal: the gentleman dies them.

– Liu Xiang 劉向, The Garden of Stories 說苑

(Source: namakajiri.net)

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