Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

Don’t ask!

January 31, 2021

Today’s morning name, but it comes with crucial context. The Don’t ask! in question is not the neutral use of the negative imperative, advising the addressee not to ask someone about something (Don’t ask them about the ducks in the kitchen; that just makes them crazy), but instead is a formula of Yiddish-influenced English, normally used only by (American) Jews (or gentiles culturally close to this community), when someone has in fact just asked about the matter in question (the tsuris tsores ‘troubles’); the speaker doesn’t go on to avoid this sensitive matter, but instead embraces it, launching into kvetching ‘complaining’ about it.

The formula Don’t ask!  then serves as an announcement — a kind of alarm bell, if you will — that the speaker is about to go off on a (perhaps extended) kvetch.

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Time, and intellectual community

January 7, 2021

In the latest (December 2020) issue of the journal Language (vol. 96, no. 4), Brian Joseph’s “What is time (and why should linguists care about it)?”, an article that originated as his presidential address at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) annual meeting in New Orleans on 4 January 2020. The article (abstract below) combines broad humanistic scholarship with fine-grained philological and dialectological research on the Greek language.

Meanwhile, the article is thick with thanks to all sorts of people, a characteristic that is not just personal niceness — though in some cases it is certainly that — but reflects a view about the nature of intellectual community.

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The news for gay penguins

October 24, 2020

From reader BJP on 10/22, from The Cut website “There’s Drama in the Queer Penguin Community” by Amanda Arnold on 10/22/20:

Drama is afoot in the Dutch queer penguin community after two gay lovers with a reputation for trouble stole an entire nest of eggs from a neighboring lesbian couple at the same zoo.

Within the queer penguin community at large, fostering eggs is relatively common: On multiple occasions, zoos and aquariums have gifted unhatched eggs to gay and lesbian couples exhibiting behavior that suggests they’re desperate for a chick, like building mock nests out of pebbles. But rather than demanding the same of their caretakers, one pair of African penguins at the DierenPark zoo in Amersfoort instead took the matter into their own claws by snatching eggs from two mothers-to-be, according to DutchNews.nl. The conniving boys have since been sharing caregiving duties, taking turns keeping the eggs warm and foraging for fish.

I know, I know, guys just take whatever they want.

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Latinx

September 22, 2020

From the Vox site “Latina, Latino, or LatinX? Here’s how the term came about: The gender-neutral term that’s supposed to be for everyone, well, isn’t” by Terry Blas on 10/23/19

The occasion for this posting is a net conference yesterday on latinx — referring to an orthographic form; also to its various pronunciations by speakers of Spanish; and especially to its choice as an racial/ethnic/cultural (self-)descriptor.

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More for the birds

September 5, 2020

Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky arrived this morning with a collection of astonishing bird-related birthday presents for me: a ground-hugging bird bath, a Water Wiggler for the bird bath, and a hanging metal mesh bird feeder in the shape of a penguin. (There’s always something penguin-related.)

None of these is a standard item for the yard or patio, but Elizabeth has been cultivating birds in her own backyard and now knows a lot about bird gear. (Oddly, though she lives only about six blocks from me, she has bird visitors I do not: hummingbirds, chickadees, and parakeets, in particular).

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tantrum

August 30, 2020

Today’s morning name. So obviously Latin, a 2nd-declension neuter noun. But apparently not; instead it’s a mystery.

OED2 on tantrum:

Etymology: Origin unascertained.
colloquial.
An outburst or display of petulance or ill-temper; a fit of passion. Frequently in plural. Now often spec. a fit of bad temper in a young child.
[1st cite: 1714 E. Verney Let. 30 Oct. in M. M. Verney Verney Lett. (1930) II. xxi. 18 Our lady has had some of her tanterums as Vapors comeing out etc. Then: 1754 S. Foote Knights  ii. 41 None of your Fleers!..Your Tantrums! You are grown too head-strong and robust for me.]

fleers? From NOAD:

verb fleer: [no object] literary laugh impudently or jeeringly: he fleered at us. noun archaic an impudent or jeering look or speech. ORIGIN late Middle English: probably of Scandinavian origin and related to Norwegian and Swedish dialect flira ‘to grin’

Etymology occasionally throws up mysteries like this one. If someone now wants to search collections of texts from the period, they might find some clues as to its source. It’s even possible that the noun doesn’t have an ordinary etymology, but was a mock-Latin invention. Whatever; ya gotta know the territory.

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Hola Queridx

August 28, 2020

Back on 3/4 on Facebook, from Peruvian linguist Ernesto Cuba, with a photo of him

[Cuba phrase] con mi queridx Iván Villanueva Jordán, traductor queer … lingüistica marica


(#1) Ernesto (right) with his Peruvian student Iván (who’s studied drag queens in Lima)

(Google at the time didn’t try to translate queridx but translated lingüistica marica as ‘faggot linguistics’)

Cuba’s queridx posting led me to discover Dario Cocimano’s song “Hola Queridx” from his 2018 Digno album —

(#2)

— and so to query Cuba about the linguistic usages involved.

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The Pierogi Western

July 24, 2020

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro takes us to a campfire in the Old West:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

A somewhat goofy variant of the Spaghetti Western, with a different starch — so Polish (or, more generally, Slavic) rather than Italian.

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Fear of furniture

July 23, 2020

Yesterday’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, a Psychiatrist strip (Wayno’s title: “Out of Frame”):


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)

And now we’re in the world of phobias, extreme or irrational fears of or aversions to particular things. People are exceptionally fond of finding or inventing unusual phobias — and, correspondingly, of finding or inventing unusual philias (attachments, especially sexually fetishistic attachments, to particular things).

Fear of furniture, as it turns out, is real but rare. There is even a celebrity afflicted with it.

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Duolingo’s Latin cheese

June 20, 2020

From Mike Pope on Facebook yesterday, this Duolingo exercise:


(#1) Mike’s note: “Duolingo is really great for learning those phrases you need every day”; word by word: ‘Marcus cheese greatly smells’ (with verb-final syntax)

A little hymn to Marcus as a cheesy comestible:

Marcus smells greatly of cheese

ripe, redolent of cheddar, his
pubic bacteria broadcasting his
manscent to any intimate nose, a
deeply tasty hunk, serve him up
with a young cabernet

Well then: some Latin, and some reflections on cheese and male sweat.

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