Archive for the ‘Languages’ Category

S Novym Godom!

January 1, 2023

🐇 🐇 🐇 greeting the new month and the new year, with Happy New Year! greetings in Russian, on a postcard showing a polar bear and a penguin — symbols of cold polar places, hence of winter — about to shake hands on a globe:


(#1) The Soviet Visuals Facebook page identifies it merely as: “Happy New Year!” Soviet postcard, 1960 (hat tip to Dennis Lewis on 12/31)

Soviet Visuals is a FB site for the Stratonaut shop, which sells all sorts of items from, or harking back to, the Soviet period of Russian history. Alas, in two hours of searching, I couldn’t find #1 anywhere on the Stratonaut site, or anywhere else, for that matter. This is of some interest, because the imagery (the polar bear and penguin) and the apparent message (a wish for unity and amity throughout the world) would be unsurprising in an American card for the Christmas / New Year season, but looks unparalleled in a Russian context — where I can’t find any polar bears or penguins at all, and where the iconography is deeply Russocentric (in one way or another) rather than universalist.

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Droit du Chili

December 29, 2022

From Ryan Tamares on Facebook on 12/19:

In this morning’s work queue:

(Ryan is Head of Collection Services at Stanford Law School, overseeing the cataloging, processing, and preservation of the Law Library’s collection, so things like this come to him for cataloguing)

Then a FB exchange:

Jackie Koerber Magagnosc: Not law of the food, rats

AZ > JKM: I too was hoping for an authority on the law governing hot peppers, or perhaps the law governing spicy meat stews, but it was not to be.

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For Boxing / St. Stephen’s Day

December 26, 2022

Two things: Christmas dinner the day before, with a muzzled French dessert; and seasonal decoration by a callipygian young man wearing a big grin and virtually nothing else. (Warning: racy stuff in this second section, not to everyone’s taste.)

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Every meme is better with a pumpkin in it

November 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 (NOVEM! NOVEM! N-O-V spells VON! Von who? No, No, that’s Doctor Von Who! Doctor Von Who’s on first? Doctor Von Who’s on first of November, oh god this is where we came in)

Bob Eckstein’s charming cartoon-trope cartoon (a new cartoon for Halloween this year @AltaJournal, also posted yesterday on Facebook along with a trick-or-treating story; and note that National Pumpkin Day went by on 10/26):


(#1) Three cartoon memes (I will no longer attempt to distinguish memes from tropes, given the extraordinary variation in the usage of the two terms): Sisyphus, Desert Island, Seeker and Seer

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Google translates

October 29, 2022

I’ve been sleeping most of my days away, not happily, so not advancing on raunchy appetizer boards and the like. Thanks to Hana Filip, reporting on Google Translate, for today’s Mary, Queen of Scots Not Dead Yet posting.

Today on Facebook, from Hana:

Discussion (somewhat edited):
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Pingu Pongu

October 17, 2022

Not remotely what I intended to post about today, but it figuratively leapt from the pages of yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, figuratively shrieking directly at me:

PENGUIN LANGUAGE! PENGUIN LANGUAGE!

Well, as it turns out, sort of penguin, sort of language. The sort-of-penguin is Pingu, a claymation tv character. The sort-of-language is Pingu’s variety of  grammelot, a performance art form of “speaking without words” (pronunciation note: in English, /ˈɡræməlat/).

In the Magazine’s Letter of Recommendation section, a piece by Gabriel Rom: on-line 10/11 with the title “This Kids’ Show Proves the Wisdom of Gibberish”; in print 10/16 with the title “Pingu”; and both with the subtitle: ““Pingu” teaches everyone, even adults, to find meaning in made-up language”


(#1) Pingu, a creature of affective utterance and non-verbal communication (illustration by Niv Bavarsky)

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Zhock jocks at play

October 5, 2022

In today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, the (somewhat idealized, but real) world of male athletes intersects with the (fictive) world of stereotypical Frenchmen via an imperfect pun:


(#1) In both worlds at once: the object that is a (symbolic) baseball bat in the sports world and also a (real) baguette in the French world (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

The elements of my titular phrase Zhock jock (admittedly, a play on shock jock, though the cartoon isn’t about disc jockeys — jocks — or provocative, offensive humor — shock — or provocative, offensive talk radio — shock jocks): Jacques [žak] (with initial fricative, in both French and English, though with different phonetic details in the two languages) vs. jock [ǰak] (with initial affricate, in English). So we get these three hybrid guys, flashing signifiers from both the French Zhock world — details below — and the (American) jock world (football, soccer, baseball) — cleated shoes, football jersey, padded pants, sports shorts, baseball cap.

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All about /aj/: the trisyllables

October 4, 2022

The Zippy strip of 9/29 interjects:


(#1) The strip is all about eyeglasses (with the wonderful name Thelma Nesselrode as a bonus), but this posting is about oh!, interjections / yeah!, exclamations / and, like, discourse markers and stuff

So, what’s up with eye-yi-yi!? This is presumably an orthographic representation of an English exclamation /aj aj aj/, with the accent pattern /àj aj áj/, and pronounced as a single phonological word /àjajáj/. In fact, I’m aware of — and at least an occasional user of — three English exclamations /àjajáj/, with three syllables: one a borrowing from (Latino) Spanish; one in Yinglish (taken from Yiddish); and one in PDE (Pennsylvania Dutch English, taken from Pennsilfaanisch Deitsch, that is, Pennsylvania Dutch / German). (There are probably more, in other German-based varieties of English, in particular.) They have somewhat different contexts of use and a wide variety of ad hoc spellings, though ay-ay-ay seems to be the closest there is to a conventional spelling for all three of them (my childhood spelling for the PD and PDE exclamation was ai-ai-ai / ai ai ai, and it’s still the only one that looks right to me).

So: something about the range of the phenomena in this exclamatory domain, with special attention to my personal history. In this posting, just about the exclamatory triples, but folding in the de facto national ballad of Mexico, “Cielito Lindo”, and some Texas klezmer music.

Then, in a later posting (bear with me, my life is over-full), my discovery that OED3 has relatively recent entries for the interjections ai, aie, and ay, and my subsequent disappointment in the content of these entries — as against, say, the rich OED3 entries for the interjections oh and ah. And finally, some aimless wandering about in the world of interjections, exclamations, discourse markers, and related phenomena.

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Armen Zakharyan

October 1, 2022

🐇 🐇 🐇 welcome, October (even though we know it ends in a celebration of death)

This posting is a report on an amazing body of work by Armen Zakharyan, about Russian literature in relation to world literatures, providing literary analysis both subtle and surprising, probing the range of lives as revealed in literary works, and directly and passonately engaging with hard questions about how to live a moral life and negotiate through a world of evil. Until a few days ago, I had no idea that such a thing existed, but then Vadim Temkin posted a “Wow” notice on Facebook about a Zakharyan video, with this image and a link to the video:


(#1) The link to the YouTube video is here

The wisps of Russian I recalled from 1960 Princeton classes carried me far enough to recognize the slogan MAN WAR ART, but no further. I appealed to Vadim to explain his “Wow”. And got the wonderful response below, which I reproduce with only slight editing as a guest posting (Vadim is multilingual and multicultural in a way I could not imagine being, so it would have been insane for me to try to paraphrase or interpret his take on Zakharyan).

From here on this is Vadim, with occasional back-commentary from me in square brackets.

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The news for wieners

September 26, 2022

(Phallic preoccupations abound in this posting, sometimes in street language — I mean, look at the title above —  so some readers may want to skip over it)

Passed on by a friend on Facebook yesterday, this German grocery-store snapshot plus a joking double-entendre intro in English (together making what appears to be a a fast-spreading meme):


(#1) Hähnchenschnitten Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style chicken cutlets’ from the (German) Vossko company, the name of the product including the German phrase Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style’ — that is, prepared like Wiener SchnitzelWienerschnitzel); meanwhile, the English-language intro alludes to wiener art, in the sense ‘penis art’, referring to artworks in which penises are significant elements (or, in an hugely extended sense, to any artworks in which human penises are visible) — the label wiener art involving the (mildly racy) AmE sexual slang term wiener ‘penis’

German Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style’ (a) leads to English Wiener art ‘Viennese art’ (b) and then to four AmE slang uses of wiener art: (c) ‘sausage / frankfurter art’; (d) ‘dachshund art’; (e) ‘penis art’; (f) ‘weenie art’. All will be illustrated below.

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