A nearly monosyllabic (in Italian) statement about the state of the world in 1529. Language Log » Filosofia monosillabica (upenn.edu) My attempt at a translation: Those who can, don’t want toThose who want to, can’tThose who know how, don’tThose who do, don’t know howAnd thus the world goes badly Pedants’ corner My translation commits an…… Continue reading The world in 1529
Academics often use long words. Must they always do so? To make a point, the economist Paul Samuelson once wrote a tour de force of a paper, ending with the following remarkable punchline: No need to say more. I’ve made my point. And, save for the last word, have done so in prose of but…… Continue reading Must profs always use long words?
I entered my translation of this poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) for the 2015 Stephen Spender Prize. The entry includes my commentary on the translation. Translation Over hilltops, In treetops, Hardly a sigh. No birdsong in the forest, Your place of rest Is nigh. German original Wandrers Nachtlied 2 (Ein Gleiches) Über allen Gipfeln…… Continue reading Song of a Wanderer at Night (2)
Curious update on the warning signs I remember from many European train journeys in the 70s and 80s. Now the English and German versions still warn us not to lean out of the window: Nicht Hinauslehnen It is dangerous to lean out. Though I’m fairly sure the English version used to be more direct, something…… Continue reading Leaning out of windows
The Scandinavian Languages are members of the Germanic family within the broader family of Indo-European languages. The ancestral language, North Germanic (Common Scandinavian), began to divide from the Germanic group around 500-800 CE and then to split into East Scandinavian (the Kingdom of Denmark, the southern two thirds of Sweden and adjacent parts of Norway)…… Continue reading The Scandinavian languages
UK news organisations have reported the outcome of a centuries-long dispute about how to pronounce the name of the river 10th longest river in the UK. People in Northampton pronounce the name Nene as Nen. People in Peterborough pronounce the same written form Neen. The croquet teams in the two towns decided to use their…… Continue reading How do you say the name of that river?
The data protection revolution of the last few years has revealed two shocking things. The first shock was that most websites collect a staggering number of pieces of data for an astonishing number of different commercial interests. We suspected things were bad, but we never knew just how bad. In the early days after new…… Continue reading “Legitimate interest” is nerdview
My translation of this poem by Andrey Voznesensky (1933-2010) was commended by the judges of the Joseph Brodsky/Stephen Spender Prize 2014. archive.stephen-spender.org/2014_brodsky_prize/2014_brodsky_commended_PC.htmlMy submission also included the commentary that follows. Translation I am Goya!a crow — my foe — swooped on the barren field,and gouged craters in the globes of my eyes.I am grief.I givevoice to…… Continue reading I am Goya
Varning, vi bits. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Some odd things about this sign though. Why is the second language a Scandinavian language, not a more widely spoken one?Why does only the English version feel the need to specify that the vicious creatures are parrots? Of the others, only French even mentions birds. The…… Continue reading Varning, vi bits!
Talking a few days ago about reopening society after the lockdown, Boris Johnson said he was cautiously optimistic. Coming back to that topic last week, he said that he was now ‘even more cautiously optimistic’. He probably meant to say that he was now even more optimistic, but his careless phrasing was ambiguous. His words…… Continue reading Even more cautiously optimistic