Archives for November 2003


The University of Virginia Library has put online a page of links to Ovid’s Metamorphoses:

The first link directs users to a U.Va.-hosted version of the Latin text (apparently from Ehwald’s edition, ca. 1904), while the second points users to five English translations by Golding, Sandys, Garth, Brookes More, and Kline, and to six earlier editions of the Latin, the last two in html-format (1509, 1518, 1540, 1582, 1820, and 1892). The Ehwald Latin text and the 17th-c. Garth paraphrase are cross-linked so that users may browse or search both texts together; via the “New Window” links at the start of each book, you may now browse the Latin with Sandys‘ 1632 verse and Kline‘s modern prose rendering as well. The fourth link on this page is to our growing archive of Renaissance pictorial and textual responses to Ovid’s great poem, featuring several lavish cycles of Ovid illustrations and a wide range of ambitious Renaissance readings and reworkings in Latin, French, German, and English; click the icons and verse-links accessed through our Notes to view any text and image concurrently.

Once again the internet justifies its existence. (Via “thomas j wise“‘s post at MetaFilter.)


The trilingual blog Buscaraons (entries in English, French, and Catalan—separately, not as translations of each other) has a series of entries (in English) on onomatopoeia in Catalan (scroll down to 24.11.03 Onomatopedic sounds in Catalan, then up to 25.11.03 To bark and to quack in Catalan and 27.11.03 More Catalan onomatopedia: to meow and to mow).

To purr is very interesting. The verb, when it refers to a cat or engine, is roncar. This verb also means to snore. So Catalans hear purring and snoring as identical sounds.

Via Cinderella Bloggerfeller.


I was looking at the book Caviar by the delightfully named Inga Saffron when I was stopped cold by an excursus on the etymology of the word caviar. She found the OED’s etymology boring and confusing:

Of uncertain origin, found in Turkish as kha¯vya¯r; in Italian in 16th c. as caviale (whence 16th c. Fr. cavial, Sp. cavial, 16th c. Eng. cavialy), also as caviaro, whence Fr. and Pg. caviar. (‘It has no root in Turkish, and has not the look of a Turkish word. Redhouse in his MS. Thesaurus marks it as Italian-Turkish, looking upon it as borrowed from Italian.’ Prof. Ch. Rieu.)

and preferred the livelier approach of Demetrius J. Georgacas, a Greek scholar who (miracle of miracles!) thought that the word had to have a Greek source, despite the absence of any actual evidence.

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A story in today’s NY Times by Ralph Blumenthal reports on the research of linguists Jan Tillery and Guy Bailey, who are working on a National Geographic Society survey of Texas speech.

At the same time, the speech of rural and urban Texans is diverging, Dr. Bailey said. Texans in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio are sounding more like other Americans and less like their fellow Texans in Iraan, Red Lick or Old Glory.
Indeed, Dr. Tillery and Dr. Bailey wrote in a recent paper called “Texas English,” a new dialect of Southern American English may be emerging on the West Texas plains. It is not what a linguist might expect, they wrote, “but this is Texas, and things are just different here.”
The changes are being tracked by researchers for the two San Antonio linguists, who are working with scholars from Oklahoma State University and West Texas A&M in Canyon, outside Amarillo, under the sponsorship of the National Geographic Society. They divided Texas into 116 squares and are interviewing four native Texans spanning four age groups— from the 20’s to the 80’s, in each…

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A is red E is black I is white
D is green U is blue those are the
colors of the letters

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UNESCO publishes an Index Translationum on the web:

The Index Translationum is a list of books translated in the world, i.e. an international bibliography of translations. The data base contains cumulative bibliographical information on books translated and published in about one hundred of the UNESCO Member States since 1979 and totalling more than one 1,300.000 entries in all disciplines : literature, social and human sciences, natural and exact sciences, art, history and so forth. It is planned to update the work every quarter.
By publishing this list, to serve as a reference work, UNESCO provides the general public with an irreplaceable tool for making bibiographical inventories of translations on worldwide scale.

You can search it here. (Via Carob (not a blog).)


A nice little page by Peter Hilton: “People find it odd that I deliberately learn small bits of obscure languages, so I thought I’d explain why.” Short answer: to surprise people and make people smile, good things both. Found via MonkeyFilter, a sort of para-MetaFilter run by tracicle, who posted this along with many other excellent things.


Anybody who’s interested in mat (Russian cursing) and can read Russian should head over to this thread, where Avva and friends discuss the fine distinctions among uyeban, uyobok, zayoba, and other lively terms of abuse.


I’ve just run across an interesting series of threads at LINGUIST List on the topic of place names with and without “the.” It seems to have started with 3-892 (12 Nov 1992); I’ll give the threads in sequence, with a striking quote from each. From the first:

The discussion of the English place name meaning ‘hill hill hill’ reminded me of some name trivia from the Los Angeles area. One concerns ‘The La Brea Tar Pits’. I’m told ‘La Brea’ means ‘the tar’ in Spanish; if so, this name is actually ‘the the tar tar pits’. And when the Angels baseball team was ‘The Los Angeles Angels,’ it was literally called ‘the the angels angels.’

Then 3.904 (17 Nov 1992):

In regard to ‘The La Brea Tar Pits’ meaning ‘the the tar tar pits’, this reminds me of some Colorado forms I’ve seen: Table Mesa, i.e. ‘table table’; Casa del El Dorado (about the best one can do with this is “sic”); and The El Rancho Ranch, i.e., ‘the the ranch ranch’, the last with the same embedding observed in The La Brea Tar Pits.

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Hugh Kenner has died at 80. I’m not fond of literary criticism in general, but he was a master of the art, and his book The Pound Era should be read by anyone interested in American modernism. The NY Times obituary is too short, but has this nice sentence: “He wrote commandingly on everything from Irish poetry to geodesic math and Li’l Abner’s pappy (Lucifer Ornamental Yokum), to the Heath/Zenith Z-100 computer (one of which he built for himself and then wrote the user’s guide) and the animated cartoons of Chuck Jones.” (Thanks to Eric for the link.) I’m sure there will be much longer appreciations in the days to come, and I look forward to reading them; meanwhile, here‘s a very good interview (with Harvey Blume):

HB: I also want to allude to your enthusiasm for the Internet.
HK: It begins again with not being afraid of technology. I got a computer way back; I built a Heathkit. I played with it and learned more and more things I could do. And then it what it got to making connections over telephone wires, that was very interesting also. And it made for communication around my impaired hearing.

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