Archives for July 2012


And so we reach the present. I hope everyone has enjoyed the extended wallowing in the LH past as much as I have; I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the excellent people at Insider Hosting, who have kept this blog running smoothly since 2003—just today they saved me from a bandwidth overrun with impressive celerity. And of course many thanks to all of you, sine quibus non. I end with a mise en abyme.
X: 2011-12
Boym on Poshlost. An ever-fascinating concept.
Lipsi. An enjoyable discussion of Kindles, East German dances, and the Beatles.
The Petty Monarchs Within Us. A great quote and an interesting discussion of kinglets, with an excursus on Norwegian.
Barzakh, Hurqalya, Alam al-Mithal. Discussion of those obscure Arabic terms, plus an interesting back-and-forth about science and religion.
What I Think About Hofstadter. Thread features other people’s thoughts about Hofstadter, Wittgenstein, etc., not to mention jamessal’s colloquy with himself.
Der Alte Fritz on the Awful German Language. An enjoyable discussion of languages, verse, and Joseph Beuys.
Moot. From an ambiguous adjective to the vagaries of memory.
Ignorant Blathering at the New Yorker. Storms and tempests in teapots, the queen’s accent, Garrigus Carraig’s new monicker, and human relatedness, inter alia.
Ten Years of Languagehat: X. In which I end with a mise en abyme.


IX: 2010-11
Kotlovan. I look forward to reading this wonderful book again.
A Draft of Mandelstam. My translation spawned the longest LH thread ever.
The Bookshelf: Cognitive Poetics and Cultural Memory. Mikhail Gronas’s first book was terrific; I can’t wait for his next.
Wonderful Live Starlets. My amusement at a typo led to a very interesting discussion.
The Affirmative Action Empire. My final post on this superb book; links to the preceding three.
Mimesis. Discussion of Auerbach and pronunciation.
Collegium. Another long and winding thread.
Buddhavacana. Much ado about ambiguity.
Dudine. Dudes and baseball.


VIII: 2009-10
War and Peace: The Summing Up. How does Tolstoy do it?
Book. I translated a Bunin story; in the words of AJP, “NOBODY expects the Language Hat commenters!!!”
Algernon. Long thread discussing the Bayeux tapestry, inter alia.
La Fange du macadam. My praise of Berman gave rise to the usual meandering conversation, involving reinforced concrete, penguins, and Spanish words for “computer,” as well as marc’s in-thread translation of a Chukovsky poem.
Petersburg: Tomtoms and Butterflies. My final report on one of the great novels of the last century.
The People of Semika. The last of my reports on the worst translation I’ve ever read; don’t miss the previous ones linked therein.
Andrei Voznesensky, RIP. A nice thread about a fine poet, and I’d forgotten about the obit I wrote for the Fortnightly Review.
Somewhere a Dog Barked. I still get e-mails from people sending me new examples of this immortal trope.


VII: 2008-09
Repetition in Tolstoy. One of my personal favorites.
Citroen. One of those long and unpredictable threads, this one featuring Dorothy Sayers and a culinary-poetic war involving Rösti and roti.
Stridden. Much difference of opinion about past participles.
Sorites. A post about a philosophical term led to a discussion of architecture (and to AJP starting “a file on my computer to download the LH posts that are the most interesting to me”).
Lingonberry. Over 150 comments about berries (as well as lefse, lutefisk, and other things).
I Tie My Hat. A great Emily Dickinson poem leads to a long discussion of shawls, scarves, and “the whole nine yards,” inter alia.
OHEL on Webster’s Third. The last of my posts on The Oxford History of English Lexicography.
Giraffe. People seemed to enjoy this translation.
Beckwith: Barbarians and Modernism. The last of my posts on Empires of the Silk Road: A History of Central Eurasia from the Bronze Age to the Present, a wonderful book despite my complaints here.
In the Land of Invented Languages. Fun stuff.


VI: 2007-08
Upstate Pronunciations. Gotta have at least one weird-pronunciation post; they’re always popular. Don’t forget, Shawangunk is “Shongum”!
Modulo. Very educational.
Pace. Over a hundred comments on this inoffensive little word!
Etymology in Proust. This complaint/query got some amazingly thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.
More Translation Wars. In which I complain about Pevear and Volokhonsky (and Sam Tanenhaus of the NYT).
Normal. A complex word history.
Carrick. An obscure word produced a great discussion, worth it just to learn about the brilliant Boodberg, who destroyed all his manuscripts.
Proust: The Summing Up. First off, the book is too damn long.
Pushkin and Nabokov. Bathrobe found this detailed analysis tedious, but I remain unrepentant.
Chakobsa. The secret language of Circassian hunters, with much useful and entertaining discussion.


V: 2006-07
Language Help Needed. And boy, did I get it! Some very informative comments.
Grr. In which I trash another bad book, and praise Trotsky.
The Dustbin of History. N.N. Sukhanov, an interesting guy.
Nikolai Fedorov. Another interesting guy, who thought vegetables were wiser than people and language began as an attempt to communicate with the dead fathers in the sky.
Tabellion. A classic thread!
Local Memory. On my hatred for changed street names; thread includes this exchange: “What’s a ‘scad’?” “It’s another word for an oodle.”
Circumcellion. Another great thread.
Konstantin Leontiev. Still another interesting guy: diplomat, immoralist, monk, and “the only genuine literary critic of his time.”


Before I go to the greatest hits, let me just say what a sorrow it is to click on the links to all those great blogs I’ve mentioned over the years and get “Site not found.” I miss them all, and I wish it were easier for people to keep their archives online so at least we could have the pleasure of reading them. Virtual lifetimes are even shorter than real-world ones.
IV: 2005-06
Muskogean and Lamb’s-quarters. A great discussion of Native American languages, foodstuffs, and plant names.
Alternate Nobels. Prompted an enjoyable discussion (kicked off by an intemperate Patrick White fan).
It’s Never That Simple. The complexities of Indonesia and the ways its history has been misunderstood.
Rutabaga/Bryukva. Much edifying discussion of root vegetables.
Dixon: The Word for Dog. A fascinating linguistic coincidence and a wide-ranging thread involving dingoes, quokkas, eggplants, and who knows what all.
The Multifarious Aubergine. An eggplant post inspired by the Dixon one.
Smoking Your Own. The fate of Bakhtin’s masterpiece.
Secret Languages of Hate. What languages do your relatives speak when they don’t want others to understand?
The Language of Command. One of those posts that changed the way I look at language and the world.


III: 2004-05
The Hazy Yon. I go Pogo.
Amherst. Herriman and Dickinson.
Opodeldoc. Who can resist a word like that?
Sharawaggi. Another excellent word.
Naglfar. Sailing the Edda seas.
Galbik, Passe-dix, Passage. In which I investigate obscure games of chance.
Divan. A complicated word, an enjoyable thread.
Q.Pheevr on ‘Butterfly.’ Another vastly entertaining thread, with input from both an annoyed Dr. Reinhold Aman, King of Curse Words, and Teju Cole, who managed to post as both elck and Abdul-Walid.


II: 2003-04
The Last Samurai. I still feel this way about the book.
Rdiaeng. I was one of the early sources for this meme, and it got me my first heavy influx of readers.
Tzetzes. Medieval multilingual fun.
The Language Wars. Long and full of ambivalence.
May Have. Interesting discussion of a usage that still bothers me.
Filling the Goblet. Gilbert Seldes and the “minor” arts.
Exercice de Style. I’m proud of this one.
Peaches in Cluj. A classic.
Accents and History. Bile about Brewer.
More Bad Writing. Bile about Winchester.
Chukovsky on Change. And its followup Chukovsky on Change II.


Inspired by’s 10th anniversary post (“just for the hell of it, some of my favorite posts from the last ten years”), I’ll spend ten days posting some of mine, covering a period from August to July for each day (since the blog started at the end of July in 2002). Some posts will be included for their own sake, others because of the commentary they inspired (I hope to include everyone’s favorite long, chatty discussions, but feel free to mention any you want to make sure I don’t miss). If you want comments opened on any of them, let me know and I’ll be glad to do so; otherwise, feel free to discuss them here.
Pushkin, Nabokov, Afghanistan. In which I catch Nabokov in a schoolboy howler. (I should note here that for the first year, many of the comments have disappeared, which is the main reason I finally left Blogspot, even though it was free.)
David Foster Wallace demolished. In which I tear Tense Present to shreds.
Purity vs. History. In which I mourn the tearing of the Acropolis to shreds, or rather its reduction to bare rock. (Followups: Purity vs. History 2, Purity vs. History 3, Purity vs. History 4.)
What Happened to ‘Thou’? I learned a lot from this discussion.
Truth, Lies, and Ogoneks. I’m still fascinated by the issues discussed here.
On Translating Names. Still an interesting topic.
Fish Story. The fish spoke Hebrew and died.
Black Sun in Mandelshtam. I worked hard on this.
The Truth About Almost Dying. What is truth?
The Fantasy of Understanding. Followed by a long Steiner quote in a comment by Jonathon Delacour, whom I miss.
Black Holes of Self-cancellation. Gordian knots of literature.