1) Here’s an example of why what I think of as the American use of should, exclusively to mean ‘ought to,’ is preferable to the traditional/U.K. use, in which it is also used in counterfactuals, the equivalent of American would. The first paragraph of Timothy Garton Ash’s NYRB review of several recent Günter Grass books begins:
Granted: he was a member of the Waffen-SS. But suppose that revelation had not overshadowed last year’s publication of Günter Grass’s memoir, like a mushroom cloud. What should we have made of Peeling the Onion? We should, I believe, have said that this is a wonderful book, a return to classic Grass territory and style, after long years of disappointing, wooden, and sometimes insufferably hectoring works from his tireless pen, and a perfect pendant to his great “Danzig trilogy” of novels, starting with The Tin Drum. That is what we should still say, first and last.
I’m reading along, mentally translating “What should we have made” to “What would we have made” and “We should, I believe, have said” to “We would, I believe, have said.” Then I get to the last sentence: “That is what we should still say, first and last.” I think this means “That is what we ought to say [even in present circumstances],” but after that barrage of counterfactual “should” it pulls the reader up short and forces a quick reanalysis. And I’m still not absolutely sure, thanks to that damnable ambiguity.
2) Naked Translations has an interesting post about the word artichoke, which goes back to Arabic al-ḫaršuf. Céline adds a remark about “the French expression avoir un cœur d’artichaut (to have an artichoke heart), which describes someone who falls in love with everything in sight” and adds the question “Am I right in thinking that a similarly colourful English equivalent doesn’t exist?” I think she is.
3) Anatol Stefanowitsch in Bremer Sprachblog has a post about an exhibition in Linz that the artist, Folke Tegetthoff, calls, in English, “Six Tales of Time”; Tegetthoff (an odd-looking name, by the way—I wonder where the stress goes?) explains: “An sich bin ich gegen Anglizismen und gegen die Verhunzung unserer sehr schönen, poetischen Sprache, aber ‚Sechs Geschichten über die Zeit‘ klingt technischer und holpriger” [‘I’m against anglicisms and the butchering of our very beautiful and poetic language, but “Sechs Geschichten über die Zeit” sounds technical and rough’]. Anatol provides a nice chart matching English legend/tale/story/history against German Legende/Sage/Märchen/Erzählung/Geschichte.
And now I must get back to packing…