Some of my favorite blogs are updated so rarely I can go weeks without checking them; recently three such have turned up with excellent posts I want to share.
1) Over at bulbulovo, the post may starts with a photo of an ad that plays on nostalgia for Socialist Realist images and goes on to one that says (in Slovak) “May is all about LOVE” with the last word in English… except that it’s spelled out in gold coins, and it so happens that love is also the Romanes word for ‘money.’ From there he segues into a discussion of Romanes loan words in Slovak. (One thing that puzzled me was his transcription of the Romanes word as “['lɔvɛ] or ['lɔːvɛ]“; in most dialects, the stress would be on the final syllable, and I’m not sure whether his stress is for the Slovak loan word or whether Slovak dialects of Romanes have taken on initial stress under the influence of Slovak.)
2) Dick & Garlick had been quiescent since November, but I’ve learned not to give up on it, and more posts started appearing in April (though I just noticed them yesterday). The latest is my favorite: Automatic Hinglish, which points out that “Google Translate now offers translation from English to Hindi and vice versa. … What’s surprising is that if you translate from English to Hindi and convert the results back to English, some of the original text is restored.”
Here’s a portion of Hamlet’s soliloquy in Google Hindi:
‘ Tis एक consummation
श्रद्धापूर्वक को wish’d. करने के लिए मौत की नींद के लिए.
नींद के स्वप्न को perchance करने के लिए: सॉफ्टवेयर, यही तो कठिनाई है!
That’s completely meaningless, of course. But feed this drivel to the Google translator, and it becomes Shakespeare again – with a few improvements.
‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to wish’d. To death for sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream: software, there’s the rub!
Software, there’s the rub: truer words have never been spoken.
3) I’m particularly embarrassed not to have noticed this for so long, because it starts with a plug for my book: Polyglot Vegetarian had a post back on April 27 called Sowing Cumin and Basil that began “The American edition of Uglier Than a Monkey’s Armpit, co-authored by Steve at LanguageHat, still isn’t available, as far as I know. [Too damn true—LH] But being impatient, I went ahead and got the UK edition…” MMcM, the blogger, is inspired to write about curses, some involving cumin and basil, with the usual multilingual quotes (Greek, Latin, Persian, Old Norse, Hebrew, and Spanish, inter alia); his erudition is always worth diving into and splashing around in, with the warning that it may make you hungry.
(The title of this entry is of course the plural of rara avis ‘rare bird’; the odd thing is that Merriam-Webster gives both /rer-ǝ-’ā-vǝs/ and /rär-ǝ-’ä-wǝs/ for the singular, but only /rär-ī-’ä-wās/ for the plural. If you use the traditional anglicized /rer-ǝ-’ā-vǝs/ for the singular, aren’t you going to use /rer-ē-’ā-vēz/ for the plural? I do, anyway.)