TEN YEARS OF LANGUAGEHAT: I.

Inspired by Waxy.org’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.
2002-03
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.

Comments

  1. Kári Tulinius says:

    Congratulations on ten years of blogging goodness! I’ve read a lot of blogs in the past decade, and I’ve either stopped reading them or they’ve stopped existing, but since I first came across your blog, I’ve read every single post. I’ll enjoy traveling back in time to read your old entries. Thanks for keeping Languagehat going and always being interesting!

  2. Congratulations! 10 years is truly a staggering length of time for a blog of such quality.

  3. Yes, it’s hard for me to believe it’s been ten years. I can still see in my mind’s eye the Astoria apartment in which I googled “languagehat,” got no hits, and thought “OK, that’ll make a good name.”

  4. 10 YEARS! That’s a decade! I was there by your side the day you launched languagehat in that stuffy little office we shared. I remember you working diligently on L Hat on that iMac computer–working more heartily on the honesty of L Hat than you were the blatant lies we were being paid the big bucks to transform into “little white lies.” I know how seriously you’ve worked on languagehat over the years and I’m proud to see the “blessings” you’ve received for your hard work. You’ve exalted yourself to one of the top linguists in this “mean ole world.” As your 10 years of repeats prove. Did you really cause David Foster Wallace to give up the ghost?
    your fiend and compadre,
    thegrowlingwolf

  5. dearieme says:

    The decimal system is overrated. I’ll congratulate you on twelve.

  6. I’m sure glad you’re still carrying on carrying on.
    And thanks for making me feel much better about not getting up to Athens to see the Akropolis when my ship was in Piraeus on my ‘Mediterranean cruise’ 43 years ago. Now I can concentrate on how my heart soared when saw Poseidon’s temple on Sounion.

  7. In a month my seventh anniversary as a Hattic will arrive. This is the only daily blog I read now, and I go back and check for new comments religiously, sometimes more than once a day.

  8. Hat: I think it would be a Good Thing to just automatically reopen all the posts you mention as you mention them. Otherwise I’m going to be bombarding you with requests, so instead I ask (“and if that isn’t nice enough, I begs”) once for all.

  9. Looking at some of those old threads shows (1) how much some of those old topics come up again and again, but in more and more sophisticated form (2) how much the commentators have changed — more a community, in many ways probably more sophisticated, definitely with more to say!
    The blog has come a long way!
    Incidentally, I loved the Collins Library Entry on “English as she is spoke” (I don’t know if you’ve ever touched on this in the last decade):
    English As She Is Spoke by Jose da Fonseca & Pedro Carolino
    In 1855, Jose da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino sat down to write an English phrasebook for Portuguese students. There was just one problem: they didn’t know English. Even worse, they didn’t own an English-to-Portuguese dictionary. What they did have, though, was a Portuguese-to-French dictionary and a French-to-English dictionary. Perhaps the worst foreign phrasebook ever written, the resulting linguistic train wreck was first published in 1855 and became a classic of unintentional humor.
    Armed with Fonseca and Carolino’s guide, a Portuguese traveler could complain about his writing implements (“This pen are good for notting”), insult a barber (“What news tell me? all hairs dresser are newsmonger”), complain about the orchestra (“It is a noise which to cleave the head”), go hunting (“Let aim it! let make fire him!”), and consult a handy selection of truly mystifying Idiotisms and Proverbs (“Nothing some money nothing of Swiss.”) Mark Twain, prefacing an American edition, marveled of its “miraculous stupidities” that “Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.”

  10. Congratulations on 10 years!

  11. marie-lucie says:

    Félicitations! Ever since I discovered Language Hat through Language Log (I am not sure when – at least 5 years, I think), it has been by far my top blog, or virtual salon, both for reading and commenting. You as host, and the regulars here, are a wonderful set of virtual friends, smart, witty, knowledgeable about a wide array of topics and eager to learn more. Vive languagehat! May its shadow never diminish!

  12. I’ll just ape marie-lucie. Thanks and Congrats!

  13. jamessal says:

    Congratulations on the decade, my friend! Fittingly, just yesterday I found myself Googling sub specie aeternitatis, and for nowhere near the first time, while doing similar research, I found your post on it to be one of the very first hits. I should have remembered that one, actually, since it wasn’t that long ago and I even left a few comments; but the point is, you’ve made — and continue to make — your mark, sir, and a world in which that can happen can’t be all bad!

  14. “Based on your vituperative comments at my place, I’d say I struck a nerve. Basically, if you can’t distinguish between truth and fiction, nor find the truth in fiction or feel a need to have pointers and guideposts laid out for you, then you lack the powers of discrimination necessary to enjoy the written word. Joy probably doesn’t loom large in your worldview anyway.”
    Hat, have you by any chance mellowed?

  15. Yeah, I read that one too. I thought it would be a welcome jubilee present for me not to remark on it.
    Congratulations on ten years, Hat !

  16. It’s beautifully written. I wonder if Language’s genius would have made itself known in some other form if the blog medium hadn’t come along. Luckily we don’t have to worry. I can just see Language working in advertising. Ha ha ha. Perhaps Growling Wolf will write a Life of Hat. Who will play him in the movie?

  17. It is well-written, and he is irascible as an old shoe there. Very sympathetic, I find !

  18. marie-lucie says:

    Bathrobe: based on your vituperative comments …
    We don’t know what these were, but the responder was pretty vituperative himself.
    AJP: I wonder if Language’s genius would have made itself known in some other form if the blog medium hadn’t come along.
    I second this! I am sure he would have written something, but the blog medium is perfect for him, and he is perfect for the medium.

  19. Hat: I think it would be a Good Thing to just automatically reopen all the posts you mention as you mention them.
    I too thought it would be a Good Thing, but then I thought “Whenever I’ve done that in the past, nobody’s commented on the old post I’ve reopened and then the spammers come and I have to close it again and it’s all very irritating, so I’ll just do it on request.” Since you ask so nicely, and since there are few things I like better than getting new comments on old posts, I have opened them all and will do so in the other anniversary posts, but if nobody but spammers shows up, I’m going to be as irascible as an old shoe.

  20. Mazl-tov!

  21. marie-lucie says:

    I thought that an old shoe was the epitome of comfort (within limits). Since when has it become a symbol of irascibility? or is this another joke I didn’t get?

  22. Happy anniversary! It’s great what you’ve done with the place!

  23. Since when has it become a symbol of irascibility? or is this another joke I didn’t get?
    I was just parroting Grumbly; I’ll let him explain how he came by it. I’d never have thought of an old shoe as irascible, either.
    It’s great what you’ve done with the place!
    You mean like not changing it since 2003? I agree!

  24. Vive languagehat!
    Consider the motion seconded.
    ________________________
    Vive chapeaulange!
    Vive langechapeau!
    The first one scans better, the second may be more acceptable to French speakers; neither may be well-comprehended. They both may stray so far from the grammatical they’re stillborn. Maybe French does word play in a parallel universe. Translation’s tricky.
    ________________________
    The Hattery is an invigorating treat, a respite from Mammon’s vineyards. May its felt long be felt, and its quick and its silver kept separate.

  25. marie-lucie: “irascible as an old shoe” is a jeu d’artifice. Incompatible topics sometimes ignite spontaneously when brought together, producing a few harmless sparks. It’s also known as a wisecracker.

  26. ¡Felicidades por este décimo aniversario!

  27. Thanks, Hat. Don’t forget to reopen the Purity vs. History 2 and 3 (maybe not 4, given its inflammatory nature).
    My comments are already being posted!

  28. Done!

  29. Sir JCass says:

    I’ve read a lot of blogs in the past decade, and I’ve either stopped reading them or they’ve stopped existing, but since I first came across your blog, I’ve read every single post.
    Seconded. I’ve either given up on most blogs I used to read or they’ve given up on me. LH’s site seems to have been around forever but I can remember some of the early posts as if they were only yesterday. The internet does funny things with your perception of time.
    I have opened them all and will do so in the other anniversary posts
    Plenty of opportunity for l’esprit d’escalier there. I’m off to pick a fight with some unsuspecting Greek nationalist who thinks they had the last word back in 2003. (Just kidding. I’m too mellow for flame wars nowadays).

  30. Garrigus Carraig says:

    Well, heck, congratulations, viejo. I can’t remember how or when (’06?) I was led here, but it’s the only blog I still read every day, and I remember with fondness the joy and comfort it has consistently brought me.
    Here’s to many more years.

  31. Heh. In my search through the archives I just hit this 2004 post in which I announce I’m closing old posts because of spam.

  32. J.W. Brewer says:

    I have not kept records on when I became a reasonably regular commenter here (maybe ’08?) or a reasonably regular reader (some time meaningfully before that), but I am pleased to see from a search that I popped up on languagehat quoted in an Oct 8, 2005 post (taken from a Language Log post in which I had been quoted – back when they didn’t have comments but if you directly emailed the author of a post you might be lucky enough to turn up in a followup post and/or expansion of the original post), which apparently puts me back *almost* as far as John Cowen. But I am also pleased to see that the 2004 post beginning “I fear my infatuation with David Brewer has thoroughly cooled” is *not* a reference to my own published-academic-author family member of that name.

  33. A very happy anniversary to you. I’m wearing a hat specially so I can doff and wave it.

  34. J.W. Brewer says:

    John Cowan, I should have said. (I expect Cowan is the more common spelling but I probably overcorrect on account of having had a college classmate who spelled it Cowen.)

  35. marie-lucie says:

    Paul O:
    Vive chapeaulange! Vive langechapeau!
    The first one scans better, Yes, but …
    the second may be more acceptable to French speakers
    … neither ie acceptable.
    There are two French words for language: le langage is generic, the faculty of language shared by all humans; la langue (lit, ‘the tongue’) refers to a specific language such as English, Russian, etc.
    Le lange is an actual word meaning ‘swaddling cloth’, for centuries the main way of clothing babies. A “langechapeau” would be a type of swaddling cloth, perhaps with a hat attached, and a “chapeaulange” a type of hat serving as a swaddling cloth (actually both these words sound like attempts at describing a turban).
    It is not obvious how to translate the blog title “Language hat” (as opposed to treating the phrase as a name on the same pattern as “Adam Smith” or “Noam Chomsky”) by creating a compound noun with “chapeau” as its head. In French it is more idiomatic to use phrases, such as Chapeaux et langues or Langues et chapeaux, either of which could be a blog title, though not a person’s name. But these titles would seem to focus equally on hats and languages, or even to establish some sort of relation between them.

  36. The (excellent) expression “Language Hat” is not immediately understandable in English, so let’s not set the translation bar too high.

  37. There are two French words for language . . . (i)n French it is more idiomatic to use phrases . . .
    Enlightening place, the Hattery.
    __________________
    (actually both these words sound like attempts at describing a turban)
    The Hebrew verb that denotes wearing a hat or skullcap is different from the general verb for getting dressed or wearing clothing. It’s probably been that way for a long time, because its root connotes wrapping.

  38. Try translating Ø into French.

  39. marie-lucie says:

    Let’s not translate it at all! (like “Amen” or “Alleluia”).
    Actually, the obvious way to congratulate Mr Hat would have been to say Chapeau! (more or less: “I tip my hat to you”).
    The older way was Chapeau bas! (more or less: “I take off my hat and practically sweep the floor with its plume as I bow to you”)
    A woman can say Chapeau! (my mother used the term quite often), but the gestures (in an earlier time) were typically men’s.

  40. Bathrobe says:

    What about parole?

  41. Happy anniversary! Такой блог шапками не закидаешь ;)

  42. >A. J. P. Crown
    Even one Spaniard like Jesús can know (from 1970, when Venn diagram was an innovation here) that this symbol is “région vide”, our “conjunto vacío”. It was so funny reading empty belongs to a group (“grupo” but also “conjunto” in Spanish) full of musicians.
    >Marie-lucie
    As you know, we say “amen” but French people frequently say “ ainsi soit-il”.
    Signature: a daring Spaniard who try to write in English.

  43. J.W. Brewer says:

    Uh oh. Now that post I referenced above is in the second greatest-hits collection, glossed as simply “bile about Brewer,” without any further specificity . . . I don’t have particularly strong views on monotonic/polytonic disputes, although as chance would have it I recently read for the first time (in English translation) that Pushkin short story (“Kirdjali,” although I’m not sure all translators give it the same title) set in the context of Ypsilanti’s revolt in Moldavia.

  44. Is there anyone who’s been reading Languagehat all the way from the beginning?

  45. Sir JCass says:

    Is there anyone who’s been reading Languagehat all the way from the beginning?
    I was certainly aware of this blog within its first few weeks/months of existence. I used to change my pseudonym quite regularly back then. In fact, I no longer remember which of the commentators in some of those threads was me. Maybe it’s a case of every old sock(puppet) meets an old shoe.
    But I imagine there are plenty of others who can beat my record. John Emerson (the Artist Formerly Known as Zizka) would be a prime contender.

  46. Did you find out about it from Metafilter, Sir J? I know Language was a commenter there before he stifted his Hat.

  47. Sir JCass says:

    Did you find out about it from Metafilter, Sir J?
    No, I didn’t even know about Metafilter back then. I can’t remember exactly how I came across LH, but in those days the “blogosphere” (then a freshly coined term) seemed a very small place. It was a bit like a frontier town in the Old West. Everyone on Blogspot seemed to know each other, even if they didn’t necessarily like each other, and there were plenty of gunfights. Hat’s place was an oasis of civlisation, of course.

  48. Is there anyone who’s been reading Languagehat all the way from the beginning?
    Songdog (who helped me set it up) and my wife, at a minimum. It’s possible Renee (who encouraged me to start it—she ran the much-missed glosses.net) has continued to read it; we correspond from time to time. And zizka/JE, as mentioned, is one of the Old Ones, though I don’t know exactly when he came on board.
    Did you find out about it from Metafilter, Sir J? I know Language was a commenter there before he stifted his Hat.
    Nope, I joined the Filter a couple of weeks after creating the blog. (Otherwise I would hardly have been “languagehat” over there.)

  49. I read an article in the Guardian that mentioned Language Log, and after looking at that a couple of times, and I think I must have been reading Steve’s comments and thought he knew what he was talking about or something like that, that’s how I found the hattery.

  50. Crown: Stifted, as in donated?

  51. m-l: I keep meaning to mention how much I appreciate it (I realize it’s a teacherly habit) that you automatically give the French article when you define or explain a French word, thus painlessly providing the gender for us ungenderous anglophones. Who knows, perhaps they will eventually sink in, though I usually learn the gender of a word such as système only by trying to use it and being publicly corrected for it — the memory sticks after that.
    Come to think of it, have you in fact taught French?

  52. marie-lucie says:

    I don’t remember how I stumbled across Language Log, but shortly afterwards there was a reference to languagehat which I followed, and I have come here ever since. At the beginning I recognized the name of a linguist friend among the commenters, and I signed a comment with my full name, but since my first name is long enough as it is, I just used IT afterwards. (I have pseudonyms for other, occasionally-read blogs or newspaper articles, but not everywhere).
    I remember Renee since some of my first contributions were answering her queries about how to handle languages in her family when her baby was born! This also dates from when “zizka” was a frequent commenter, and I had no idea that “John Emerson” was the same person. Didn’t they overlap at some point? AJP also came on some time afterwards. “Siganus Sutor” and the mysterious “Noetica” were prolific commenters then too. Gee, this is like a school reunion!!!

  53. Stifted as in å stifte, ‘to found’ (I figured that Sir JCass, with his .se address, would understand, though now I’m not sure that it’s the same word in Swedidish).
    I think I joined about 2008-ish.

  54. I usually learn the gender of a word such as système only by trying to use it and being publicly corrected for it — the memory sticks after that.
    That is also my preferred method of learning. Painful and thereby unforgettable.
    how much I appreciate it (I realize it’s a teacherly habit) that you automatically give the French article when you define or explain a French word,
    I too appreciate it. From time to time I fret over whether I should do that too with German. Isolated German words fit more smoothly into a English sentence when I leave off the article. But that is just a der Nebeneffekt of the kind of sentences I write.

  55. marie-lucie says:

    JC, thank you. I have indeed taught French for many years, more so than linguistics although that is my true love and academic specialty (and it helped me a lot in teaching French).
    Lists of English nouns only need to write down each noun, nothing else. Lists of French nouns (eg those to be used in a lesson) always list an article also, whether they are for native French speakers or for second-language learners. Most anglophones are so used to nouns being neutral that they tend to ignore French articles when they hear or read them, and then they wonder why they can’t remember genders. “How can French children learn those genders?”, they wonder. The answer is that in the vast majority of cases, it is those little words, as well as pronouns and adjectives, that give the clues to gender, and French speakers beyond the age of about two or three are used to paying attention to them, even if subconsciously. The few cases where speakers do wonder, or make a mistake, are mostly rare words where the initial vowel neutralizes the shape of the preceding article, and the noun is rarely used in a way that would reveal its gender. Even in languages with lots of words ending in -a or -o like Spanish and Italian, the ending is not always a clue to gender, and the -e or other words give no clue at all, so you have to learn the article also.
    Dictionaries do not give the article, but use m. or f. after the nouns. The foreign learner probably ignores these mentions, but should try to “translate” them into pre-nominal articles and learn French nouns as phrases including the article.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: Isolated German words fit more smoothly into a English sentence when I leave off the article. But that is just a der Nebeneffekt of the kind of sentences I write.
    Why not write: But that is just ein Nebeneffekt?
    I realize that that does not tell your reader whether the noun is masculine or neutral here, but it would sound better (at least to me). Or just a Nebeneffekt, since your sentence is in English not German.

  57. I think I joined about 2008-ish.
    That late? Huh. I’ve dug around a little and found this 2008 post, which ends “This link comes from Crown, AJP, a frequent LH commenter aka Sir Arthur Crown, V.C.; Arthur, Graf von Hubris; et alia varia, to whom my thanks,” but I guess if you’d been commenting frequently enough you might have achieved that accolade within your first half year.

  58. marie-lucie: I see your point, but it is the thin end of a wide wedge. What happens when you move beyond the nominative singular ? Or if I tried to meld German declinations with English syntax, say in “I see it as just einen Nebeneffekt of …” ? (The German sentence being: “Ich sehe es als einen bloßen Nebeneffekt von …”)
    This would be as pedantic as they come – and yet it would grate on
    me to write: “I see it as just ein Nebeneffekt“. If I’m going to skin a cat, I need to go whole hog.

  59. Sir JCass says:

    I figured that Sir JCass, with his .se address, would understand, though now I’m not sure that it’s the same word in Swedidish
    Sorry to confuse you. That’s just a throwaway fake e-mail address I made up on the spur of the moment. I don’t know why I picked .se. I’ve only spent one afternoon in Sweden and read as far as Chapter 3 in Teach Yourself Swedish. I’m not a Swede, a Goth or a Vandal, but a Mercian.
    Among other old regulars I remember M o i r a, commonbeauty and Jimmy Ho. Maybe they’re still around.

  60. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, I see your point, and I see that I had not taken case into account, so forget my first suggestion. But read my second suggestion: if you are writing in English, just use an English article with the German noun.
    If you want to learn the gender of German nouns without constantly looking them up in a dictionary, pay attention to the other words that go with those nouns: many contexts will reveal the gender even if the article itself does not. For instance, if you see or hear the words Eine kleine Nachtmusik, you don’t have to hesitate about the gender of musik when you have eine and kleine telling you that the following noun is feminine. Ein kleines Mädchen will tell you that Mädchen ‘girl’ is neuter even though ein is ambiguous, etc. Surely you know this and have used it already.

  61. marie-lucie: Yes, of course I use these clues, just as every German does too. It’s the same phenomenon you described for French.
    But read my second suggestion: if you are writing in English, just use an English article with the German noun.
    That is in fact what I already do. The question was, whether I could follow your example with French. How much German grammatical information intended to help others could I pass along in blog comments without getting tangled up in syntactical problems ? Even gender presents a problem, due to case.
    This is all easier with French, I think.

  62. Grumbly, it’s one thing to article-ize a foreign word when you are just borrowing it temporarily to make a point. It’s quite another when you define it, and that, I think, is when the article is most useful: grammar and semantics in one little package. And no, I don’t think you should inflect such ad-hoc borrowings, any more than you ought to put -n on a German noun in an English sentence if it’s being used as an indirect object. “To speak English, you only need to know English,” as our Hat has told us.
    I wonder if there are languages that have grammatical gender but where it is marked neither on the head noun nor on any of its dependents (articles, adjectives, etc.) in a systematic way. That would indeed be hard to learn.

  63. any more than you ought to put -n on a German noun in an English sentence if it’s being used as an indirect object
    Only noun plurals. The general rule is: to get the dative plural, you add -n to the nominative plural.

  64. Yeah, that’s right. I’m not used to thinking about or formulating “rules”, whether in German or English. My grammar vocabulary is minimal in both languages.
    There’s something called the Futur II, for example. I couldn’t tell you what that is (although I have a suspicion). Just now you used the word “inflect”, which I had completely forgotten.

  65. I have pseudonyms for other, occasionally-read blogs or newspaper articles, but not everywhere.
    Noms de web, one presumes.

  66. At Facebook they’re called noms de gueule, I believe.

  67. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: noms de gueule
    Where did you find that?

  68. I don’t think I’d have got my gold plastic Frequent Commenter card in so short a time, and I don’t think we had Topsy back then either; I suppose I joined in ’07, but frankly anything that happened before last week is pretty hazy.
    Why would Zizka suddenly adopt a pseudonym like “John Emerson”. Seems like overkill. I’d have at least gone with Ralph W. Emerson, or maybe just “Baldo”.

  69. Where did you find that?
    You must learn to stop taking Grumbly so seriously (as he’d be the first to tell you).

  70. I could tell Stu was fooling around, but I know pitifully little French except for the mathematical kind, so I wondered what gueule meant. I googled it and was reminded that the last time I saw it it was when m-l (somewhere) told us about French words for appetizers/canapes/starters/hors d’oeuvres. One can say amuse-bouche or .

  71. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks for the tip, LH. The phrase could just about be used to refer to trolls’ names.

  72. Hat first linked to my currently moribund site in Dec 2006, and at that time he called me a long-time commentator, so I guess I’ve been around a while. I don’t remember how I discovered the blog.
    Is Teju Cole “commonbeauty”? I’m afraid I wasn’t around when commonbeauty was posting.

  73. Is Teju Cole “commonbeauty”?
    Yes, that was one of the various blogs he started up and then deleted back in those days.

  74. marie-lucie says:

    Ø : French words for appetizers/canapes/starters/hors d’oeuvres. One can say amuse-bouche or .
    amuse-gueule.
    La gueule is literally the mouth of a carnivore, with those big fangs, so using it about a dog, for instance, is perfectly respectable. It is also a slangish derogatory word for the mouth of a human, but un amuse-gueule to me is the right word for an appetizer, etc, while un amuse-bouche I consider unnecessarily genteel.
    There is a slang verb gueuler ‘to shout, holler, etc’, and a slangish noun phrase un coup de gueule ‘a sudden loud verbal outburst, usually delivered with slangy or swear words’. But the verb phrase donner de la gueule (lit. ‘to give from the mourh’ is what a dog or other animal does when it suddenly barks or is otherwise loud. Another phrase with gueule is se jeter dans la gueule du loup (lit. ‘to throw oneself into the wolf’s mouth’) ‘to deliberately or carelessly run into avoidable danger’, not physically but for instance by encouraging the maneuvers of a crook instead of staying away from him.
    I forgot that the English word gules meaning ‘red’ in heraldry is from gueules, from using the colour red for the mouth and tongue of a lion or similar wild animal.

  75. Oh, yes! I was even thinking of gules=red=maw the other day, but I still did not recognize the word gueules when Stu used it.

  76. Trond Engen says:

    A brief interlude home from holiday, and there’s not only twelve days of new posts to read, but for every day it takes me to finish there’ll be ten old posts with complete comment threads. And I know that if I miss a single line I’ll regret it. This is Language Hades.
    Anyway: Hatty anniversary!

  77. In my reading I have picked up many locutions in which gueule means face or appearance, not mouth: sa gueule ne me revient pas and se casser la gueule for example. That was the connection with Facebook.
    marie-lucie could tell us more about this. Here is the Petit Robert entry:

    gueule n. f.
    • goule XIe; gola 980; lat. gula « gosier, bouche » 
    I¨ Bouche (de certains animaux, surtout carnassiers). La gueule d’un chien, d’un brochet, d’un reptile. « les crocodiles et les requins qui passent entre deux eaux la gueule ouverte » (Céline). — Loc. Se jeter, se précipiter dans la gueule du loup, dans un danger certain, et de façon imprudente.
    II¨ (goule XIe) Fam. Visage, bouche (des personnes).
    1¨ La bouche considérée comme servant à parler ou crier. ==> clapet. Ferme ta gueule ! tais-toi. Ellipt Ta gueule ! — Pousser un coup de gueule : crier ou chanter très fort (==> gueulante). Un fort en gueule, une grande gueule : un homme bavard et grossier (==> braillard, 2. gueulard); qui est plus fort en paroles qu’en actes. « Aussi marioles qu’ils se croient, ils parlent trop; c’est des grandes gueules » (Carco). — Se fendre la gueule. Tu peux crever la gueule ouverte, mourir sans secours. La gueule ouverte (évoque la mort).
    2¨ La bouche considérée comme servant à manger. Ce piment emporte, arrache la gueule. — Avoir la gueule de bois. Puer de la gueule : avoir mauvaise haleine. — Une fine gueule. ==> gastronome, gourmet. — « les plaisirs de la table, les vieilles recettes, les chefs disparus, le beurre blanc de la mère Clémence et autres propos de gueule » (Perec). — S’en mettre plein la gueule : s’empiffrer (==> gueuleton). Se bourrer la gueule : s’enivrer.
    3¨ (1673) Figure, visage. Il a une bonne gueule, une sale gueule. « Est-ce que j’ai une gueule à être cajolé ! » (Cossery). ==> tête. — Loc. Délit de sale gueule, assimilant la couleur de la peau à une infraction qui justifie un contrôle d’identité (cf. Délit de faciès*). « peurs ou haine selon que l’on s’appelle Paul ou Ahmed. Le délit de sale gueule est ici loi naturelle » (Izzo). — Gueule de raie, d’empeigne. Sa gueule ne me revient pas. Arriver la gueule enfarinée. Faire une gueule d’enterrement. Faire la gueule (à qqn); tirer la (une) gueule (à qqn). ==> bouder (cf. Faire la tête). — Se casser la gueule. ==> 1. tomber. Casser la gueule à qqn. ==> battre. Soldat qui va se faire casser la gueule. ==> tuer; casse-gueule. Je vais lui mettre mon poing sur la gueule. (Se) foutre sur la gueule : (se) battre. — Ramener sa gueule. Se foutre de, se payer la gueule de qqn, se moquer de lui. En prendre plein la gueule : recevoir les pires affronts, les critiques les plus violentes.
         ◊ Une belle gueule. Une jolie petite gueule. Gueule d’amour, surnom de séducteurs irrésistibles.
         ◊ Arg. milit. Une gueule cassée : un mutilé de guerre blessé au visage.
         ◊ (1894) Arg. Nord Gueule noire. ==> 2. mineur.
         ◊ Avoir la gueule de l’emploi*.
    4¨ (déb. XXe) Aspect, forme (d’un objet). Ce chapeau a une drôle de gueule. — Absolt Ce décor a de la gueule, il fait grand effet. ==> allure.
    III¨ Par anal. de forme
    1¨ Bot. Fleur, corolle en gueule, divisée en deux lèvres qui demeurent plus ou moins ouvertes. Cour. Gueule-de-loup (voir ce mot).
    2¨ (1360) Ouverture par laquelle entre ou sort qqch. La gueule d’un pot (==> égueulé), d’un haut fourneau (Þ 1. gueulard). — Spécialt La gueule d’un canon.

  78. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, yes, there are many other expressions with gueule, especially where the meaning is extended from ‘mouth’ to ‘face, appearance’, but I only remembered a few of them offhand, and I limited myself to ‘mouth’ meanings. Many of the expressions quoted in the Petit Robert also exist with tête ‘head, face’, but are made slangy by the use of gueule.
    Did you copy the whole list by hand, or was there a way to copy it through the computer and paste it?

  79. marie-lucie: Yes, I copied it with the computer’s “clipboard” into a text editor. (Mouse-mark the text in Robert, then press Ctrl-C, then click on edit area in editor, then press Ctrl-V). There I had to edit certain things (to get the lozenges to show up properly, for example) and add some browser markup.
    The encodings used by Petit Robert and many other items of “rendering” software is proprietary, at any rate it’s not HTML as required by browsers. It’s often a pain to transfer text from one kind of software to another. There are at least three reasons what this is so, in my view:
    1. The programmers and their masters have not seriously considered how to make copying easy and intuitive for the user of a dictionary, who often wants to copy text
    2. They do not want users to be able to copy too much text, for copyright reasons
    3. They are incompetent. The latest versions of the electronic OED and Duden are so full of stupid programming mistakes that I yearn for an opportunity to box the ears of both programmers and their masters

  80. Technically, Petit Robert is the best of the lot. I still use an old version that I bought eons ago for Windows XP, and now use in Windows 7.
    I have had several heated exchanges (telephone and email) with support people at OED and Duden, who claim not to be able to reproduce the errors and weird behavior that their products confront me with (unlike almost every other piece of software I have ever used). At some point I am going to have to document these problems with screenshots and detailed descriptions.
    It will take me at least 2 hours of hard work to get the documentation airtight. I fully expect that they will then reply with: “Oh, we’re sorry, we can’t reproduce these problems in Windows 98″.

  81. We did la bouche the other day, didn’t we?
    John, Norwegian doesn’t have many clues about the gender of the noun (3 genders in Norwegian). English & Norwegian dictionaries don’t always provide the gender. Not only that but there are some words that have different genders according to the dialect of the speaker – a newspaper is en avis (m.) where I live, but I remember Trond said he uses ei avis (f.), for example. However, others, like et hus (n.) a house, never change and would sound really peculiar with the wrong article. Although Norway’s much less class conscious than most places, some gender switches are slightly old-time snobby. I know a woman who (jokingly) tries to stop her husband from using feminine articles and word endings with certain words, masculine endings on some nouns being Danish and hence more upper-class (in some historical sense I’ll never really understand, probably like the English-Scottish relationship).

  82. Didn’t Norway used to belong to Denmark, or was its junior partner ? “With the introduction of Protestantism in 1536, the archbishopric in Trondheim was dissolved, and Norway effectually became a tributary to Denmark, and the church’s incomes were distributed to the court in Copenhagen instead.” (here).
    I wonder occasionally, in an ignorant way, what various things in the past enabled teeny-tiny countries like Portugal, the Netherlands and Denmark to grab everybody else’s lunchpails and build vast empires with them. I guess they were better organized, at the very least.

  83. I see there is a World History For Dummies book in print, but it costs only 14.52 Euros. Can’t be that much in it at such a low price.

  84. Sir JCass says:

    Norway was part of the Union of Kalmar (1397), which created a united kingdom of Denmark, Sweden and Norway (as well as Iceland, Greenland and some other islands). Denmark came to predominate, the Swedes didn’t like this and broke away in 1523. Norway continued to be part of the state of Denmark-Norway until 1814, then it was in union with Sweden until 1905.

  85. Boy, 500 years covered in three sentences. History in a nutshell from Sir J. No, that part I understand, what I can’t quite grasp is the relation between “upper class” and “Danish” in 21C. Norway. It’s a quasi-colonial thing, somewhat like between England and adjacent areas Scotland, Ireland & Whales, and as with those relationships it’s an anachronism for it to be class-related. Norwegians don’t look up to contemporary Danes or fear them, they’re just a rather nice ally with some great tv detectives, interesting bicycle laws, a similar language and much else in common.

  86. That’s odd, I could describe the Brits in that way too ! I’m thinking of The Singing Detective, I once saw parts of the TV series.

  87. Trond Engen says:

    It’s about the stickyness of sociolinguistic patterns. During the centuries when Norway was Danish, the Danish language was our High German. After 1814 the ruling class wasn’t particularly keen on replacing the norm that gave them the upper hand. See “Ireland” or “India”.
    But it’s also about the historical coincidence that Norway didn’t become independent when the political ties with Denmark were broken (and now I should warn you that we descend into my own interpretations). For the ruling class of 1814, the architects of the coup that gave Norwegian (semi-)independence, the goal was not so much to achieve independence for Norway as to twist the country out of the hands of the Swedish king. See Christian Frederick, King of Norway. After the attempt to forge a personal union with Denmark failed, the danophiles could establish Dano-Norwegian as a badge of independence from Sweden while attempts to norwegianize the language in accordance with the Eastern (Oslo and vicinity) dialects were seen as Swedification. And conversely, I guess; those positive to Swedish rule would be more ready to explore linguistic similarities. It wasn’t until the introduction of Aasen’s Landsmaal, with a deeper orthography reflecting (also, or mostly,) the Western dialects, became the standard of a new rural nationalism that the development of the Dano-Norwegian Riksmaal into modern Bokmål started in honest.
    Anyway, since the upper class was linguistically thoroughly Dano-Norwegian, emulating upper-class speech patterns would continue to mean adhering to Dano-Norwegian grammar and phonology, and in the quckly growing and socially stratified capital there became a clear divide between Western (Dano-Norwegian) and Eastern (based on the surrounding dialects) varieties (although with a gradual scale of western colloquials and eastern high registers inbetween). When my mother had her first job, in a finer glove shop in Oslo around 1960, almost 150 years after independence, she was instructed to say Hva behager? and pretend not to understand if a customer slipped into Eastern speech.

  88. That’s not so much ‘British’, as the genius of the writer Dennis Potter having been given license by the BBC (in the days before it became worse than worthless) to create some of the most imaginative tv in the history of planet Earth.

  89. Thanks, Trond. I didn’t know that bit about the Eastern dialects and their awful Swedishness. Now that you’ve tied the political history to the language, it makes the whole seem less arbitrary.

  90. It’s available on DVD for 7.98 Euros ! I’m going to order it as soon as my ship comes in.

  91. In two nearby universes, the Union of Kalmar was reconstituted. In the 1632verse, a far-from-dead Gustavus Adolphus engaged his daughter Christina to Prince Ulrik of Denmark (also far from dead) in 1634 after defeating Christian IV soundly, first at the Battle of Lübeck Bay and then at the (naval) Battle of Copenhagen, in both cases with small but decisive doses of 21st-century American help. Their children were to become the High Kings and Queens of Kalmar, a Swedish-dominated rather than Danish-dominated union.
    In Ill Bethisad, the turning point (just one of many in that history) was the fact that Napoleon was much less ambitious: he only wanted to be (Holy) Roman Emperor, not Emperor of Europe. Consequently, the Scandinavian countries stayed out of the war, and due to pressure from the liberal Scandinavist movement, Gustav IV of Sweden was replaced not by his uncle Charles XIII but by Frederik VI of Denmark-Norway (consequently no Bernadotte dynasty in IB).
    The resulting state, the Scandinavian Realm, has its capital at Gøteborg and is a pretty substantial empire. Politically, it is a free association of the following equal members: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Samme, Schleswig-Holstein[1], Oldenburg[2], Rygen, Lybæk[2], the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, New Sweden[3], New Iceland[4], Gadangmeland[5], Gebaland[5], Cruzan Islands, Tranquebar[6], Frederiksnagore[7], Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands, Monland[8], Tenasserim[9], and Tsingdav[10].
    [1] Holstein, but not Schleswig, is also a member of the Holy Roman Empire.
    [2] Also members of the Holy Roman Empire. This meant that during the Second Great War, when the HRE declared war on the SR, Oldenburg had to declare war on itself. They decided to fight in the Baltic on the SR side.
    [3] Also a member of the North American League (corresponds to Delaware in our timeline [OTL]).
    [4] Also a member of the North American League (corresponds to the area around Gimli, Manitoba, in OTL).
    [5] Formerly part of Danish (Swedish, Scandinavian) Guinea.
    [6] The area around Tharangambadi, Tamil Nadu, India in our time line; lost by Denmark in 1845 in OTL.
    [7] The area around Serampore, West Bengal, India in our time line; lost by Denmark in 1845 in OTL.
    [8] Part of Southern Burma in our timeline; the Mons are Burmese Khmers, who in Ill Bethisad were able to fight off the Burmans with European help.
    [9] Technically a feudal dependent of the Kingdom of Siam; the Monarch of the SR does formal homage for it. Internally to the SR, however, an equal member. (The Tanintharyi Region of Burma in OTL.)
    [10] The city of Qingdao in OTL; the SR swapped sovereignty over the Kalvebod Fælled, the reclaimed portion of Amager Island, for it in 1953. The Chinese trading settlement there is called Hetvotjeng in Riksmål (Hezuocheng in Pinyin).

  92. Trond Engen says:

    I’ve just passed over Amager Fælled by plane. How I’d like a Chinatown there!
    I don’t believe much in the name Kalmar used for the union. In, uh, a version of that timeline with a higher probability density, the political entity would be known as something else, and the term Union of Kalmar would refer to the special constitutional construction that came out of the 1397 negotiations.
    Neither do I believe much in Scandinavia — although more the later the union was forged. A strong power in Scandinavia would probably have exported its self-designation, which I think would be Norderlond or some such (in a unified orthography), yielding e.g. the United Nortern Kingdom in English. Or the Northerlands.

  93. Trond Engen says:

    I meant Kalvebod Fælled. Amager Fælled is more of a park. But I’d take a Chinatown there too.

  94. So this “1632verse” is a fantasy of Americans who kick ass, get foreigners straightened up about right and wrong, and in general set a shining example. It’s in line with what Romney recommended in his recent “lead the free world” speech. The main difference is that they go back in time to do it.
    Bombings haven’t been that effective, let’s try time machines ! Or rather “time-space juxtapositions”.

  95. Properly the empire is “det Skandinaviske Riksfællegsskap” (now imagine that in Fraktur); in some contexts with “Oldenborgiske” instead. The name didn’t start to be used until 1855, long after the actual political union. Here’s a writeup on Riksmål as designed in 1869-89: it was a conscious compromise between the Rigsmaal and Högſwenſka standards, with Old Norse as the tie-breaker. It’s official in the inner countries (where the rule is “Write Riksmål, speak dialect”) and co-official with German, Icelandic, Bengali, or what have you in the outer ones.
    I should perhaps add to the above the list of the non-self-governing SR territories: the North Atlantic (Svalbard, Bjørneøen, and Jan Mayen), the South Atlantic (Tristan da Cunha, Inaccessible Island, Nightingale Island, Gough Island, Bouvet Island), the Antarctic (South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, Dronning Maud Land, Peter I Island, the Antarctican Penninsula, Amundsen Station). There is also the Rikshovedstadsområde around Gøteborg, which is the de facto capital, although the royal capital of the Oldenborgs is still in Køpenhavn.

  96. Naah, Grumbly, you’re shooting from the hip again. There’s some Grantville folks (it’s based on Mannington, WV) who want to be Rulers of the World and some who want to be Leaders of the Free World, but they don’t end up dominating the town. For one thing, there are only about two thousand people affected: to survive at all, they have to spread out their scientific/technical knowledge, and they have to fend off the empires who want to annex the knowledge and get rid of the society that created it. Allying with Gustavus Adolphus is partly idealistic and romantic, but partly plain common sense. The Romneys of Grantville (aren’t too many, really) consistently end up with the short end of the stick, which doubtless has something to do with the author’s politics.
    I posted a while back about what I think American exceptionalism actually consists of: it’s not letting early modern civic nationalism develop into 19th-century Romantic ethnic nationalism, but letting it expand until almost everyone’s a citizen (indeed, the fact that some people are not citizens begins to be a foregrounded problem rather than a background(ed) fact). That ideal has probably more legs in early modern Europe than it does in most of the 21st-century world.

  97. Naah, Grumbly, you’re shooting from the hip again.
    A favorite Hattism, John. It insinuates that I am thoughtless, whereas whoever I am replying to is bent over their subject with furrowed, thoughtful brow.
    You shoot a Wipe link from the hip, I reply from the same region. This is a blog, not a PhD viva voce. Does anyone seriously expect to win gold stars here for judiciousness on hip topics ?
    In any case, you seem to confirm my impression: “There’s some Grantville folks (it’s based on Mannington, WV) who want to be Rulers of the World and some who want to be Leaders of the Free World”. That they “don’t end up dominating the town” is not their fault: it’s the thought that counts.

  98. What I said about the 1632verse is “just” my view. I have no ambitions to lead opinion.

  99. This is a blog, not a PhD viva voce.
    Hahaha.

  100. Crown, I figure you might appreciate an expression I almost used here but then didn’t, in order to ‘scape whipping. I wanted to call the 1632verse plot idea a pathetically presumptuous American one. I’m not a Commie, but by God there are limits to the amount of native self-righteousness I am willing to wave a flag for.

  101. Or financially support by buying books based on it.
    Of course, in The Free World, everything goes. Far be it from me to try and suppress the publication of well-meaning impudence.

  102. shooting from the hip [...] thoughtless [...] thoughtful
    It’s not about thought or its lack, it’s about being willing to talk about something without actually taking a look at it first.
    I am not a Commie
    The author, however, actually is a Commie, and I don’t mean a pinko liberal such as myself. Nope, he’s a card-carrying member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, the Trotskyist party in the U.S.
    Or financially support by buying books based on it.
    No need for that: it’s freely available.

  103. I read the WiPe article about 1632 (and its spawn) that you linked. If it gives a misleading impression, then perhaps not to link it would have been a good idea. What we disagree about is, I think, not the subject of the book, but whether that subject is cringe-making – however well-intentioned and ingeniously elaborated.
    It’s interesting about Flint being a Trot. I can see the connection: instead of the proletariat, we have small-town, right-thinking patriots using time machines to create permanent revolution on an international scale.
    The Transcendental Subject of History went missing a while back. It’s good to know that a replacement has finally been found: The American Way of Life.

  104. From the sample at the book link:

    When the dust settles, Mike leads a small group of armed miners to find out what’s going on. Out past the edge of town Grantville’s asphalt road is cut, as with a sword. On the other side, a scene out of Hell; a man nailed to a farmhouse door, his wife and daughter Iying screaming in muck at the center of a ring of attentive men in steel vests. Faced with this, Mike and his friends don’t have to ask who to shoot.
    At that moment Freedom and Justice, American style, are introduced to the middle of The Thirty Years War.

    Is this book a spoof or a parody ?? If this sample is representative, then I would call the style “slyly self-deprecating John Wayne splatter”.
    Maybe the WiPe contributor overlooked that.

  105. Come, Grubbly, John Wayne was never self-deprecating.
    I wish I had the time to take a look at this, it sounds like quite a find.

  106. He was self-deprecating with the ladies. Did you by chance ever read Joan Didion’s piece on him ? I think it was in Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

  107. Grumbly, I don’t believe that that was a sample from the book. That was something written (by someone) to lure you into reading the book.

  108. empty, I see you’re right. I found the section in Chapter 3. It’s written differently – not my cuppa, but nothing to spit on the floor about.
    Every link that John has provided gives a very misleading impression of the book. It seems that Flint has a number of “vocal” admirers from the wrong side of the tracks. That’s not his fault, but it’s not entirely not his fault either, due to the “Americans do the honorable thing” plot line.

  109. whether that subject is cringe-making
    Interesting that you put it that way rather than saying “makes me cringe.” I know if I tell you your reactions are not a template for all humanity you’ll harrumph and quote Luhmann and tell me “The choice of words is not important,” so I won’t, but it continues to be astonishing to me how ready you are to make sweeping judgments on things of which you know next to nothing. One quick glance at a Wikipedia article and you’re ready to condemn a whole book!

  110. That’s not his fault, but it’s not entirely not his fault either, due to the “Americans do the honorable thing” plot line.
    So let me get this straight. We’re only allowed to like books in which Americans are vicious genocidal thugs?

  111. Interesting that you put it that way rather than saying “makes me cringe.”
    “Cringe-making” is merely a bright-young-thing locution that I picked up from Brit novels of the ’20s and ’30s, I think. “Shame-making” is another.
    We’re only allowed to like books in which Americans are vicious genocidal thugs?
    Please remember that I have no ambitions to lead public opinion, much less The Free World. What I say is my opinion, and nothing more.

  112. One quick glance at a Wikipedia article and you’re ready to condemn a whole book!
    Wrong. As I wrote above, I read the article from start to finish. I have no idea why John linked to such a misleading thing – nor to the 1632 website with the crude text giving the impression that it was from the book.

  113. Hat – why do imagine that behind every tree is someone trying to issue authoritative statements ? As I have said before, I think you may be allowing yourself to be misled by the forceful, mocking way in which I put things.
    But forceful and mocking don’t add up to authority – or do they, on your view ? Maybe I am shortchanging myself, dammit.

  114. I link to Wikipedia articles more for their links than for their content: they serve as hubs to further information. But there’s really no reason you should realize that without you’re told. My bad.
    By the same token, I didn’t even notice the blurb on the other page I linked to: it was meant to be a link to the book itself. I haven’t looked at blurbs in decades, except after reading a book: for sardonic amusement, as in “How much have they screwed this one up?”
    But forceful and mocking don’t add up to authority
    No, they don’t. But they feel (whether you intend it or not) like a claim to authority. And this gets up the nose of persons like me and Hat, who only respect authority like Marie-Lucie’s, based on actual knowledge.

  115. So I am indeed shortchanging myself, it seems. I could be a Respektsperson if only I tried ! Nun … nein, doch lieber nicht. All those speaking engagements and endorsement campaigns, all that image-buffing and wrinkle cream – one has never a moment’s rest.

  116. Please remember that I have no ambitions to lead public opinion, much less The Free World. What I say is my opinion, and nothing more.
    Fine, then I will rephrase: you have contempt for all books in which Americans are presented as other than vicious genocidal thugs?

  117. so i see national sentiments are pretty alive and well among the americans too, and it’s okay cz it’s pretty different from the nationalist ones, i mean not me alone who gets ‘paranoid’ when perceives one’s national pride is that, a bit compromised
    this week i’d been watching the PBS history detectives and there was a topic on KKK, it’s scary how it was widespread in the 20ies and on, if in the 50-60 ies only it was the real start of the civil rights movement, no wonder that all the racism talk is still going on everywhere, the biggest and not very nice surprise for me in the land of the free
    so i thought maybe the nationalist movement got expressed
    more like racism in america, that’s why it’s pretty persistent too, it’s not that everybody gets to become a sitizen, as JC says, but that it’s everybody gets to be as if like graded according to their race, immigration history, unofficially of course, officially all what matters is wealth, money and power
    this people’s “gradation” is not that much felt in the more homogenous ethnically countries i guess, which does not
    mean perhaps that that’s better, all the countries in some time if not already now, will have something like 20%-30% of
    the immigrants populations or “expats” as they say if those
    people are from the first world countries living in the third
    world ones, pretty strange naming there i always thought, so
    of course more tolerance is desirable everywhere and the
    US, as if like a pioneer in that global movement, is doing maybe relatively not that bad, imo, at least there are no such things like neonazis in Russia beating people openly, for example, such a paradox, the nation who won the wwii, and
    that thing, i hope now the situation is better over there, the last time i noticed that, it was a decade ago
    so, relatively, if to not count the last wars, guantanamo, abu
    graib etc but that’s the foregn policy and maybe is off-topic, though it seems to me that that’s too as if like the continuation of the overall national attitude how it gets expressed
    somebody helped me to carry boxes unsolicitedly, so i am grateful and positive today

  118. somebody helped me to carry boxes unsolicitedly, so i am grateful and positive today
    Excellent! It’s nice when people show their good side. (I got to spend time with my grandson, which makes me grateful and positive.)

  119. Quite right, read: ethnic nationalism took the form of racism in America, and it might easily have become the only kind of nationalism. But not quite, and it is now mostly on the downslope. The KKK today are nothing like they were in the 1860s or the 1920s: they are a tiny and powerless minority.

  120. immigrants populations or “expats” as they say if those people are from the first world countries living in the third world ones, pretty strange naming there i always thought
    Me too. I think it’s only recently that this distinction has been made clear (or made so frequently, anyway). You & I (& perhaps others here like m-l, Stu and Birdbath) probably notice it because we’re living in foreign countries. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never thought of myself as an immigrant even though I’ve lived abroad for most of my adult life. ‘Expat’ always makes me think of a sweaty white man drinking pink gins in the tropics.

  121. yes, KKK is a powerless minority in its full expression now, but casual racism is still pretty widespread and its persistence, i thought, is because of that, that it is the nationalist like sentiment concealed underneath, one’s identity is white so what to do, must be that is something like how everybody, me too, perceives own identity
    “probably notice it because we’re living in foreign countries”
    i’ve lived for a longer time in Japan and the US only, know pretty well the Russian environment, so compared, the US is a more favorable place for an immigrant like me, i don’t qualify for being emigrant i guess cz no any political causes to live outside my country, just professional, and all mongolians have a very strong national feeling, surely i will go back home sooner or later, there is a saying “yasaa tavix” to return to one’s birth country to be buried there, japanese seem like that too, though it draws much critique from the most people in my country like why would you live outside the country giving all your younger fully productive years in the foreign places, to return to die only, nobody needs you then like reasoning
    perhaps everybody, immigrants for economical reasons, feels like that about their own life and countries
    the other day i have found moving the lab my former supervisor left a souvenir i brought him from my country in the drawer in the lab, maybe he just forgot, but still, doesn’t make me feel any warmer towards japanese, such cold self-absorbed neurotic people in general, the only people i admire are mostly the older ladies who wore on themselves the war burden and who kept their culture and traditions alive, younger people seem are too spoilt egoistic and shallow, looking just for self-comfortable life style, men in general are so worn out of any warmth by their endless competitiveness in life, even between themselves they are insensitive in that general basic human sense, but respecting most of all all kinds of hierarchy and formality, too sensitive in that regard people
    better americans saying outright in my face it’s not in their code of conduct to receive a gift from anybody even if it’s just a book on mongolian poetry
    well, i should of course be grateful to my former boss for all the good they have done to me, but such a little thing, too telling, to spoil everything surely would happen to me, too disappointing

  122. Crown, I think it’s more about internal headspace. If you are living in another country but still mentally belong to your own, you are an expatriate; if you have moved to another country with the intention of joining it, you are an immigrant. It’s the difference between being a Foobarian living in Slobbovia, and being a Slobbovian of Foobarian origin.
    As I’ve posted before, my mother came to the U.S. from Germany as a child expatriate, who missed her homeland tremendously. When she returned there, she found out that she had become an immigrant, and returned home (i.e. to the U.S.) as such.

  123. John, the other thing may be that ‘immigrant’ is seen more positively in the US than it is in Europe. I personally hate the word ‘expat’ as well as the contemporary concept, but I’ve no wish to be thought of as an immigrant, either.
    Read, I recently had to fill in a long official British form about citizenship which asked about what country I hoped to be buried in (cremation was out of the question, apparently), so maybe it’s taken internationally as being quite significant. Not by me, though. I’ll be dead (I hope).
    I’m sorry about your Mongolian souvenir. Most people would have loved to have got it.

  124. thanks, AJP! it’s a picture of wolves on the piece of leather, a usual souvenir, for mongolians would mean wishing good luck and raised spirits, i’ll hang it on my wall i guess in a new apartment i am moving in, as we say toorsoor toroldoo, coming back to where it belongs
    it’s sure just his forgetfulness i want to believe, he’s not a mean person by his nature, and the incident with citing the code of conduct really happened to me, well, i’m not good at making friends with people i guess, in the general
    sorry to complain too much, k mestu i ne k mestu, the rant above was caused by i just recalled a movie _hamlet2_, there a teacher, drama enthusiast tells his HS students how every place will be better than their hometown Tuscon, a very strange message imo, one’s childhood and youth the best years spent there in one’s hometown and people not feeling any emotional attachment to it is difficult to understand, if it was unhappy abused childhood it’s perhaps could be so
    or maybe it’s just nature of westerners, stronger outward curiosity and less attachment to one place were what made their colonizations and spread successful

  125. Very strange, read, I once read a book about a Chinese or Japanese student who went to the US to study and gave his professor what he thought was a wonderful gift. One day he went to a party at his professor’s house and expected to find his gift given pride of place in the home but couldn’t see it anywhere. Somehow he discovered (perhaps when he went to the toilet) that the professor had stuck in it a back room or basement with lots of other gifts and unwanted objects. I’m sorry I can’t remember the details of the story (or even the nationality of the student, although I think it was Chinese), I just remember how indignant the student felt that his professor had thought so little of his carefully chosen gift.
    There’s no particular moral here; I was just struck by the similarity in the story. It certainly does betray a certain lack of sensitivity to the thought that comes with gifts of any kind.

  126. AJP, I usually thought of an expat as someone on expat benefits (in a Western company, including moving allowance), generally staying in expat circles and not becoming too involved in local culture. That was when I lived in Japan, where I never regarded myself as an expat. I was a ‘local’, if not a ‘native’.
    Since I’ve come to China I think my perception has changed a little. There are lots of foreign people in China who are not on expat benefits but manage to stick together in expat groups. I guess I regard myself as an expat in a way I that I didn’t in Japan. I don’t know whether it’s because of the different society (China feels less ‘stable’ as a place to commit to), different circumstances, or just different stage of life.

  127. i’ve watched the other day a PBS nova program on multiverses and it was moving to again as if like reaffirm similarity of thoughts, about multiple universes always dying and big banging elsewhere, a very buddhist thought that is getting confirmed or at least argued possible by astrophysicists now, where the exact copy of one could exist, so nothing is unique and everything is repeatable exactly the same billions times, just unknowable
    it’s great to find that someone thought a similar thought, on chaos and order for example, as i found this today, a great blog
    http://specularimage.wordpress.com/
    search on margulis
    i’m stuck with the movers not showing up today, the exactly same thing happened to me last year, they said their truck had an accident this morning, what an unfortunate coincidence, or must be something like sun activity interfering as always, and the landlords behaving greedy trying to find a slightest fault with me to keep security deposits, wholly or partly, is really nothing new and in their nature i guess, i just
    always wonder why money is so everything for these people,
    by any means and from whoever
    hopefully i’ll be able to move today

  128. read, the first time I want to America (San Francisco) I was to meet a friend, but I went to the wrong place. I needed to make a phone call to figure out what to do, but there were no public phones in sight. So some friendly people (immigrants, judging from the accent) running a small shop nearby told me I could use their phone — for $1. This is the first and last time I’ve ever struck anything like it.

  129. Oh, and good luck with your move!

  130. I don’t think movers can use solar activity as an excuse – not unless they arrive by spaceship.
    Bathrobe, it’s one thing if you’re living someplace because of your job. However, the expat communities of retirees that you find in southern Europe aren’t required to ‘learn the language’ or fit in to the existing community as immigrants are usually required to do, and that seems unfair.

  131. Crown, sociologists with a system theory point of view would tell you that it’s no surprise when such expat communities are not expected to “fit in” to the extent of learning a local language. Industrialized, modern nations tend to be conglomerates of functionally differentiated subsystems (legal, medical, educational, economic, political etc), each of which runs itself by its own rules, even though these subsystems are not completely autonomous. Functional differentiation is present in various forms at all scales, including small communities.
    Instead of being expected to fit in, your expat communities become an additional part of the “existing community” – or they don’t, or course, all depending. How much acceptance or friction is involved will differ from place to place. On the Costa Brava there is a chance of being accepted without speaking Spanish, whereas in an American Amish community the language is the least worry of would-be incomers.
    When retirees are added to the existing community, the existing community changes. At least that’s one way to look at what happens. Appeals to an unchanging community spirit or language, and willingness to believe and act on such appeals, continue even when things change out of recognition. Compare the USA in the 19C with the USA today – they’re still claiming to be “one nation under God”.

  132. Stu, that’s interesting and a good point, the retirees’ group may function internally and externally just as well as the local police force, but my point is that it’s unfair for the retirees to be held to a different community standard than the immigrants (who are supposed to learn the language & blend in so that they disappear). It’s especially unfair since the latter are most probably less-effectively organised and poorer than the retirees.

  133. I just saw a fox in the garden! I thought they all lived in cities nowadays.

  134. Yes, the city must be encroaching. Soon your bucolic retreat will be just another island in the midst of skyscrapers, hindering further construction.
    Immigrants who expect to find a job – or are expected to find a job instead of living off welfare – are expected to learn the language. Otherwise they would be useless as workers.
    But retirees are retired, they’ve got money and are not looking for a job. As a native of the community, I wouldn’t scruple to take their money even though I don’t understand a word they say.

  135. I mean “accept their money”, of course.

  136. “it’s unfair for the retirees to be held to a different community standard than the immigrants (who are supposed to learn the language & blend in so that they disappear)”
    From the natives’ point of view the retirees are bound to “disappear” fairly quickly anyway simply by virtue of their age.

  137. immigrants populations or “expats” as they say if those people are from the first world countries living in the third world ones, pretty strange naming there I always thought
    It’s not simply a first world/third world distinction. As John Cowan pointed out, it’s simply the difference between the intention to stay temporarily and the intention to stay permanently. Egyptian or Nigerian professionals who work at OPEC or the IAEA in Vienna are clearly “expats”. A Mexican graduate student at NYU would be an “expat”, not an “immigrant.” I have an American friend in Switzerland who is giving up his US passport and trying to get Swiss citizenship – he’s an immigrant. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a good word to capture the semantic middleground between a true immigrant and the image many in this thread seem to hold whereby “expat” means a spoiled foreigner living in a bubble.

  138. the semantic middleground between a true immigrant and the image many in this thread seem to hold whereby “expat” means a spoiled foreigner living in a bubble
    Well, there’s “incomepat” for those who work in a foreign country just for the money, but make no attempt to fit in with anything but the background – such as the Turks in Germany for a long time. A large number of non-spoiled foreigners living in a language bubble, one might say.

  139. “Intrapats” are people who live in interior immigration, like the Amish.

  140. I guess “guest worker/Gastarbeiter” is no longer politically correct?
    I’ve noticed the media now typically refers to seasonal East European labor in summer resorts in New England as “foreign workers.” That actually strikes me as no better. Nicer to be someone’s guest than simply “foreign.”

  141. I guess “guest worker/Gastarbeiter” is no longer politically correct?
    I’ve noticed the media now typically refers to seasonal East European labor in summer resorts in New England as “foreign workers.” That actually strikes me as no better. Nicer to be someone’s guest than simply “foreign.”

  142. ‘Expat’ always makes me think of a sweaty white man drinking pink gins in the tropics.
    I think that is a “Colonial”, at least in the US. Until recently an “expat” was an American in Paris or London, drinking a lot, scorning the Babbitts back home, and trying to be artistic. Hemingway, Stein, etc. I think “expat” used to be a badge of honor until sometime in the ’80s HR people started applying it to their overseas employees. Where once it was a label for non-conformists and bohemians, it now has connotations of corporate striving.

  143. Vanya: Gastarbeiter is definitely out. Those Americans who live in American head-ghettoes in Vienna (was it you who mentioned them ?) could be called “pat-a-cakes”. That’s what they play with each other instead of mixing with the locals.

  144. Crown: I recently had to fill in a long official British form about citizenship which asked about what country I hoped to be buried in (cremation was out of the question, apparently)
    I’ve been puzzling over that all day. On the assumption that you mean by “hope to” any of “hope to”, “expect to” or “want to”: what reason could the gummint possibly have for concerning itself with such a matter ?
    Is there an international agreement that each country has to pay the on-site costs of burying its citizens, no matter where they die ? That suggests that there is some kind of extinction trading going on, along the lines of emission trading – so the British gummint is estimating how many extinction units it has to trade.
    There must be a way to make money here. Norway has a lot of unused space, I think. Couldn’t you team up with a Minister there, acquire cheap land and set up Norwegian death holidays for the elderly ? Overall it would boost tourism revenue. They tend to be skin and bones anyway, so burying them in a corner of a fjord would be inexpensive.
    Then you and the Minister could cash in on what the native countries in each case had set aside for burials. For providing the business idea and consultancy I would charge only around 20% of the take.

  145. Expats come in all different types. Here is one that is might fire up AJP’s cylinders a bit:
    http://www.harrythehorse.asia/

  146. (Try the ‘I would if I could’… section)

  147. Grumbly, I think the implication is that if you want your ashes to be returned to China (or whatever) you are still Chinese at heart (or whatever).

  148. set up Norwegian death holidays for the elderly ?
    Yeah, we already have Toten Transport, thanks:
    “Vi kan nå tilby ukentlige transporter til og fra Portugal og Spania” (We can now offer weekly transportation to and from P&S).
    They asked where I had wanted to be buried if I were to have died* during different events in my life – my wedding was one of them. I found it rather tasteless.
    *(Subjunctive)

  149. “They asked” – the authorities, not Toten Transport. I’ve evaded Toten Transport so far.

  150. Thanks for Harry the horse, Bathrobe. He’s an extreme example of an expat (I bet no one has ever called him an immigrant).

  151. John: I think the implication is that if you want your ashes to be returned to China (or whatever) you are still Chinese at heart (or whatever)
    Yes, but this is a weird form of Gesinnungsprüfung.
    Why do British civil servants want to know whether Crown still feels British enough to want to buried in Surrey ? Not only is the question impertinent, but the answer should be irrelevant to the legally circumscribed, proper conduct of gummint. Unless, of course, money is involved, as I speculated.

  152. Trond Engen says:

    Stu: burying them in a corner of a fjord would be inexpensive
    Good idea, but if we change that to freshwater burials we could have incomes from something that would be outright beneficial: Human ashes as deacidatification. There are lots of lakes named ‘fjord’ anyway, so one might still sell it as The final fjordcruise.

  153. The cruise prices will be kept at affjordable levels, of course.

  154. Trond Engen says:

    Travel with Alka Line.
    A fjord you can afford.

  155. You should have told them that you expect to be buried in Westminster Abbey. And that if they can’t promise that then you will have to make some other, expatriotic, arrangement.

  156. My lips are sealed, except that I’ve had a chance to decide on how my ashes are going to be scattered. I want them distributed by fireworks (go out with a bang).

  157. With one of those complex set-ups that launch time-staged rockets to spell out across the sky, in colored letters:
                  A J P  &nbspC R O W N

  158. Yes, that’s great. Thanks. I’d better start saving up now, it’s going to cost a packet. I can’t afford to die yet.

  159. marie-lucie says:

    This idea of death cruises or burial cruises reminds of a detective novel I read a few months ago, probably a loan from a friend (I don’t remember the title, but the author seems to be Alaskan). The plot revolved around a cruise line specializing in rich passengers with terminal illnesses who would pay for the “cruise of a lifetime” from which they hoped they would never return. Of course the main character gets hired under some pretext and discovers le pot aux roses, as we say in French (pronouncing the t this time). I won’t spoil the ending because I don’t quite remember it, but there were nice descriptions of life in coastal Alaska.

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  162. m-l: Googling for this expression, I find that there is a folk-etymological version of it: le poteau rose! Ghu only knows what people think that means.

  163. Posted by: jesus revient
    Le spam religieux et en français – how classy can you get!
    I worked a little bit on the design of a cruise ship called “The World”, a sort of Marie Celeste, where rich people buy a cabin and live cruising from one port to another, never paying any taxes, dedicating the rest of their lives to a bureaucratic loophole.

  164. Le spam religieux et en français – how classy can you get!
    I know—I can’t bring myself to delete it. It gives the place a little tone, I think.

  165. marie-lucie says:

    le pot aux roses
    My own hunch is that whatever the original meaning was, the phrase became a euphemism for le pot de chambre ‘the chamberpot’. Until the advent of modern plumbing, this utensil was usually kept hidden in a closet or behind a screen, but a tactless person rummaging around the room would soon discover it. It is likely that fastidious people, especially young women, sprayed some kind of perfume in the closet, etc in order to conceal the odour: perfumes were heavily used in Europe in past centuries since there was no running water in houses and people rarely took baths. So a person discovering the source of the perfume would also discover (and perhaps uncover) the offending container.
    I am told that there is a poem by Swift in which a deluded young lover somehow gains access to his beloved’s bedroom in her absence, pokes around ecstatically and discovers the chamberpot, which proves that she is a mere human being rather than the ethereal, goddess-like figure he thought her to be.

  166. I see that there was once an entire LH post about le pot aux roses.

  167. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks for looking, Ø. I see that someone came close to my interpretation, but thought it was closer to “bathroom” than “chamberpot”. But you don’t really “discover” a bathroom, nobody needs to hide the fact that their house has one. Besides, inside plumbing is much more recent than hidden chamberpots, and the phrase le pot aux roses has been around quite a long time.

  168. In fact, what Swift’s lover Strephon goes into is Celia’s dressing room. On searching her discarded clothes, what he finds is that her underwear is soiled. Chamber pots aren’t part of it.

  169. marie-lucie says:

    OK, JC, I withdraw my comment. What is the name of the poem? As I said, I did not read it myself but someone talked about it in my presence, and I had no reason to doubt the report. In any case he point was the effect on the lover on discovering le pot aux roses, whether literally or figuratively.

  170. marie-lucie says:

    Quite a poem! very revealing about the state of hygiene at the time. The chamberpot is indeed mentioned, although with many circumlocutions. It is hidden, not in a closet, but inside a piece of furniture with a lid.

  171. Revealing indeed. And the first couplet is grammatically interesting:

    Five Hours, (and who can do it less in?)
    By haughty Celia spent in Dressing;

    I wonder whether “less in” (in place of the expected “in less”) struck the eighteenth-century ear as awkwardly as it does the modern one? And of course the rhyme shows that they dropped their g’s, which is not a surprise.

  172. The chamberpot is pretty much the point, or at least the heart, of the poem: “Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits!”

  173. AJP Crown says:

    I wonder whether “less in” (in place of the expected “in less”) struck the eighteenth-century ear as awkwardly as it does the modern one?
    But isn’t that kind of awkwardness intended to be amusing, both now & when it was written? I’m surprised it doesn’t have a name.
    Tripsy is not a bad dog’s name (my daughter is always on the lookout for dog names).

  174. marie-lucie says:

    The names are carefully chosen: Celia for the haughty, wealthy damsel, Strephon for the deluded lover, Tripsy for the dog, and plain Betty for the maid.

  175. AJP Crown says:

    m-l: Was there a class relationship in 18C. France for people’s names as there was in Britain? Would a Louis have been from a poor background before the Revolution?

  176. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, I think that Louis would have been common everywhere, but old French names of saints like François, Martin, Mathieu, Etienne, Antoine and others were long considered plebeian. French writers, scholars, etc of the 19C are likely to have Latin and Greek names such as Auguste, César, Evariste, Hippolyte, Théophile, etc. Old French female names like Françoise, Catherine, Martine came back into fashion with my generation. Before that, Catherine or Françoisewere likely to be farm servants. François and Françoise became very popular during and after the Occupation, since they are old form of the words meaning “French”.

  177. Sir JCass says:

    Wasn’t Jacques the typical French peasant’s name? Hence jacquerie. IIRC in A Tale of Two Cities almost all the lower-class French characters are called Jacques (Dickens is probably having a bit of a joke). Also, Diderot’s Jacques le fataliste et son maître.
    There’s an element of the “town eclogue” in Swift’s poem. The “town eclogue” was a type of parody of pastoral poetry which was fairly common in the 18th-century, in which pastoral situations were transposed to an urban setting (Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and John Gay published examples). Strephon is a typical name for a shepherd in traditional pastoral literature (it occurs in Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, for instance). Celia was a common name for a beloved lady in Restoration verse; it also has “heavenly” overtones in ironic contrast to the earthiness of the real woman Swift describes. Betty was a stereotypical maid’s name, as was Abigail. The stereotypical manservant’s name was John. Apologies if you know this stuff already.

  178. Sir JCass says:

    And of course the rhyme shows that they dropped their g’s
    Yeah, you get that even in a slightly more serious context in Pope’s Epistle to a Lady:
    “If Queensberry to strip there’s no compelling,
    ‘Tis from a handmaid we must take a Helen.”
    I often get the feeling 18th-century English people would have sounded a bit like P.G. Wodehouse characters (“huntin’, shootin’, fishin’”). When Georg Friedrich Händel took up British citizenship and changed his name to George Frideric Handel the spelling of the surname is meant to reflect the same pronunciation in German and English (“Hendel”). Everyone – in “polite society” at least – must have sounded like Prince Charles back then.
    But isn’t that kind of awkwardness intended to be amusing
    I think AJP is right. This is a Hudibrastic rhyme (named after Samuel Butler’s satirical poem Hudibras, which includes such couplets as “An pulpit, drum ecclesiastic/Was beat with fist instead of a stick” and “Beside he was a shrewd philosopher/And had read ev’ry text and gloss over”). Butler and Matthew Prior were Swift’s models in his octosyllabic verse.

  179. Sir JCass says:

    “And pulpit…”, of course.

  180. AJP Crown says:

    Sir J: This is a Hudibrastic rhyme
    Apologies if you know this stuff already

    Right. If only I did. Very interesting about the Handle-Hendel too. I’d wondered about that.
    m-l: In Britain it’s just been announced that Harry is currently the most popular name for boys (there’s a 20-something Harry who’s quite high up in the royal family).

  181. Sir JCass says:

    Incidentally, Swift himself invented a popular girl’s name, Vanessa, in one of his poems, ”Cadenus and Vanessa”. According to Wikipedia, Swift made it as a nickname for “for Esther Vanhomrigh, whom Swift had met in 1708 and whom he tutored. The name was created by taking ‘Van’ from Vanhomrigh’s last name and adding ‘Essa’, the pet form of Esther. Swift may have also derived the name from the ancient mystic goddess Phanessa.” (The Cadenus in the poem’s title is Swift’s name for himself, an anagram of decanus, Latin for “dean”, Swift’s rank in the Church hierarchy).

  182. AJP Crown says:

    I think I knew that, but I’d forgotten.

  183. Wendy was invented by James Barrie; it’s a childish mispronunciation of friend-ie.

  184. AJP Crown says:

    That I didn’t know. Are you sure it isn’t just a pet form of Gwendelyn? It’s easier to spell too. There used to be a British window-cleaning product called Windoleen, whose successful naming, I’m pretty sure, was based on its similarity to Gwendalyn.

  185. marie-lucie says:

    Who ever says friendie? I too have always heard that Wendy is from Gwendolyn. Of course, both explanations might be right.

  186. Sir JCass says:

    Pamela was invented by Sir Philip Sidney in Arcadia. It’s from the Greek for “all honey”. Of course, it didn’t really become popular until Samuel Richardson’s novel of the same name appeared.

  187. Apparently there were pre-Barrie Wendys (some of them male) recorded by the 1880 and 1881 censuses, but it was certainly Barrie who popularized the name. Barrie himself said that he derived it from the word fwendy (i.e. friend-ie) used by his child-friend Margaret Henley. She was the daughter of W. H. Henley, and also the model for Wendy Darling herself. Margaret died in 1894 at age five or six, of meningitis. Barrie was of course Scottish and well used to such diminutives.
    As for the Gwendolyn connection, there is no evidence for it, but there is no evidence against it either.

  188. AJP Crown says:

    Shamela hasn’t really caught on like Pamela.

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