Birthday Loot 2021.

As I anticipate my birthday curry, I’ll post about the goodies I’ve received. Since it’s my seventieth, people have been especially generous; here are the books I’ve gotten so far:

Dictionary of Advanced Russian Usage, 2nd Edition: A Guide to Idiom, Colloquialisms, Slang and More (English-Russian, Russian-English) by Michael Kayser; as I told Lizok (to whom I bragged about it), Kayser is very idiosyncratic, and I wouldn’t let an inexperienced learner/translator near this book, but if you have a good background it’s invaluable — he includes all sorts of stuff nobody else would think of, and many entries make you both think and chuckle.

In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova — the Russian edition came in at #1 in Polka’s list of the 100 most important Russian books of the 21st century, and the translation by Sasha Dugdale (done in collaboration with the author: “I’ve benefited from Maria Stepanova’s highly literary understanding of English and English-language culture, and the generosity and freedom she gave me to recreate her brilliant work in a new poetic language”) is supposed to be excellent. I’m very excited to read it.

Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray — I’ve been wanting to read this for years.

Mozart: The Reign of Love by Jan Swafford — I’ve long wanted a good biography of my favorite composer.

My brother gave me two collections of sf stories, The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu and Exhalation by the great Ted Chiang, as well as the intriguing-looking The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars; he also gave me two movies, the 1950 Losey noir The Prowler and the much-lauded Minari (I look forward to hearing the Korean). From person or persons unknown, I got in the mail a very welcome gift of The Second Marxian Invasion: The Fiction of the Strugatsky Brothers by Stephen W. Potts — many thanks, whoever you are! And I treated myself to the DVD set of the first season of In Treatment, which I’ve heard great things about. Even the hot, steamy weather has let up; the high dropped from the 90s to the 70s. It’s been a good day.


  1. David Eddyshaw says

    Penblwydd hapus!

    (I would have said it in Kusaal, but the concept is too alien to Kusaasi culture to have a recognised equivalent.)

    Surprised you’ve never read Lanark. Well worth reading, though the puffs are hyperbole (to put it mildly. It’s not that good …)

  2. Diolch! I’m sure the Kusaasi are more sensible about these things.

  3. Happy birthday!

  4. Thanks, Beth!

  5. cuchuflete says

    ¡Buen cumple, chavaluco!

  6. Sretan sedamdeseti rođendan!

  7. מַזָּל טוֹב
    מַזָּל טוֹב
    גַּם לַפִּיל וְגַם לַדֹּב

  8. Lars Mathiesen says

    Tillykke med fødselsdagen! Halvfjerds, det er alligevel noget.

  9. Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Siebzigsten!

  10. Welcome to the 70 club!

  11. So far I’m enjoying it! And I’ve already learned from the Kayser book that besides сотник ‘Cossack military officer,’ there’s a more contemporary slang word сотник ‘cell phone.’

  12. John Cowan says

    Happy belated birthday to you, and as usual, happy birthday to me.

    David E.: And was ‘happy’ a lexical gap in Welsh before the English came? (Strictly it is a calque rather than a borrowing, but hap is plainly a borrowing. Then again, though the root is Proto-Germanic, hap came into English via Old Norse; the native ġehæp was lost.)

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    Hapus is more “joyful”; for “I’m happy (that ..)” you’d probably say dw i’n falch, though balch overlaps in semantic range with “proud”; “happy” in the sense “happy to …” is bod(d)lon. The bodd bit is used also in the idiom dw i wrth fy modd “I’m delighted [with the situation].” There’s llawen “merry, cheerful”, too, as in Nadolig llawen! “Merry Christmas!”

    Evidently the loan/calque was simply adopted in order to express yet more fine shades of happiness, inaccessible to the philistine English with their Saxon phlegm.

  14. Aguri! I am an internet stranger but I really enjoy reading this blog, especially your reading notes. Your chronological venture through Russian literature has inspired my own reading project on a different topic, so I thank you for that. I hope you enjoy the birthday loot!

  15. Wow, that’s great to hear — thanks, and I’m really glad to have inspired you!

  16. Jeffry House says

    Hi Stephen, Let me add my voice to Stella’s. Though I mostly participate here as a reader of the blog, I learn a lot and have been very inspired by your reflections on Russian literature. I especially appreciate it when you stray from the beaten path and write about half forgotten figures. So, happy birthday and thanks for adding a lot to my life!

  17. I love hearing things like that! Don’t worry, I don’t intend to stop posting about Russian literature; now that I’m retired, reading it is much of what I do all day. (I’m taking a break from Sokolov to gobble up more Bunin at the moment; short-story writers are convenient for that sort of thing.)

  18. happy birthday, languagehat! i started following this blog near the beginning of this year, having come across it while looking for information on Wolf Gordin and AO.. while i hadnt found reason to comment before now, your postings & the comments section have helped revitalize an interest in linguistics i left behind in highschool, as well getting me into central european & russian literatures. prior to this i’d only read kafka for the former, and anarchist & bolshevik non-fiction for the latter, and its been spectacular discovering all these worlds i’d never thought to look for before. so thank you for running a lovely site, and im glad your birthday’s gone so well!

  19. Just a side note. Not сотник but сотик. And it’s already outdated.

  20. your postings & the comments section have helped revitalize an interest in linguistics i left behind in highschool, as well getting me into central european & russian literatures.

    Wow, it’s comments like that that make me glad I started the blog and have been keeping it going so long! Thanks very much for taking the time to comment, and I wish you many more years of discovery.

  21. Just a side note. Not сотник but сотик. And it’s already outdated.

    I’m sure it’s outdated (reference books can’t help but be outdated), and doubtless сотик is/was more common, but сотник ‘Сотовый телефон’ is a thing.

  22. Belated happy birthday! I’m following you on the Pepys’ diary website and always appreciate your no nonsense comments 🙂

  23. Thanks! I have very fond memories of the Pepys experience.

  24. Crawdad Tom says

    生日快樂! And a happy Fourth! Great blog for continuing to learn about language and literature, and wonderfully erudite commenters.

  25. You haven’t read Lanark?

    When I ruthlessly downsized my library about five years ago, I dumped probably 50%, either because “I won’t read this again” or “I won’t read this again in this format” (e.g. all public-domain Penguin classics. My eyes are now much better suited to Kindle’s adjustable fonts).

    But I kept my hardback copy of Lanark, which I do intend to reread.

  26. There are so many things I haven’t read — so many things!

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