A. O. Scott’s review of the new Romanian movie Police, Adjective makes it sound like something I’ll have to try to see:

True to its title, the new Romanian film “Police, Adjective” is a story of law enforcement with a special interest in grammar. Its climactic scene is not a chase or a shootout, but rather a tense, suspenseful session of dictionary reading. I’m not being in any way facetious…. The dictionary in that scene is a versatile comic prop, and also an instrument of instruction and humiliation….
At another point, as Anca, a teacher and something of a linguistic pedant, listens to a romantic pop song over and over on her computer, she and Cristi have a debate about images and symbols in literature. Why, he wonders, don’t people just stick with the literal meanings of words, and forget about all the fancy stuff.

Sounds like my kind of cop movie. (Thanks go to LobsterMitten, aka LobboMobbo, for the link.)


  1. Dictionaries and detectives:
    Douglas Adams’s detective Dirk Gently boasts “There is no such word as ‘impossible’ in my dictionary.” It’s true: in an effort to make the book fit into a desk drawer, his long-suffering and short-tempered secretary has ripped out a number of pages.

  2. I am at once excited and wary of that movie. For a film that seems to depend so much on language—and individual words, even—you’d think they’d need one hell of a translator to make it as effective as the anglophones of the NYT and Chicago Tribune intimate.

  3. I need a pair of anglophones, i hope I get some for Christmas.

  4. You watch your run-ons or else you’ll only get semicoalons in the stocking.

  5. (To head you off at the pass, I too hate it when my stockings get a run-on in them.)

  6. (Those are probably ladders over there.)

  7. Trond Engen says

    Neither run-ons nor ladders, but occasionally a colon. Over here Christmas stockings are piles of dried cod. If you’ve been good, julenissen will fill your bed with stockfish at night for you to eat at the Christmas morning breakfast and as long as the stock lasts. It’s a shame how Hollywood turned a perfectly good native tradition into a glossy feelgood story of knitwear nailed onto the mantelpiece. I fear that some time soon kids won’t even eat the fish unless they get it wrapped in a sock!

  8. Thank you ZD. I suppose I ought not to run on. I never know. What’s acceptable. Not that I even noticed. This time. Until you pointed it. Out.

  9. I think I’ve really got the worst of it, though. Most days I won’t put on any sock unless it’s got a fish in it. It’s debilitating.

  10. John Emerson says

    For the uninitiated, “stockfish” is a euphemism for the dread lutefisk, and literally means “stick fish”. Stockfish can be worked like any other form lumber, and many Norse build their huts entirely of stockfish, only eating them when the weather starts to get warmer. They will also dance their quaint dances for you for a moderate tip.
    In Yorkshire, however, they have no stockfish or huts.

  11. So, what is this “Yorkshire putting” and where does one put it?

  12. Yorkshire putting
    I think this is where the “star in the yeast” comes in…

  13. “Loot a fisk” was an old Viking ruse for annoying Yorkshirepersons.

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