Link love: language (9)

Medieval writing deskThe Age of Undoing.*

Idioms drawn by kids.

Glossary of hard-boiled slang.

Affixes used in scientific terms.

Queens’ College’s apostrophe.

The gostak distims the doshes.

Indo-European language trees.

Did the ancients normally read out loud?

Nescio quid dicas. (I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

Anthropologist Dorothy Lee on non-lineal codifications of reality.

* Edited to include this link, which I forgot before remembering.
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8 Responses to Link love: language (9)

  1. Claudia says:

    Each link is a treasure. It’s great that we can return to it whenever time allows. Impossible to savour the items all at once. I was so relieved to learn that finally the gostak distims the doshes. I had been truly worried for a while.

    Umberto Eco is a man after my own heart. I resisted email communications as long as I could. I have many boxes of letters, from different friends, collected since my youth. We would easily pen and answer 10-12 pages in our own very distinctive handwriting style. It was such a pleasure to pick up our mail in those days. Sometimes, when I receive emails I feel like telling the sender, “Nescio quid dicas…..unless you write it by hand!”

    Thanks for the post. All the best.

  2. Stan says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Claudia. I’ll continue to post links periodically, and when doing so to temper weightier material with fluffier stuff. Are you referring to this article by Eco? It circulated online recently (though not in the selection of links above). I share your nostalgia for handwritten letters; they are far better time capsules than emails. I have kept all my letters, but sadly I have mostly lost the habit of writing them. Still, a notebook accompanies me wherever I go, and I write by hand most days, albeit shorter pieces of text than before.

  3. Claudia says:

    The link to Eco was on the side of Fenton’s Read my Lips. I was interested because own many of Eco’s fiction and unfiction books. My favourite is <Experiences in Translation. It’s a fascinating text for someone who has to live in two languages, “thus involving a shift in two cultures.”

    Your links often provide other very rich links. I’m grateful.

  4. Claudia says:

    The key board missed the “I” before “own”….

    The fun of writing to a friend with a pen was that, sometimes, we crossed words, and corrected over them. The letters were not perfect models of penmanship, much more like a flowing conversation with sighs and retractions. A human expression…No machine can achieve this.

    When I finally used emails, often I had to write on paper, beforehand, what I wanted to say.

    In 2007, I wrote to John Le Carré. I sent three typewritten pages, offering my overall reaction to his then-20 books, which I had read in six months. He wrote back three handwritten pages in his own inimitable style. He had addressed the letter himself. My heart is still beating strong when I read, “Your letter bowled me over, as well it might!” It was not dictated, you see. It was his own hand expressing his gratitude. Not a machine. Not a secretary. I truly believe him when he says that my letter will go to the Bodleian Library “with all my papers, in the unlikely event of my death.” At one point he had written the word “finished’ and changed it, on top, to “reached”. It’s a treasure! Since then, on his birthday, I send a handwritten card, and he replies in the same manner. A gentleman of my generation, of course. I also learned that, as a stylist, he writes all his books by hand. His wife types them.

    Hoping that your handwritten notebooks produce marvellous books and articles. All the best.

  5. Stan says:

    What a lovely story! I am very impressed by Mr Le Carré’s gracious and sincere response to your letter. There is no doubt that the mind operates differently according to the medium of its expression, and that handwriting (typically) demands more patience and discipline than does typing. The speed of typing and the facility of undoing text are among its great advantages, but these attributes have their drawbacks.

    A few of my notebooks (which I carried around Europe) produced a book some years ago, but marvellous it was not, except perhaps fitfully, and it sunk mercifully into unpublished oblivion. The next book gains a note here, a page there, but it will remain in the background until or unless I gain a great deal of time with which to devote to it.

    I have read only a few of Eco’s books, including a collection of essays which I read so long ago that I no longer remember its name. More recently I read Anthony Burgess’s Language Made Plain, which delights in foreign languages and heartily recommends their study. Your remark about bilingualism reminds me of my first visit to France, on a school exchange, towards the end of which I experienced the uncommon thrill of thinking in another language. But I should practise more often…

  6. Sean Jeating says:

    Hostes alienigeni me abduxerunt. Qui annus est? (I was kidnapped by aliens. What year is it?)
    Ha ha. After all, I found a bit leisure to follow these links. As always, thanks for sharing, Stan.

    “Absolute Friends” was the last Le Carré I read. Even more than the the story itself I enjoyed the style.

    As for handwritten letters. Oh, what exciting times!
    On the other side, really appreciating the possibility to write a letter that, after pushing a button, will reach the (e)mail-box of the addressee within seconds, I learnt when our son made his first trip to Peru, Bolivia and Chile.
    At least once a week he would – even in the middle of nowhere find an internet café and let us know the latest highlights, anecdotes etc., and vice versa even in the djungle he would not have to miss thrilling news like f.e. the latest Bundesliga-results.
    Really amazing.
    As for the backdraws: Many “users” seem to have got used to a most sloppy handling of both language and orthography.

  7. Stan says:

    Thanks for that, Sean. It’s good to balance the drawbacks of digital communication with some of its benefits. It’s surely to our advantage that we need no longer labour over multiple copies, either for ourselves or for other third parties. Instead we have the CC and BCC boxes, the Sent folder, and so on. Also, a lifetime of letter-writing is no guarantee of good (or even legible) handwriting.

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