“The swell was flash, so I could not draw his fogle.”
Swell: gentleman (1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by Francis Grose)
Flash: Knowing. Understanding another’s meaning. (1891 American Slang Dictionary by James Maitland)
Draw his fogle: pick his pocket of his silk handkerchief. (1891 American Slang Dictionary by James Maitland)
In other words: the gentleman knew exactly what I was doing so I could not sneak the silk handkerchief from his pocket.
Introducing Clement Skitt’s word of the day. You may recognize Clement from Levi Levi and the Time Machine. He and his sister have since peeped into many different times and Clement has developed a healthy fascination with outdated slang. Today’s slang:
SEVEN-SIDED ANIMAL: a one-eyed man or woman, described as such because each has a right side and a left side, a fore side and a back side, an outside, an inside, and a blind side.
Or barely dabble. I’m sure a philatelist would have a conniption at the state of my stamps. My collections would be much more pleasing to a numismatist, but he would probably say that mine was a very mundane assortment; probably worthless. Likewise a petrologist would yawn, I imagine, until we got to the meteorites. I could almost be a deltiologist, but every time I gather up a good batch, I only try to find reasons to send them out in the mail. I’d probably be better at it if the mail brought them to me instead.
I used to be a devoted arctophilist, and still have many stuffed friends from my childhood, but have since mostly dismantled my collection.
I was never personally drawn to phillumeny, but I did inherit a lovely collection of matchbooks whose sulfur emissions are tightly contained by a gigantic jar. Woe to those that open it, though sometimes I do just to wake my nose up. My mother was very much a gnomologist, and I briefly followed in her footsteps until I tried paroemiography instead.
Lepidoptery always kind of creeped me out, and I find oology similarly squicky. Though I can kind of understand, the homes of plangonologists put me on edge as well, all those eyes!
On Tofugu (awesome blog by the way) there’s a recent post about how Google Images searches vary in Japanese versus English. I have used the differences between English and other languages in web searches when I am tracking down some information or publications, but I had never played around with the image search.
Anyway, the article at Tofugu got me wondering about German versus English, so here goes. I grabbed the top results from each search; German pictures come first. First up, Katzen vs. cats, because this is what the internet is for:Continue reading Image searches in different languages
When I talked about my enjoyment reading a master of language talk about language, I was not actually ascribing to the strange and overly picky arguments that erupt when someone publishes a grammatical error on the web. I kind of ignore all those because they seem pompous even if there are careers and jobs based around them, and they could eventually affect how kids learn language in school. They happen often online and with vehemence, rage and extensive arguments. Sometimes they even result in movements like Kill The Apostrophe.
Do we need an apostrophe? Would getting rid of it simply make more our language more complex by making contractions into words of their own right that would evolve separately from their root? Usually changes to language don’t affect the people or understanding of people living during the change, but what about one hundred years from now? Two hundred? Whatever grammar, spelling, and definition changes may happen in my life time, none of them even approach the magnitude of downgrading Pluto’s classification. Pluto, you are still a planet to me.
It’s been a while since I was immersing myself in language education. I feel bad to have not mastered a language other than English, especially because I find the process of learning another language so fascinating.
On the old Bean (nothing but an archive in my home computer now) I wrote up an entire post testing the merits of a handful of online language learning sites. I imagine that most of the information is obsolete now, even though many of the sites still operate and send me news emails regularly.
Anyway, enough boo hooing and reminiscing. FSI Language Courses has texts and mp3s of the language programs developed by the Foreign Service Institute. If you want to learn a language, why not learn the way military and diplomats have before? And do it for free.
I am going to brush up on some stuff right after NaNoWriMo. I promise.
I feel free. John McWhorter has just released my mind from an ingrained belief that I couldn’t end a sentence with a preposition in his essay: Grumpy Grammarian: The Dangling Preposition Myth | New Republic.. You who were schooled around the time I was, when cursive was still graded for its style and clarity, will understand. Certain rules of grammar were pounded into me.
Later, during my studies of great literature, I was able to let go of some elements of proper grammar for the purpose of conveying feeling and character. If I don’t need it when I am speaking with others in life then neither do the folks I write about. I break tons of rules while writing fiction, but when writing professional articles and organizational reports, that last edit for acceptable language always leaves me with dangling prepositions to clean up. Now, I will try not to worry so much about them.
Oh, and John McWhorter is a fabulous master of language who talks about the idiosyncrasies and ridiculousness of language and people’s reaction to it. If you love to read like masters dissect their art as much as I do, and you have not heard of him, go go and read.
If I have not said this before, I love the internet archive. I imagine that the sentiment is shared by anyone trying to dig up old information. I have been saved by books digitized by the internet archive in my work, and in my private genealogy research.
I also love the Public Domain Review. It is almost like a best of the internet archive, in that it pulls out items of interest like the Curiosities of Puritan nomenclature (1888). Of course, the Public Domain Review also highlights items of curiosity in other places all over the net. It is a great place to find archival collections of all sorts that are normally not easy to pull out of a [insert name of search engine here] search.
Now if you, like me, have spent some real time with genealogical research then you have spent time with the nitty gritty of history. You have read over land grants, court transcripts, and small claims; you have dissected the language of historical sketches and town diaries written hundreds of years ago; you have wondered why 15 men within two generations of the same family are named Vine. So books like the Curiosities of Puritan nomenclature (1888) are interesting because they explain why surnames came about at all, where they came from, why there are so many Rogers and Johns, and much more.
Alright, so, in light of Google Reader taking a big dive soon, I have shopped around alternative RSS feed aggregators. I have downloaded my OPML file. And now, I am going through my starred items. I don’t know about you but I’ve used Google Reader’s star function as a kind of memory box. I don’t want all those goodies to just disappear, so some of them are going to end up right here. For example: Morse Code: How to Translate and Use it | The Art of Manliness. I’ve always wanted to learn Morse code as much as I mourn how I’ve forgotten the sign language alphabet my friends and I used to message each other with during junior high science class. I may learn it one day and when that day comes, the Morse code article on The Art of Manliness will be invaluable.
More content from the GReader starred list will be coming your way. Are you ready?
Volapük! That’s what! I never knew this, probably because I never pursued this, but invented languages have been happening throughout time. I love the article: Trüth, Beaüty, and Volapük at The Public Domain Review. Who knew a language could be undone by umlaut?!