Language Hat has a good post talking about Robin J. Sowards’ essay in The Minnesota Review encouraging literary critics to study linguistics. The Hat applauds, of course, though with reservations. Best part: he calls Chomsky the Dark Lord of Linguistics.
As a bonus, he throws in an aside on Slovak cursing.
[via Language Hat via Language Log via The Minnesota Review]
For the frequent traveler: how to say kiss my ass in 36 different languages. Nice, though if they included a pronunciation guide, or audio, it would be nicer.
From a site about local motocross racing, naturally.
Update: This list is crap. My Spanish is good enough that I should have realized this, but I pretty much just snickered and posted. Apologies to anyone who used one of these in conversation and was made fun of.
I think some… motocross afficionado, I guess, just typed “kiss my ass” into babelfish a bunch of times, and posted the results. The correct Spanish is, I think, “besa mi culo”, but babelfish gives you “besa mis asno”, which means “kiss my donkey.”
I have separate feed pages set up to follow media and language blogs, and was amused to see The New York Times pissing off both camps earlier this week.
The cause was a review by Kelefa Sanneh of a show by the Toronto band “Fucked Up,” which the Times decided to print as “********”.
Language Log, Languagehat and mediabistro were all full of sturm und drang over the asterisks, for reasons that didn’t make sense to me. Language Log seems to think the Times is being inconsistent, because they once printed the word “shit” when quoting a verbal attack on Eliot Spitzer’s dad. But a dispute involving public figures should be treated differently than punk music reviews. I think both punks and politicians would agree on that. Mediabistro, too, harps on “glaring inconsistencies.” Languagehat calls it “absurd censorship,” without giving a reason. With all due respect to Lenny Bruce, it’s been a while since you were striking a blow against censorship by saying the word “fuck.” While the Languagehat post is terse and unenlightening, the comments on it are far more thoughtful, and worth reading.
I love that The Gray Lady is doing such great things with digital media, and that they seem to be shedding their fear of the future. But the Times should always retain an element of old fashioned propriety, for nostalgia purposes if no other. It should always have a slight Man Men air about it, and holding itself to outdated standards of propriety is a fine way to accomplish that.
And it’s hardly an impediment to good journalism. In fact, the Times writers must love this shit–a little modesty is the perfect setup for fey wordplay and a wink at the reader. Language Log’s own Geoff Nunberg must have thoroughly enjoyed referring to the documentary film Fuck as “the film that dare not speak its name.” Who are we to take this away from him, or the Times writers?
The only criticism that made any sense to me is that it should have been rendered F****D Up, or at least ****** **. In the interests of clarity.
This coming Saturday, November 10, is the second annual Swearing Festival, which is exactly what it sounds like: an exploration and celebration of expletives.
The afternoon program is relatively staid, with a panel of linguists, authors, and publishers talking about cursing. The evening program is pretty much just cursing: competitive cursing, cursing to music, cursing in different languages.
If you’re in the Bay Area (the one near San Francisco, not the Bay of Fundy or Bengal), you might want to check it out.