Quotulatiousness

February 24, 2018

How to Speak Cockney – Anglophenia Ep 36

Filed under: Britain, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Anglophenia
Published on 26 Aug 2015

Have a butcher’s at this video with your china plates. Not sure what this means? Learn how to speak Cockney rhyming slang with Anglophenia’s Kate Arnell.

February 17, 2018

QotD: Modern forms of argument

Filed under: Humour, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

I’m not sure whether this is an example of Argumentum ad anus extractus, which is the logical fallacy of pulling stuff out of your ass, or Argumentum ad feces fabricatum, which is argument by making shit up.

Tamara Keel, “News to me”, View From The Porch, 2016-06-13.

February 5, 2018

A brief history of plural word…s – John McWhorter

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

TED-Ed
Published on 22 Jul 2013

View full lesson here: https://ed.ted.com/lessons/a-brief-history-of-plural-word-s-john-mcwhorter

All it takes is a simple S to make most English words plural. But it hasn’t always worked that way (and there are, of course, exceptions). John McWhorter looks back to the good old days when English was newly split from German — and books, names and eggs were beek, namen and eggru!

Lesson by John McWhorter, animation by Lippy.

QotD: The Age of Hypocrisy

Filed under: Europe, Germany, History, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Hitler (one cannot mention him without the subliterates mouthing, “Reductio ad Hitlerum!” — not realizing that they are quoting Leo Strauss) was the great enabler. He gave cover to all lesser evils, including the greater of the lesser ones; and thereby retired all the prattling politicians from the Age of Hypocrisy, which he closed. Now all the baddies seemed good, by comparison, and everyone needed a baddie of his own, or they would get one assigned from Berlin.

The Age of Hypocrisy re-opened, of course, with Hitler’s death, when political discourse again softened. (Hypocrisy is the padding on the madhouse walls.) But for a twelve-year run in Germany, and shorter periods wherever their shadow fell, Hitler’s Nazis erased hypocrisy.

This is what Karl Kraus meant, when he said that the Nazis had left him speechless. For decades he had exposed the lies and deceitful posturing not only of politicians in the German-speaking world, but among their immense supporting cast of journalists and fashion-seeking intellectuals. He was the greater-than-Orwell who strode to the defence of the German language, when it was wickedly abused. He identified the new “smelly little orthodoxies” as they crawled from under the rocks of Western Civ — the squalid, unexamined premisses that led by increments to the slaughterhouse of Total War. He was not, even slightly, a revolutionist; he had no argument against anyone’s wealth or status, even his own. Rather, through savage satirical humour, with language untranslatably precise, impinging constantly upon the poetic, he undressed the false.

He had seen the First World War coming, in the malice spreading through the language; in the smugness that fogged perception; in the lies that people told each other, to preserve their amour-propre; in the jingo that lurked beneath the genteel. After, he saw worse.

David Warren, “The decline of requirements”, Essays in Idleness, 2016-06-07.

January 23, 2018

Top Gear – lost in translation

Filed under: Britain, France, Humour, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Jean Girard
Published on 26 Feb 2009

James May and Jeremy Clarkson discover the perils of a literal translation.

January 18, 2018

That Mitchell and Webb Look – “Grammar Nazi” (Mitchell & Webb Sketch Show)

Filed under: Britain, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

David Mitchell
Published on 19 Dec 2017

That Mitchell and Webb Look – “Grammar Nazi” (Mitchell & Webb Sketch Show)

Series: That Mitchell and Webb Look
Episode:
Year: 2007

January 12, 2018

QotD: Gaelic

Filed under: Europe, Humour, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Gaelic (or anything Goidelic or Brythonic) is lost, and for a very simple reason. Once one sees it written down, one loses heart. One doubts that anyone could ever have spoken it aloud. Every word of this “mouth music” looks plainly unpronounceable; and proves unpronounceable to those unprepared from birth to speak it, not only from the centre of the mouth, like an Englishman, but from both sides, and every other part of the anatomy. (Compare: desert Arabic.)

David Warren, “Of mercy & forgiveness”, Essays in Idleness, 2016-06-02.

December 23, 2017

Words as weapons, words as tools

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Government, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In City Journal, Howard Husock looks at the recent media fuss about certain words being “banned” by Trump or the Republicans:

A political tempest arose last week when the Washington Post reported that the Department of Health and Human Services had banned the use of certain words or phrases — “vulnerable,” “science-based,” and “entitlements,” among others — in official budget documents. National Affairs editor Yuval Levin debunked the story, though, finding instead that bureaucrats concerned about offending Republican budget overseers had, in fact, decided to censor themselves. If so, that suggests that the bureaucrats have been reading their George Orwell, who observed in his classic essay “Politics and the English Language” that language is “an instrument which we shape for our own purposes”; they are sharp enough to realize that even neutral terms can constitute mini-arguments. Each of the terms in question — and a great many more — have been weaponized for use in political conflict.

“Vulnerable,” for example, is a substitute for “poor” or “low-income,” but it usually suggests that the person in question should not be considered in any way responsible for his or her situation, because social conditions that transcend individual action have stacked the deck adversely. “Science-based” is a pithy way to characterize the views of one’s political opponents as ignorant or superstitious. The belief that climate change will prove catastrophic is said to be science-based; any view that minimizes the risk constitutes “denial,” another noun that has become an argument. The widely used “entitlement” has also become an argument. The idea that all citizens are “entitled” to certain forms of financial support — checks for those above a certain age, health insurance for those below a certain income — implies no other way of seeing the situation. Those who would change the way entitlements are disbursed, then, are impinging on rights, not programs.

Other examples abound. “Disadvantaged” describes low-income children — while implying that other children are advantaged — and thus that the system is unfair and violates “social justice,” another loaded term. The “homeless,” by and large, are not living on the street but are often doubled up with friends or family; they don’t have their own home, in other words. But the word-picture painted by “homeless” is more powerful. The Right plays the same game. “Death tax” as a substitute for “estate tax,” for example, characterizes a debatable policy as an immoral absurdity.

December 9, 2017

The unique culture that is Quebec

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Paul Wells on the latest blow struck in the never-ending battle against the English language in La Belle Province:

This is the thing about language politics in Montreal. It’s a game with many participants but few spectators. It’s addictive fun to play and unbearable to watch. If you’re not arguing about the state of the fragile equilibrium — standoff? Cold war? — between the local francophone majority and the continental anglophone majority, then you’re just living your life. And living your life is almost always very different from whatever the current argument is about.

The latest argument is so stupid I have avoided it for a week. Probably you have heard anyway. Quebec’s National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution urging merchants to greet customers with a hearty “bonjour! The unstated subtext was that they should stop there and not add an incriminating “Hi!” in English. In fact, in the motion’s original wording, as presented by the Parti Québécois leader Jean-François Lisée, it wasn’t even unstated. The frequent use of “Bonjour-hi” by Montreal merchants was described as an “irritant,” until Quebec premier Philippe Couillard sat down with Lisée and haggled over the motion, line by line, eventually removing the bit about “hi” being an irritant.

Thus amended — essentially, Say ‘bonjour!’ to customers, because the English language is… well, you know — the motion was adapted unanimously by the National Assembly.

Unanimous motions of the National Assembly are believed, by its members and by about three staffers at Le Devoir, to carry a particular weight, because they mark occasions when the representatives of the Québécois nation put aside their differences to speak with one voice in sacred defence of the besieged descendants of France on American soil. Unfortunately, the rush of passing such a motion must be intense to the point of addiction because for many years now, the members of the National Assembly have been passing so many that by now the effect is ruined.

Here is a partial list of unanimous motions going back to 1960, including 15 so far this year alone. Five in November. On Nov. 14, the representatives of the Québécois nation put aside their differences long enough to demand a share of federal subsidies for electric-car recharging stations proportional to Quebec’s share of Canada-wide electric car sales. Come on. I’m a big fan of the National Assembly, but these days, it’s precisely at its most solemn moments that it’s the biggest farce.

October 5, 2017

Time to update your political vocabulary for the era of Corbyn

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In The Spectator, Stephen Daisley provides a great crib sheet to get you up to speed with the new Corbynista words and phrases you need to understand to stay relevant in the Labour Party:

Are you considering a career in Labour politics but fear you may be left behind amid all the exciting changes the party is undergoing?

Maybe you want to be a part of the Jez revolution but can’t get your head around the ever-developing terminology.

Perhaps you are eyeing up a safe seat but aren’t sure which paramilitary cell’s endorsement would most impress the selection panel.

Help is at hand with this guide that takes you through the key terms of Corbynspeak.

Centrist dad: Anyone old enough to remember when Labour was a political party and not an evangelical tent ministry. Owns more than one pair of chinos and only uses Facebook to post ‘FFS’ with links to Owen Jones pieces. Centrist dads just don’t get how politics works in 2017. It’s all about getting people excited by promising to bring change and give them free stuff. That’s never happened before.

Jeremy Corbyn: Substitute father figure for people whose centrist dad didn’t give them enough hugs growing up.

Oh Jeremy Corbyn: The Red Flag for people who don’t know the words to the Red Flag because they only joined the Labour Party five minutes ago.

[…]

Misogyny: It has no place in the Labour Party, save the narrow exception of every woman who has ever disagreed with Jeremy ever.

Slug: Tory. The sort of heartless, racist scum who still hasn’t been convinced to vote for us.

Melt: Blairite. Worse than slugs.

[…]

Racism: Vile prejudice. Totally unacceptable. Victims’ concerns must be taken seriously.

Anti-Semitism: Well, let’s not be hasty. Probably a smear. Victims must be in league with Laura Kuenssberg.

Neoliberalism: The economic arrangements responsible for the laptops, tablets and smartphones Corbynistas use to post memes of Jezza. Also, evil.

Both sides: To blame for terrorism.

Hamas: Not to blame for terrorism.

IRA: They were like Momentum in Ireland or something, right? Pals with Jez. Slugs and melts don’t like them for some reason.

Brexit: A disastrous/progressive/uncertain move, fuelled by xenophobia/working-class discontent/many factors, and is sure to isolate the UK/break up the Brussels capitalist cartel/have an unknown impact. As such, Labour must oppose/lead/express no opinion on the matter. N.B. The party line changes from time to time, so best to avoid taking a clear position. Alternatively, take all three positions at once. Works for Keir Starmer.

September 19, 2017

In praise of ancient Greece

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

In the latest Libertarian Enterprise, Sean Gabb explains why we owe so much today to ancient and classical Greek culture:

The Greeks gave us virtually all our philosophy, and the foundation of all our sciences. Their historians were the finest. Their poetry was second only to that of Homer – and it was they who put together all that we have of Homer, and Homer was himself an early Greek. They gave us ideals of beauty, the fading of which has always been a warning sign of decadence; and they gave us the technical means of recording that beauty. They had no examples to imitate. They did everything entirely by themselves. In a world that had always been at the midnight point of barbarism and superstition, they went off like a flashbulb; and everything good in our own world is part of their afterglow. Every renaissance and enlightenment we have had since then has begun with a rediscovery of the Ancient Greeks.

For the avoidance of doubt, I will not say that the Greeks were perfect. Though remarkable human beings – though the most remarkable human beings – they were still human beings, with all the vices and other failings that come with this. But, if you commit your life to staring into that flood of intense light that was Greece, you will not have lived in vain. And, though I do not despise translations, and would never discourage someone from approaching the Greeks only through translation, I will add that the light is most intense when seen directly, through the medium in which the Greeks themselves thought and spoke and wrote.

There are many reasons for learning Greek. A full discussion of them would amount to an advertisement for my services, and would take longer than I have available for this speech. But I will mention three.

The first is that Greek is inherently a beautiful language, and worth studying for itself alone. There is certainly a thrill to speaking it. Take this line from Homer:

    τὸν δ’ ἀπαμειβόμενος προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς
    To him in answer spake the ever-resourceful Odysseus

For any number of reasons, my pronunciation is corrupt, and no Greek, ancient or modern, would think me other than a barbarian. But say these words, and you are making sounds that were first made when our own ancestors were tattooing their faces and smearing butter into their hair, before perhaps the building of Stonehenge, and when even Rome was no more than a collection of huts not far removed from the stone age.

The second main reason for learning Greek is that we know far less about the Greeks than we would like. So much has been carried away by the ravages of time. For the past six hundred years, a continuous line of scholars in Western Europe, and more recently in America, has laboured to gather and understand all that can be found about the Greeks. Every surviving Greek text has been pressed harder than olives for one of the supermarket chains to give up every possible meaning. Archaeology and all the natural sciences have been put to similar uses. In every century since the fourteenth, we have been able to say at its end that we knew more than at the beginning. But our knowledge remains imperfect. We look on the Greeks as we might on a landscape covered in mist. Here and there, the mist is absent or thinner, and we can be astonished by what we see; and we can hope to extrapolate from what we see to what remains covered.

If you come to the Greeks through translations, it is as if you are looking at that misty landscape though a sheet of coloured glass. Our word translate in Latin, and by extension in French, is traduco. This can mean translate. It can also mean dishonour, degrade or betray. Most translations, whether deliberately or by accident, do all these things to their original. Until very recently, English translators of the classics would labour to conceal the sexual tastes of the Ancients. Many translators labour still, though now to conceal the ancient taste for mood-altering substances. Even otherwise, a translation will not carry over the whole of the original meaning, but will impose on a reader the translator’s view of its meaning. Compare, if you like, my translation of Thucydides with other translations. The basic idea is the same: the choice of words and the balance and even the structure of the statement are different.

This brings me to my third main reason – and here I turn to Latin. If you take individual stories from Homer and put them into translation, they can sometimes work almost as well as they do in Greek. The story of Odysseus in the Cave of Polyphemus is wonderful in itself. So too the story of how Achilles tied the dead body of Hector to his chariot and dragged it about the walls of Troy, and how Priam came out to buy back the body. These stories thrilled me as a child, or moved me to tears. So they can in in any good retelling.

If we turn, however, to Vergil, any translation seems to involve a perceptible loss of impact. Last Easter, I taught some revision courses for A Level Classical Civilisation. One of the modules I covered was Vergil’s The Aeneid in several good English translations. Except for John Dryden’s version, this was my first experience of Vergil in translation. I have said that the translations used were good. They were made by men whose Latin was far better than mine. Compared with the original, however, they were disappointingly flat. Again and again, I would skim the text, looking for the equivalent of some line or phrase that had stamped itself into my memory. Again and again, I was disappointed by the mediocrity of what I made the students read aloud to me.

September 14, 2017

What Is The Funniest Language? – Stephen Fry’s Planet Word – BBC

Filed under: History, Humour, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 24 May 2015

Stephen Fry looks at what he thinks is the funniest language along with comedians Stewie Stone and Ari Teman. Taken from Fry’s Planet Word.

September 4, 2017

How to Pronounce UK Place Names – Anglophenia Ep 23

Filed under: Britain, Humour, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 21 Jan 2015

Anglophenia’s Siobhan Thompson teaches Science Friction’s Rusty Ward — and the rest of America — how to pronounce difficult British place names.

Learn how to pronounce even more British place names here: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/01/pronounce-deliberately-offputting-british-place-names/

Visit the Anglophenia blog: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia

September 2, 2017

QotD: All aboot that Canajan accent, eh?

Filed under: Cancon, Quotations, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

I was also delighted to learn that “rhotacized speech — that is, speech in which the “R” sound is somehow disfigured — tends to be amusing for English speakers.” As an English speaker with a rhotic, Canadian accent, I delight in my English wife’s non-rhotic pronunciations of “hair” (“hehhh”) and “there” (“thehhh”), and often find myself parroting her when she says them to the point where selectively rhoticizing and de-rhoticizing our speech has become a running gag in our family.

Cory Doctorow, “The true story behind the ERMAHGERD meme just makes us love it more”, BoingBoing, 2015-10-16.

August 7, 2017

How to Swear Like a Brit – Anglophenia Ep 29

Filed under: Britain, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 20 May 2015

Swearing is a fun stress reliever, and the British do it so well. Anglophenia’s Kate Arnell provides a master class in swearing like a Brit.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress