ricardienne: (york)
I'm working with a book by a 20th century Norwegian scholar named "Eiliv Skard." Awesome name or awesomest name? I feel like he should be a guest character on Deep Space Nine or something. (In fact, he was he was also a resistance fighter during WW2 and survived three concentration camps; he wrote on Latin literature, Roman history, Greek history, European philosophy, and a bunch of other stuff (as far as I can decipher the Norwegian titles) and was writing against Fascism in the 20's. Those scholars back in the good old days, right?) And then I got distracted and started to read all about the Norwegian Language Struggle.
In 1911, the writer Gabriel Scott's comedic play Tower of Babel had its premiere in Oslo. It is about a small town in eastern Norway that is overtaken by proponents of landsmål who take to executing all those who resist their language. The play culminates in the landsmål proponents killing each other over what to call their country: Noregr, Thule, Ultima, Ny-Norig, or Nyrig. The last line is spoken by a country peasant who, seeing the carnage, says: "Good thing I didn't take part in this!"

There was at least one brawl in the audience during the play's run, and the stage was set for a linguistic schism that would characterize Norwegian politics to this day.


YESSssss.
ricardienne: (christine)
Is there a place for unsignaled fallibility in fiction?

What I mean is: real people have incorrect beliefs about things, sometimes from personal ignorance, sometimes from widespread misconception or trendy falsehood. I don't mean about existential questions, but about trivialities. The wrong date for something. An assumption about the nationality of some historical figure. A facile narrative about some scientific or sociological or historical topic. A misstatement about language or art. So when a character in a fiction errs and goes uncorrected, does the error signify an error of the writer, or does it serve to more richly characterize the character and her millieu as one in which such an incorrect belief is held? Does it matter? (The basic distinction here is Watsonian vs. Doyleist, I know.)
one example from a mystery series and two from Vorkosigan Saga fanfiction )
To conclude, I should confess what might be obvious: classical reference in particular makes me sit up and pay attention, and I like to put my pedanticism on display about it. In principle, I think that fiction would do well (and does well?) to dramatize the casual misinformation and misconceptions that float around in the world. I just started to read Plutarch's unbelievably tedious quomodo adolescens audire poetas debeat (text in Greek, Latin title by convention), but I suspect that it should give me more things to think about re: mimesis and what to do with things that intentionally or not misrepresent reality.
ricardienne: (heiro)
This is not about the fact that I have been embarrassing myself when I have to translate in seminar, and have been giving the impression all week that I don't know either Greek or Latin and am not preparing for class at all (none of those things are true).

This is about my niggling obsession with forms of address and social distinctions that are expressed in language. Or aren't expressed (really obviously) in language, as seems to be the case.

So here is an example of what is bothering me today.

A contemporary translation of a bit of Achilles Tatius; Melite, a wealthy woman of Ephesus, is inspecting her estate when a slave woman in chains falls at her feet and makes a plea:
"Have mercy on me, m'lady, as one woman to another. I am free by birth, though now a slave, as Fortune chooses." And so saying, she fell silent.

Melite said: "Stand up, woman. Tell me your name and country and who put these shackles on you. Even in fallen circumstances, your beauty proclaims you a person of no mean birth."

"It was the bailiff," the woman replied, "because I would not submit to his lechery. Lakaina is my name, ma'am, born in Thessaly. I humbly beg your generous ladyship, free me from this awful condition, keep me somewhere safe until I can pay back the two thousand gold pieces that Sosthenes gave the pirates for me. I'll pay if off quick, I promise you. Else I'll wait on you hand and foot, m'lady. Just look here, now, how he's been swinging his lash at my poor back!" And she slipped down part of her dress to show her back cruelly striped with welts.
Meanderings about status-markers and vocatives and translation )
ricardienne: (Default)
Taken from [livejournal.com profile] angevin2

What American accent do you have?
Created by Xavier on Memegen.net

Mid-Atlantic. This is what everyone calls a Philadelphia accent although it's also the accent of south Jersey, Baltimore, and Wilmington. Well, everyone that lives near there, that is. Outsiders can tell you talk differently from them even though they can't tell what your accent is.

If you are not from there, you are probably one of the following:
(a) A New Yorker who, unlike most New Yorkers, rhymes "on" with "dawn"; or
(b) A Yat from New Orleans.
You are probably not from Eastern New England or the Great Lakes area, and certainly not from anywhere in the West or Canada.

Take this quiz now - it's easy!
We're going to start with "cot" and "caught." When you say those words do they sound the same or different?





Ironic, because I was, in fact, born in Philly, although I don't think I was talking when we moved. I probably have my mother's upstate New York accent, I suppose.
ricardienne: (Default)
I have been intermittently thinking about Lois McMaster Bujold and the Aeneid. Or, rather, does killing your main character and then bringing him back to life constitute a Journey to the Underworld and back? It's all sort of compressed: Miles gets self-knowledge (although, interestingly, somewhat delayed self-knowledge) from the experience, whereas someone like Aeneas we actually see receiving information during his trip through Hades. That's actually very characteristic of the series, I think: to take a standard sort of plot and apply it in a sci-fi kind of way. Now I want to go read Memory and see how far this goes.

But the next thing I read for fun, however, after Prometheus Unbound, is going to be Helen Beaton, by Adelaide Rouse. It seems to be a turn of the century (19th-20th, that is) college story -- I shall see how it stacks up against Anne of the Island and Jean Webster's novels. It will also make me wish I were going to an all-girls college in 1910, I suppose. It's such a different world, though: there are so many rules at my college, and I suppose at all colleges and universities and fines if you break them, and disciplinary committees. Whereas in When Patty Went to College they paint the walls of their room, take the doors off the hinges, and paint the furniture, and although they aren't supposed to, the impression is that if you can get away with starting to do it, no one is going to punish you for having done it. At my college, there is now a sign up in the dining hall noting that "Students are forbidden to remove dishes, silverware, or food, from the dining commons" with the appropriate punishments for first-time and recidivist offenders. (The dishes and silverware I can understand, but the food? And they still have paper plates and cups and plastic forks out. I do not get it.) It isn't that I don't understand why a modern college needs to have all of these rules and regulations, but it does make one wax nostalgic for a time when they mostly trusted people to behave, and to be sufficiently embarrassed by admonishment as to make worse things more or less unnecessary. Of course, these people are from a very elite, very small group of people who all can be counted on to share the proper feelings and respect the boundaries. We oi( polloi/ need to be kept in line

And on that note of the degredation of college culture, in celebration of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I present the following (if you haven't already seen it):
ricardienne: (chord)
Was not horrible, tonight.

During the Idomeneo overture, I actually started to enjoy myself. In the places where the violins weren't screwing up their runs it sounded good, and hitting those V-I cadences really felt good. That's the best part of playing cello, I think, in orchestra. Bass lines! Wheee!

The other cellist had to leave midway for a chemistry study group, which left me be the entire section for the second half. And you know what, I enjoyed it. I'm horrible: I pretend to be a team player, to be a humble section-member, to not want solos etc etc, but secretly, I really playing alone, being noticed. Of course, it means that I have to play all the right notes, but I managed quite well, thank you very much.

Sadly, our concertmaster is out with tendonitis. This is really too bad, as he was not just a good player, but a good leader, and actually led the strings… it's really pathetic when the principal cellist has to be the one to comment that the violins might be better together if they were lifting for the double-down bow, and so not ending up at the tip, I think.

During Latin today, I brought up "redoubtable" as an example of this older secondary meaning of "fear" that is connected with to doubt. Granted, it's pretty much archaic, now.

According to the OED, it's the "II" definition, and is a "a development of the verb in OF., was an early and very prominent sense of the vb. and its derivatives in ME." Which is not very helpful. The professor couldn't tell me anything more; I shall ask my literature professor tomorrow. Because I just don't see the connection.

Okay. Doubting --> uncertainty --> suspicion -->apprehension --> fear(?) Maybe.

About redoubt(ed)(able), however, it can tell me that it also comes from the French, and has an Old Italian cognate: ridottare. So to me this indicates that it's an early Romance branching off, where "dubitare" gets this extra meaning of fear, which, when intensified to "redubitare" becomes specific to fear. But I want to know WHY! And HOW! Sort of like the distinction of respectful vs. informal in the second person singular: why? When? How? Argh. So many questions.

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