Category Archives: Reference

English with a Twist

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We just added this fine “Blog About Learning The English Language to our blogroll.

Learn Early Indo-European Languages Online

IEMap
Learn how to read Sanskrit, Hittite, Avestan, Old Persian, Classical Greek, Latin, Koine Greek, Gothic, Classical Armenian, Tocharian, Old Irish, Old English, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic, Old French, Old Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Albanian in ten lessons apiece.

From the Introduction to the Language Lessons by Jonathan Slocum and Winfred P. Lehmann:”Recent advances in determining the origin of western civilization and the settlement of Europe are based especially on findings in genetics, archeology and linguistics. The papers on the topic given at a conference that brought together eminent specialists in these fields under organization of the Banco Popolare di Milano have been published in Italian under the title Le radici prime dell’Europa. Gli intrecci genetici, linguistici, storici, edited by Gianluca Bocchi and Mauro Ceruti (Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2001). While these three sciences all provide information on the settlement, only through linguistics can the people involved be identified. Yet linguistics dealing with the early period is least advanced of the three. Moreover, grammars published as introductions to the early languages are produced on the pattern of those designed for instruction of secondary school students of years past, who were expected to take eight years of Latin, six of Greek, and then proceed to the study of Sanskrit and other less widely studied languages like Old Slavic, Armenian, and Avestan. Under curricula of today, few scholars find such a course of study acceptable.

Moreover, the important ability with respect to these languages is that of reading texts, with or without the help of translations. The online introductions in Early Indo-European Online are designed to provide such ability. In this series, texts that in themselves are valuable for literary and historical as well as linguistic purposes are briefly introduced, glossed word-by-word, followed by grammatical descriptions, and accompanied by a complete glossary, a base-form dictionary, and an English meaning index. “

Early Indo-European Online

Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase

english victorian era
Passing English of the Victorian era, a dictionary of heterodox English, slang and phrase is complied and written by James Redding Ware, the pseudonym of Andrew Forrester the British writer who created one of the first female detectives in literary history in his book The Female Detective (1863). In this posthumously published volume Forrester turns his attention to the world of Victorian slang, in particular that found in the city of London.

You can get the book in various formats at Open Library here.

From the Preface:
HERE is a numerically weak collection of instances of ‘Passing English’. It may be hoped that there are errors on every page, and also that no entry is ‘quite too dull’. Thousands of words and phrases in existence in 1870 have drifted away, or changed their forms, or been absorbed, while as many have been added or are being added. ‘Passing English’ ripples from countless sources, forming a river of new language which has its tide and its ebb, while its current brings down new ideas and carries away those that have dribbled out of fashion. Not only is ‘Passing English’ general ; it is local ; often very seasonably local. Careless etymologists might hold that there are only four divisions of fugitive language in London west, east, north and south. But the variations are countless. Holborn knows little of Petty Italia behind Hatton Garden, and both these ignore Clerkenwell, which is equally foreign to Islington proper; in the South, Lambeth generally ignores the New Cut, and both look upon Southwark as linguistically out of bounds; while in Central London, Clare Market (disappearing with the nineteenth century) had, if it no longer has, a distinct fashion in words from its great and partially surviving rival through the centuries the world of Seven Dials, which is in St Giles’s St James’s being ractically in the next parish. In the East the confusion of languages is a world of ‘ variants ‘ there must be half-a-dozen of Anglo-Yiddish alone all, however, outgrown from the Hebrew stem. ‘Passing English’ belongs to all the classes, from the peerage class who have always adopted an imperfection in speech or frequency of phrase associated with the court, to the court of the lowest costermonger, who gives the fashion to his immediate entourage.

Some examples

Arsworm:
a little diminutive Fellow.

Blobber-lipp’d:
very thick, hanging down, or turning over.

Chounter:
to talk pertly, and (sometimes) angrily.

Dimber-Damber:
a Top-man or Prince among the Canting Crew.

Ebb-water:
when there’s but little Money in the Pocket.

Fustiluggs:
a Fulsom, Beastly, Nasty Woman.

Green-bag:
a Lawyer.

Hanktelo:
a silly Fellow, a meer Cods-head.

Itch-land:
Wales.

Jingle-brains:
a Maggot-pated Fellow.

Keaping Cully:
one that Maintains a Mistress, and parts with his Money very generously to her.

Loblolly:
any ill-cookt Mess.

Member-mug:
a Chamber-pot.

Napper of napps:
a Sheep-stealer.

Oliver’s skull:
a Chamber-pot.

Purse-proud:
haughty because Rich.

Queere Duke:
a poor decayed Gentleman; also a lean, thin, half Starved Fellow.

Rustygutts:
an old blunt Fellow.

Scrubado:
the Itch.

Top-heavy:
Drunk.

Urinal of the Planets:
Ireland … because of its frequent and great Rains.

Varlets:
Rogues, Rascals.

Word-pecker:
One that plays with Words.

Xantippe:
a Scold.

Yoak’d:
Married.

Zuche:
a wither’d or dry Stock or Stub of a Tree.

Shitschturm – The Controversial Rise of Denglisch

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“The word “shitstorm” was institutionalized in the latest edition of Duden, the most-respected German-language dictionary, which was published in July,” writes Karina Martinez-Carter at Slate. “The English profanity had previously spread through the ranks of German society, even working its way into German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s vocabulary. She employed the word in a public meeting—Germanized in pronunciation to “shitschturm”—to describe the eurozone crisis.

The English compound word “flashmob” also was given its own listing in the Duden earlier this year. With terms like “flashmob” and the newly adopted “shitstorm,” the German language society Verein Deutsche Sprache criticized the German language bible for diluting the language and incorporating too many Anglicisms. The society awarded Duden its “adulterator of the language” title, with the society’s chairman stating, “Whoever suggests the ridiculous and phoney Anglicism soccer as a replacement for Fussball richly deserves this [award].”

In today’s globalized world, languages freely borrow from each other, and with German and English stemming from the same family of languages, cross-pollination occurs with particular ease, both in adopting full words into the lexicon and creating hybrids. In fact, a language term exists for this blending of English words into German words, phrases, or sentences: “Denglisch.”

Read on at Slate.

Photo by TORSTEN SILZ/AFP/Getty Images

Etymologicon & Story English In 100 Word


English is a wonderful, but infamously tricksy, thing. These two gripping reads will shed some light on just why this is, in an amusing, thought-provoking and enlightening way. Let Mark Forsyth take you on a tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language that takes in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, the Rolling Stones and gardening in The Etymologicon. Join David Crystal as he tells The Story of English in 100 Words, drawing on the words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word was written down in the fifth century (‘roe’, in case you are wondering).

Above all, rejoice in discovering a little more about the secrets behind the world’s most ubiquitous language.

‘I’m hooked on Forsyth’s book … Crikey, but this is addictive’ – Mathew Parris, The Times, October 13

‘One of the books of the year. It is too enjoyable for words.’ – Henry Coningsby, Bookseller

‘The Etymologicon, contains fascinating facts’ – Daily Mail, October 24

‘Kudos should go to Mark Forsyth, author of The Etymologicon … Clearly a man who knows his onions, Mr Forsyth must have worked 19 to the dozen, spotting red herrings and unravelling inkhorn terms, to bestow this boon – a work of the first water, to coin a phrase.’ – Daily Telegraph

‘The stocking filler of the season… How else to describe a book that explains the connection between Dom Pérignon and Mein Kampf, ‘ – Robert McCrum, The Observer

‘A perfect bit of stocking filler for the bookish member of the family, or just a cracking all-year-round-read. Highly recommended.’
- Matthew Richardson, The Spectator, 15 Nov

Available at amazon.uk

Omniglot – An encyclopedia of writing systems and languages.


Omniglot was set up in 1998 by Simon Ager who has been maintaining and developing the site since then.

It contains:
-Details of more than 180 writing systems, including Abjads, Alphabets, Abugidas, Syllabaries and Semanto-phonetic scripts
-Information about over 500 languages
-More than 300 con-scripts
-Writings systems invented by visitors of the site
-Tips on learning languages
-Language-related articles
-Useful foreign phrases in more than 150 languages with quite a few audio recordings
-Texts, language names, country names, colours and songs in many languages
-A language book store
-Links to language-related resources

You can find a guide to the contents of Omniglot on the sitemap, and a list of all the writing systems and languages featured on the site in the A-Z index.

Online dictionaries: which is best?


The Guardian: “The new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will be online-only. Many of its rivals – Collins, Chambers et al – have already launched free web versions. But which one is the wordsmith’s best friend?

Sad news for those of us with fond memories of long minutes lost in the more arcane histories of English words: the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, which a team of 80 lexicographers has been working on since 1989, will probably never be printed. “The print dictionary market is just disappearing,” Oxford University Press CEO Nigel Portwood told a Sunday newspaper. It will still be available online – in fact, in December, the web version is being relaunched, including for the first time the historical thesaurus of the OED, which contains almost every word in English from Old English to the present. The problem is that it is a tad pricey: £7 plus VAT for a week’s access; £205 plus VAT for a year. Luckily, there are alternatives.”

Brush Up On Your 17th-century Slang

Neatorama: “The Bodleian Library is publishing a new edition of the first English language dictionary of slang, which has been out of print for 300 years.

Originally entitled A New Dictionary of Terms, Ancient and Modern, of the Canting Crew, its aim was to educate the polite London classes in ‘canting’ – the language of thieves and ruffians – should they be unlucky enough to wander into the ‘wrong’ parts of town.

With over 4,000 entries, the dictionary contains many words which are now part of everyday parlance, such as ‘Chitchat’ and ‘Eyesore’ as well as a great many which have become obsolete, such as the delightful ‘Dandyprat’ and ‘Fizzle’.

Here are some examples to whet your appetite:
Cackling-farts, c. Eggs.
Farting-crackers, c. Breeches.
Grumbletonians, Malecontents, out of Humour with the Government, for want of a Place, or having lost one.
Mutton-in-long-coats, Women. A Leg of Mutton in a Silk-Stocking, a Woman’s Leg.

You can view the definitions of Arsworm, Bumfodder, Dandyprat, Humptey-Dumptey, and many more at the Bodleian Library link.

Link

The Web of Language

The University of Illinois presents Dennis Baron’s go-to site for language in the news. Nice one.

Link of the day – Linguee

Today I was translating the press release for a book on the German fantasy pioneer Alexander Moritz Frey. Frey spent time on the front in World War I with Hitler, and one particular word that was giving me trouble was the position in the army that Hitler held upon enrollment – in German ‘Meldegänger’. On this occasion neither my standard book sources nor my favorite online dictionary LEO.org were of much assistance, so I checked his Wikipedia entries in both German and English to see whether they could give me any leads. A quick inspection of the relevant Wikipedia pages suggested to me that the word ‘Runner’ might be the appropriate translation, but I couldn’t just jump ahead and use that without any further confirmation. I googled a little more and found this great website – www.linguee.de.  It searches through bilingual German – English translations available on the web and pulls them up together with the reference sites. Each entry includes sentences with your target words for comparison, together with accuracy ratings. I found a number of credible sources that also used ‘Runner’ as the translation for ‘Meldegänger’ and was thrilled to be able to proceed with the translation without incident. Well worth a look if you are serious about German – English translation and a hell of a lot more useful than Google Translate! Check it out!

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