Oooh! Linguistic tidbit!
Watched last night’s premiere of HBO’s adaptation of George R.R. Martin‘s A Game of Thrones, and overall they did a damned good job. I understand why they aged the younger Stark children a few years, but I think Lady Stark still should have been younger. Peter Dinklage promises to be a fantastic Tyrion. And of course, I adore Sean Bean. Also, the sets and locations and costumes and… well, the worldbuilding in general looks really gorgeous: just earthlike enough not to be a distraction and just alien enough to remind us subtly that this is not somewhere familiar.
And of course I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention that what we’ve heard of the Dothraki language so far is just delicious. David J. Peterson did a bang-up job there. But then, from what I know of David from the Conlang mailing list, I’d have expected nothing less.
I do have one gigantic bone to pick with HBO, though, and it’s spoilery, so I’m putting it behind the cut.
I’m always up for exploring some curious new (to me) feature of language. The seemingly exorbitant number of noun cases in Finnish, for example. The world’s languages are full of cool little devices that most monoglot anglophones would never dream exist.
For that matter, English used to have a few of its own that have fallen by the wayside over the centuries. The Language Log has just introduced me to a new one. Apparently, our current progressive passive construction (“It is being fixed.”) is a fairly new invention. A couple of hundred years ago, the proper grammatical construction for expressing this sort of thing? The passival.
This is probably the coolest use the internet has: to get images of unique historic artifacts out where everyone can see them.
Have a look at the Codex Gigas, also known as the Devil’s Bible.
I’m enough of a book geek that I’ll frequently choose a trip to a used bookstore over going to a movie. Which is what my husband and I did last night and came away with three bags of goodies.
Among the “new” acquisitions: beginners’ books on learning Persian and Japanese, a quotation dictionary, a handful of paperback novels, a couple of DVDs… it’s better than chocolate.
Sen trí naca a hna kai etÓftó aŋrinarŧ urarnún.
Which, of course, is proto-Túfóžan for:
May the new year bring happiness to you all.
Been poking around in my conlangs today, which I haven’t done for some time and I’m considering adding yet another noun case to Proto-Túfóžan. It has 46 already, so I’m leery about the prospect of adding another, but I think I may really need it, especially if I want to avoid creating adpositions (at least at this stage).
For those of you who may not know, 46 is more than three times the number of noun cases in Finnish, which is considered case-heavy among natlangs.
On the other hand, at least I haven’t caught up to Ithkuil yet. It has 81.
I’ve always loved Stephen Fry. Nothing against Hugh Laurie, of course, but given the choice between the two, I’m afraid I’ve always favored Fry. Perhaps because he’s always been a bit drier, a bit smoother, a bit more, well, quintessentially British in my eyes than his former partner-in-comedy. And this opinion, I promise you, dates back to long before I even knew Laurie was capable of doing such a good imitation of an American accent.
But this is new. Stephen Fry has just elevated himself not only onto my blogroll but onto my own personal list of People Who Get It:
Words are free and all words, light and frothy, firm and sculpted as they may be, bear the history of their passage from lip to lip over thousands of years. How they feel to us now tells us whole stories of our ancestors.
And that’s just two sentences. Go, please, and read the rest. Yes, it is a rather long piece, but, Gods, is it beautiful. And true. And I’m still arguing with myself as to which of those adjectives is the more important.
If anyone ever tells you that Elizabethan Secretary hand is easy to learn, they are lying. That minuscule ‘r’ that looks a bit like a modern ‘w’ is a bitch, with a litter of puppies, and I have only four-letter words when it comes to the majuscules ‘I’, ‘R’, ‘S’, ‘K’, ‘N’, and ‘A’.
In the “learn something new every day” department, I just found out from a fellow linguaphile that the term “southpaw” (left-handed person) originated on the baseball field.
Traditionally, home plate is on the west side of a baseball field, so if a pitcher is facing home plate, his right hand is to the north and his left is to the south.