The summer issue of Asymptote was published this week with a gorgeous spread of short fiction in translation from Spanish, Croatian, Persian, and more. If you’re not already familiar the journal, it publishes English translations of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and more from across the globe (the website cites 105 countries and 84 languages so far) alongside the original text and often accompanied by audio of the author or translator reading an excerpt in the original language, making it a treasure trove for language nerds and literature lovers alike....more
Posts Tagged: language
For JSTOR Daily, linguist Chi Luu looks at the “my next band name” meme to identify not just trends in pairing interesting words, but also the social phenomenon of how we understand what words mean....more
Twain endorsed the book, saying “Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.”
A 19th century Portuguese-to-English phrase book, English as She Is Spoke, broke the conversational ice between two countries—as well as many funny bones....more
At the Ploughshares blog, Bruna Dantas Lobato shares how learning a new language inspired her writing, and describes the constant, bilingual research required to find the right words:
If writing in a second language is like hunting, I’m both a stalker and an animal who explores the woods, both the archer and the prey.
When we can’t bear to look at the object of our desire straight-on, a metaphor becomes necessary. Over at The Toast, Iona Sharma throws herself into the study of Gaelic, contemplating its beauty and its dwindling use as she unpacks her complicated relationship with Hindi:
Here’s how the story is supposed to end.
At The Establishment, Amelia Shroyer pushes back against the idea that women must self-police their language in order to sound more ‘professional’ (read: like men):
Society has always valued the words of men more than those of women, to the point that men have been credited for discoveries or milestones actually reached by women, and that women have published their work under male pseudonyms just so people would engage with it.
But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff?
At Aeon, Thom Scott-Phillips compares words and images, literature and visual art, to reveal their complementary nature in getting to the point....more
The question of what posture to take toward our own pain is unexpectedly complicated. How do we understand our own suffering—with what words and to what ends?
For the New York Times Magazine, Parul Sehgal questions the terminology we use when talking about sexual assault: from “victim” to “survivor,” either term a kind of interpellation unto itself, possibly infringing on personhood—and all the facets “person” might mean....more
What I have seen, what we have seen, is language forced into the service of violence. A rhetoric of desperation and devastation molded into the incomprehensible, then vomited out in images and words that we cannot ignore though we have tried.
For the NYRB, Tim Parks meditates on writing in English through investigating various authors who made switches from native tongues to the more economically viable lingua franca, like Nabokov and Conrad—or who did the exact opposite, like Jhumpa Lahiri—all in effort to answer the question: Why write in English?...more
The New Yorker profiles Ocean Vuong, who muses on the English language, growing up around women, Frank O’Hara, and the vestigial nature of clichés. And with his first book of poetry published just last week, he addresses the feelings of strangeness that accompany the act of making poetry and writing into a career:
When the poet-novelist Ben Lerner joined the faculty, he introduced Vuong to the notion that a life of writing might be possible.
At JSTOR Daily, linguist Chi Luu looks at language loss in victims of trauma, specifically trauma in wartime. Luu’s case studies range from a monolingual teenaged prisoner isolated in Guantanamo Bay to POWs in Russia isolated from their native cultures and first languages for decades at a time....more
Interpreting someone’s utterance often requires attending not just to its content, but also to the surrounding context. What does a speaker know or not know? What did she intend to convey? Children in multilingual environments have social experiences that provide routine practice in considering the perspectives of others.
For Guernica, Elisa Gabbert explores the incorporation of emoji into language and fiction. Gabbert also addresses the idea of diachronic translations, i.e. translating fiction from one historical era to another, and what place hyper-specific contemporary technology like emoji have in fiction....more