Posts Tagged: language
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
Nothing connects you with a text or an author like being a translator.
Book Riot contributor Rachel Cordasco reached out to twelve literary translators and asked them what inspired them to pursue a career in translation. Their answers will inspire you, too....more
We need to know that the dictionary, as an institution, has a cultural power beyond the sum of its parts…And that does carry with it a responsibility to realize that we exist within that tension, and to not always hide behind the idea of descriptivist lexicography
Over at the New Yorker, Nora Caplan-Bricker compiles stories of problematic dictionary definitions and ultimately calls for dictionaries to reexamine their construction and eliminate sexist definitions....more
But the truth is, it might not be travel so much as languages that inform and inspire me. It’s the defamiliarization that foreign languages provide that makes me want to work harder to appreciate and fully inhabit my own.
Over at Graywolf Press, poet Jennifer Grotz blogs about the unfamiliarity of foreign languages and literary translation....more
Chi Luu writes for JSTOR Daily on the popularity of invented languages, ranging from the mystical language created by a 12th century abbess to contemporary constructed languages such as Esperanto and Klingon.
Invented languages found in literature are really examples of linguistic artistry, language for art’s sake, not necessarily for real world utility or universality….
At the Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance defends teenagers’ ever-maligned contributions to the lexicon, citing a recent student that examines the extent to which teens influence linguistic change:
And the thing about linguistic changes is they can’t exactly be stopped in any sort of deliberate way…Even old-school grammar geeks are warming up to “they” as an acceptable gender-neutral pronoun, understanding that culture doesn’t just trump language rules, it creates them—then destroys them, then creates new ones again.
In the American imagination the black woman, whether light skinned or dark, is already a sexualized entity, a character upon which so many stereotypes are projected. But as a black woman writing these characters, I need to write beyond the stereotypes, expose their idiocy one page at a time.