Posts Tagged: language

The Art of Inventing Language

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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….

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It’s Literally Fine

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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.

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The Making of the OED

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The Oxford English Dictionary, the first comprehensive catalog of the English language, took seventy years to compile. Volunteers aided the project, and one of the biggest contributors happened to be a murderer who lived in an insane asylum:

Through the years, the OED’s editor had enlisted hundreds of volunteers around the English-speaking world, and probably took for granted that a mysterious stranger was happy to cite word usage for him all day, because he was editing the most ambitious lexicographical project in the English language to date.

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Kingsnorth, Paul (Jyoti Kingsnorth)

The Rumpus Interview with Paul Kingsnorth

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Author and poet Paul Kingsnorth talks about writing an entire novel in a “shadow-tongue” of Old English, and what that taught him about our contemporary world. ...more

2015, Year of the Badass Woman?

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As it’s most commonly used, badass implies both toughness and disaffectedness. It’s rare to look at someone whose chief qualities are measured thoughtfulness and open emotionality and declare her a total badass.

Ijeoma Oluo, Naomi Yang, Eudora Welty—these women are creative and powerful and assertive, yes, but should we call them “badass”?

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Spelling Reformed

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At The Awl, Annie Abrams gives the history of a 19th-century newspaper, Di Anglo-Sacsun, and its editors’ attempts to make literacy more available to the public, by developing their own phonetic alphabet that the newspaper was written in. Abrams also dives into the controversy surrounding the name of the paper:

Andrews and Boyle pointedly explained that they did not choose the title “in a partisan or national spirit, or with a view to render prominent the dysfunction between the different branches of the human brotherhood,” but instead “because it seems to us to contain a proper allusion to the language which it is our primary object to reform.”

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You Don’t Mess with Shakespeare

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Shakespeare is about the intoxicating richness of the language… It’s like the beer I drink. I drink 8.2 per cent I.P.A., and by changing the language in this modernizing way, it’s basically shifting to Bud Light. Bud Light’s acceptable, but it just doesn’t pack the punch and the excitement and the intoxicating quality of that language.

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On The Beauty of Words

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At Book Riot, Aram Mrjoian explores the question of what makes a sentence beautiful. He conjectures that our brain becomes overwhelmed when it sees words organized and used in a way that is beyond its imagination:

Maybe, when words are amalgamated together into some combination that we could never imagine, our brains need a split second to allow the synapses to fire and connect, creating a stronger mental tie to the language that binds us together as humans.

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Language as Passive-Aggression

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At the Atlantic, Megan Garber proposes a new word to describe words and phrases that have come to mean their opposite, like “honestly,” “no offense,” and “literally”:

So here’s one proposal: Let’s call these words “smarmonyms.” Because they’re the words that exist because we English-speakers can be, at times, awkward and passive-aggressive and jerky and, yes, a little bit smarmy.

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SusanBarker_Credit Derek Anson (small)

The Rumpus Interview with Susan Barker

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Susan Barker discusses her third novel, The Incarnations, writing dialogue in a second language, the Opium Wars and Chinese history, and the years of research that went into her book. ...more