Disorder of a Man of Letters — Xah's Belles-lettres

from the haughty emotions of English lexicon, stylistic concerns, decipherment of grammar & idioms, linguisticality, literature & literality, and logicality.

English Accent: British Accent 📺

revamped index. Wordy English: Vocabulary Compilation with Usage Examples

word of the day: polygynous, inimical

Meanwhile, male parental investment also makes the man's naturally polygynous bent inimical to his wife's reproductive interests.

GRE Words, page 9

word of the day: Prostrating

Prostrating myself mentally before my Guide, I cried, “How it is, O divine ideal of consummate loveliness and wisdom that I see thy inside, and yet cannot discern thy heart, thy lungs, thy arteries, thy liver?”

SECTION 18. — How I came to Spaceland, and what I saw there

Several contrivances of the author to please the king and queen. Gulliver's Travels. PART II. A VOYAGE TO BROBDINGNAG

Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2013-09 〜 2013-09

How to Tell the Difference Between Chinese, Japanese, Korean?

English Accent: Scottish Accent 📺 (updated, new video, Scottish referendum debate)

word of the day: boustrophedon Words, page 4

word of the day: expletives galore.

wold: n. An unforested rolling plain; a moor.

On her fair bosom caskets twain I scanned,
Sealed fast with musk seals lovers to withstand.
With arrowy glances stand on guard her eyes,
Whose shafts would shoot who dares put forth a hand.

The Third Kalandar's Tale

That man that hath a tongue, I say, is no man, If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.

—good old William Shakespeare

see also 《The Tragedy Of Titus Andronicus》 by Shakespeare

coitus interruptus, is when, you started and got interrupted.

Unicode is quite interesting, not just for fun emoticons 👽 and math ∑. Because, when you go deep, it is about ALL grapheme and logographs and symbols of ALL human's writing systems, past and present. Unicode Characters ☢ ☯ ☭ ∑ ∞ ♀ ♂ ♥

from a interesting post by John Baez, at https://plus.google.com/117663015413546257905/posts/3Lf4USCBB2b


Poetry: Brevity of a Woman's Life: To His Coy Mistress

xah's rumination extempore! con equipment

rumination «c.1600, “act of ruminating; act of meditating,” from Latin ruminationem (nominative ruminatio) “a chewing the cud,” noun of action from past participle stem of ruminare (see ruminate).»

extempore «1550s (adv.), 1630s (n.), from Latin phrase ex tempore “offhand, in accordance with (the needs of) the moment,” literally “out of time,” from ex “out of” (see ex-) + tempore, ablative of tempus (genitive temporis) “time” (see temporal). Of speaking, strictly “without preparation, without time to prepare,” but now often with a sense merely of “without notes or a teleprompter.”»

fixed the random page button problem. Go to top of this page and click it. Now it doesn't almost always point you to some novels.

Hackers and the Foobar Phrase

The Game “go”, 碁 vs 棋, Japanese & Chinese

when you see a word that's spell'd wrong but used by others often, you deem it eyesore. like, wtf.

Some Japanese chars are like that to Chinese. The char 碁 (meaning “board game”) in Japanese is like that.

about the char's etymology, i think it was original a Chinese char, but fell out of use. We use the char 棋 instead.

also, many terms in English came from Japan leaves a bad taste for chinese. Because, it was Chinese. The go game, is one example. It's known as “go” because it came from the character 碁 used in Japan, is pronounced “go”. The character in is pronounced “qi2” in Chinese, same as 棋.

it's known by Japanese name because Japanese popularized the game in 1990s. (while chinese is doing sino-jap war and civil war and Mao and cultural revolution)

a proper name in English for the game would be “surround game”, or “surround chess”.

writing & publishing: content vs grammar

you have 2 choices.

if content is more important, then ① is better. later on you can edit. first you need to get the content out, when you have 10 million things in your head.

but of course, if you are concerned about readership (aka marketing), then ② is more important. because, when a book doesn't have a attractive cover, it gets no sniffing.

comment at https://plus.google.com/+XahLee/posts/7hrk51biRBy

The Moronicities of Typography: Hyphen, Dash, Quotation Marks, Apostrophe (minor update)

Mono ⭐〈Slimcea Girl〉 🎶

Mono ⭐〈Ingénue〉 🎶

café, décor, déjà vu, résumé, risqué, étude, fiancée, Ingénue, crème de la crème, ménage à trois, coup de grâce, mêlée, my rôle, raison d'être, zoölogy, reënact, naïve, Chloë, façade. Accent Marks: Trema, Umlaut, Macron, Circumflex, and All That (repost)

Garden Path Sentence

These are called Garden path sentence.

A garden path sentence is a grammatically correct sentence that starts in such a way that a reader's most likely interpretation will be incorrect; the reader is lured into a parse that turns out to be a dead end.

THE ETYMOLOGY OF SHORTY IN HIP HOP An absurdly nerdy look at how hip hop invented the most important slang of our time. By Matthew Daniels. @ http://www.mdaniels.com/shorty/

What Desires Are Politically Important? (by Bertrand Russell)

the left is sinister, if u know what i mean.

sinister «early 15c., “prompted by malice or ill-will, intending to mislead,” from Old French senestre, sinistre “contrary, false; unfavorable; to the left” (14c.), from Latin sinister “left, on the left side” (opposite of dexter), of uncertain origin. Perhaps meaning properly “the slower or weaker hand” [Tucker], but Klein and Buck suggest it's a euphemism (see left (adj.)) connected with the root of Sanskrit saniyan “more useful, more advantageous.” With contrastive or comparative suffix -ter, as in dexter (see dexterity).»

dexterity « 1520s, from Middle French dexterité (16c.), from Latin dexteritatem (nominative dexteritas) “readiness, skillfulness, prosperity,” from dexter “skillful,” also “right (hand)” (source of Old French destre, Spanish diestro, etc.), from PIE root *deks- “on the right hand,” hence “south” to one facing east (cognates: Sanskrit daksinah “on the right hand, southern, skillful;” Avestan dashina- “on the right hand;” Greek dexios “on the right hand,” also “fortunate, clever;” Old Irish dess “on the right hand, southern;” Welsh deheu; Gaulish Dexsiva, name of a goddess of fortune; Gothic taihswa; Lithuanian desinas; Old Church Slavonic desnu, Russian desnoj). The Latin form is with the comparative suffix -ter, thus meaning etymologically “the better direction.” Middle English dester meant “right hand,” and in heraldry dexter means “on the right side.”»

and from which, righteousness sprang forth.

〈The Tell-Tale Heart〉 By Edgar Allan Poe

〈The Autumn Of The Patriarch〉 by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As a free man, Andy had been a rockhound, so he asks Red to get him a rock hammer, a tool he uses to shape the rocks he finds in the exercise yard into small sculptures.

Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

Rockhounding = Amateur geology. See Rockhounding

vocabulary: Whopping, looms large

Super Computer. Whopping 16 Mega bytes of RAM.

For these reasons the PDP-10 looms large in early hacker folklore.

computer dec PDP-10 1090  1968
computer dec PDP-10 1090, 1968. img src

rectification of english: whose vs who's

what does whose mean? whose = who's = who has = who is. Depending on context. this is called, function follows form, and is part of the theology of formal language.

Vocabulary: tween, fettered

learned a new word today: tween

A simple Twitter search reveals thousands of teens and tweens with accounts and handles dedicated to their favorite famous “friends.” It's easy for them to think of celebrities as at least potential friends, after all. Where previous generations might pine over posters on their bedroom walls or write mushy love letters to a generic fan mail address, teens today have direct and almost unfettered access to their idols thanks to Twitter. Through the platform, teens can broadcast their thoughts not only to friends, family, and virtual peers, but to celebrities and public figures. (To a lesser extent, Instagram and Facebook serve this purpose as well.)

from 〔The Psychology of Begging to Be Followed on Twitter By Kayleigh Roberts. @ http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/02/the-psychology-of-begging-to-be-followed-on-twitter/283947/

A tween is a person who is between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. The term is often described in popular media as referring to a preadolescent (usually female) who is at the “in-between” stage in their development when they are considered “too old for toys, too young for boys”. However, the word is older than its present use as an advertising gimmick. The word tween dates at least back to the late 1930s when J.R.R. Tolkien used it to describe that age of irresponsibility after teenage.

Tween (demographic)

see also:

(and I with both hands pinioned and both feet fettered) and was about to bandage my eyes before striking…

The First Kalandar's Tale

“O our lord Alaeddin, excuse us nor be thou wroth with us; for the King hath commanded that we carry thee before him pinioned and fettered, and we hope pardon from thee because we are under the royal orders which we cannot gainsay.”

Aladdin: Moving of the Pavilion

If this be so, whatever may be left for our unfettered volitions is of little value.

Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization? (Bertrand Russell)

History in Downton Abbey

a word i learned from watching Hunger Games Catching Fire.

spile ① a peg or plug of wood, esp. one used as a spigot ② a spout for conducting sap from the sugar maple.

for the ♥ ♥ ♥ occasion the Story of Cupid and Psyche

apostrophe should be ban'd

in recent half-a-year, am beginning to think that apostrophe should be ban'd.

and, just came upone this Wikipedia passage:

George Bernard Shaw, a proponent of English spelling reform on phonetic principles, argued that the apostrophe was mostly redundant. He did not use it for spelling cant, hes, etc. in many of his writings. He did, however, allow I'm and it's.[64] Hubert Selby, Jr. used a slash instead of an apostrophe mark for contractions and did not use an apostrophe at all for possessives. Lewis Carroll made greater use of apostrophes, and frequently used sha'n't, with an apostrophe in place of the elided “ll” as well as the more usual “o”.[65][citation needed] These authors' usages have not become widespread.

Over the years, the use of apostrophes has been criticised. George Bernard Shaw called them “uncouth bacilli”. In his book American Speech, linguist Steven Byington stated of the apostrophe that “the language would be none the worse for its abolition.” Adrian Room in his English Journal article “Axing the Apostrophe” argued that apostrophes are unnecessary and context will resolve any ambiguity.[67] In a letter to the English Journal, Peter Brodie stated that apostrophes are “largely decorative…[and] rarely clarify meaning”.[68] Dr. John C. Wells, Emeritus Professor of Phonetics at University College London, says the apostrophe is “a waste of time”.[67]

see also The Moronicities of Typography: Hyphen, Dash, Quotation Marks, Apostrophe

Those studying SAT, GRE, vocabularies: note that many such prep books add words from dictionary without much discretion. For example, words found in Shakespear will almost never show up in journalism. So, if you want to increase vocabulary, don't take the brute force approach of trying to memorize every word in dict, as i've done some 3 decades ago.

学习英文 SAT, GRE 的同学,注意,很多词汇书乱加字典里的字。好像莎士比亚的字,一辈子都不会在报章杂志上用到。背字一定要由浅入深。这有很多。是我学英文记下的。供参考。英语:词汇汇编与用法示例。

Wordy English: Vocabulary Compilation with Usage Examples

“Fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk”. What does that mean? See: FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2013-03 〜 2013-03

and, of course, the word pork should be ban'd. It's called pig meat.

Q: what did you eat for dinner?

A: i had pig flesh.

and thus the world has a tidbit more of unwavering truth.

pork «c.1300 (early 13c. in surname Porkuiller), “flesh of a pig as food,” from Old French porc “pig, swine, boar,” and directly from Latin porcus “pig, tame swine,” from PIE *porko- “young swine” (cf. Umbrian purka; Old Church Slavonic prase “young pig;” Lithuanian parsas “pig;” and Old English fearh, Middle Dutch varken, both from Proto-Germanic *farhaz).»

The History of English in 10 Minutes, Annotated

Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2013-02 〜 2013-02

Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies. The word “tilt”, in this context, comes from jousting.

The phrase is sometimes used to describe confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or to courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications. It may also connote an importune, unfounded and vain effort against confabulated adversaries for a vain goal.

Wilt Thou Gallantly Tilt at Windmills?

Wilt Thou Galantly Tilt at Windmills?

〔Julie Taymor's 〈Titus〉 DVD. amazon

Why, there they are, both baked in this pie, Whereof their mother daintily hath fed, Eating the flesh that she herself hath bred. —《Titus Andronicus》: Act 5 Scene 3

Julie Taymor's Titus; Screenshots

Google defines “madcap” as

what kinda diluted milk is that?

my fav dict, the American Heritage, gives

“Behaving or acting impulsively or rashly; wild.”

now, that's respect to language.

madcap «1580s, noun and adjective, from mad (adj.) + cap, used here figuratively for “head.” Related: Madcappery.»

words & art: languid, habitués, madcap

Her work reflects the neoclassical revival of the 1920s, to which Picasso contributed with his colossal seaside nudes. Lempicka belongs to the line of painters, extending through Jacques-Louis David and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, who stress sharp outlines and sculptural mass. Indeed, a contemporary critic, noting Lempicka's heavy, languid forms and polished surfaces, called her “the perverse Ingres of the Machine Age.” She admired Botticelli, Antonello da Messina, and Mannerists like Bronzino and Pontormo, with their refined, armored style. Her subjects were the glittering habitués of postwar Paris café society, where new money met old and where cosmopolitan refugees mixed with Jazz Age entertainers and madcap youth.

from Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars amazon

Portrait of Doctor Boucard

Art of Tamara de Lempicka

Time Machine by H G Wells

Vocabulary in 《A Tale of Two Cities》

prince kiss song screenshot 30875
Prince & Wendy Melvoin

This defines the word “funky”. Watch the caper and caprice, prance and tug — a play of youthful love birds.

Prince ⭐〈Kiss〉 🎶

English Writing: to An or Not to An

The exigency of mating: when you are coming, everything else is irrelevant, even death. Blondie ⭐〈Atomic〉 🎶

when the pressures of life impinges you, feign death.

the Diva Dance Song from The Fifth Element 🎶

what language is that? A site tests you skills. http://greatlanguagegame.com/play/

On the Naming of Eigenvector and the Igon Value Problem

euphemism & dysphemism

in the language of human animals, there's “yes” and “no”.

yes signifies consent, accordance, concurrence, affirmation, acknowledgement, approval, positiveness, and, pleasure.

no means no.

there are many synonyms of yes, ⁖ aye, yeah, yep, yup, agree, true, uh-huh, yesh (diminutive uttered by furries), but there are a million euphemisms for no.

Negative, nuu, huh, what, oh look Dinasour!

a dysphemism for no is f��k U.


Easy Ways to Remember Latitude & Longitude and Their Order

English Accent: Australian Accent 📺 (added a new video)

etymology of Laissez-faire: Let us be

According to historical legend, the phrase “Laissez-faire” stems from a meeting in about 1680 between the powerful French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert and a group of French businessmen led by a certain M. Le Gendre. When the eager mercantilist minister asked how the French state could be of service to the merchants and help promote their commerce, Le Gendre replied simply “Laissez-nous faire” (“Let us be”, literally “Let us do”).


Past Articles by Date