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.

  • quash
  • incipient
  • vacillant
  • avulse
  • fugacious
  • fractious
  • hightail
  • abscond
  • avarice
  • alacrity
  • inveigled
  • salubrious

English Vocabulary Compilation with Usage Examples English Vocabulary Compilation with Usage Examples


British accent, “i'm not fat and gutty”

Pizza Problems - taking dumb to a whole new level!

“i'm not fat and gutty”

gutty = 1. an urchin or delinquent 2. a low-class person.

but a friend told me it just means not having a potbelly in the context of the video.

The Arabian Nights (now with side navigation panel)

Alaeddin; Or, The Wonderful Lamp (now with side navigation panel)

Infinite Jest, Auto-Killed

there's a novel named Infinite Jest, 1996, by David Foster Wallace.

In 2005 it was included by Time magazine in its list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.

The author, David Foster Wallace (1962 – 2008), killed himself, at age 46. Reason was depression.

Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

linguistics, Chinese language, and scifi

who is Ted Chiang?

so, The New Yorker recently ran a article titled Bad Character, by Ted Chiang.

it is a lame repetition on how chinese should be alphabetized.

i was thinking, has The New Yorker gone so low to publish a article of blatant ignorance? Or, as a novelty to its US American readers?

then i thought, perhaps the author, just want to bring up an old topic for thought.

looking up, seems Ted Chiang is a well-known scifi writer. Who's he?

I read 〈War and Peace〉 in 20 minutes.

Sorry, You Can't Speed Read By Jeffrey M Zacks And Rebecca Treiman. @ http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/opinion/sunday/sorry-you-cant-speed-read.html

and, a decade ago: On Speed Reading

Rhetorical modes (Just Say: Writing Styles)

journalism writing style. News style

interesting read.

and also

Rhetorical modes (also known as modes of discourse) describe the variety, conventions, and purposes of the major kinds of language-based communication, particularly writing and speaking. Four of the most common rhetorical modes and their purpose are narration, description, exposition, and argumentation.[1]


The purpose of narration is to tell a story or narrate an event or series of events. This writing mode frequently uses the tools of descriptive writing. Narration is an especially useful tool for sequencing or putting details and information into some kind of logical order, usually chronological. Working with narration helps us see clear sequences separate from all other mental functions. Examples include:

  • Anecdotes
  • Autobiography
  • Biography
  • Novels
  • Oral history
  • Short story


The purpose of description is to re-create, invent, or visually present a person, place, event, or action so that the reader can picture that which is being described. Descriptive writing can be found in the other rhetorical modes. Examples include:

  • Journal writing
  • Poetry


Expository writing is a type of writing where the purpose is to explain, inform, or even describe.[2] It is considered to be one of the four most common rhetorical modes.[3]

The purpose of expository writing is to explain and analyze information by presenting an idea, relevant evidence, and appropriate discussion. In narrative contexts (such as history and fiction), exposition provides background information to teach or entertain. In other nonfiction contexts (such as technical communication), the purpose is to teach and inform. Examples include:[1]

  • Business
  • Business letters
  • Reports
  • Press releases
  • Journalism
  • How-to essays, such as recipes and other instructions
  • News article
  • Personal
  • Personal letters
  • Wills
  • Academic and technical communication
  • Scientific writing
  • Scientific reports
  • Scientific journal articles
  • Academic writing
  • Term papers
  • Textbooks
  • General reference works
  • Encyclopedia articles
  • Technical writing
  • User guides
  • Technical standards


The purpose of argumentation (also called persuasive writing) is to prove the validity of an idea, or point of view, by presenting sound reasoning, discussion, and argument to thoroughly convince the reader. Persuasive writing/Persuasion is a type of argumentation with the additional aim to urge the reader to take some form of action. Examples include:

  • Advertising copy
  • Critical review
  • Editorials
  • Job evaluation
  • Job application letter
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Letters to the editor
  • Résumés

Another form of persuasive rhetoric is satirical rhetoric, or using humor in order to make a point about some aspect of life or society. Perhaps the most famous example is Jonathan Swift's “A Modest Proposal”.

from Rhetorical modes

Chinese, Japanese, to Vertical or Not to Vertical

before modern times, Chinese is typically vertical, and right to left. People's Republic of China (the mainland China) changed that in early 1990s, to be horizontal, and left to right, as English. Part of the major reason is that western text can be embedded (such as math formula, chemistry tech names, etc.).

Taiwan's Chinese books, still mostly vertical, and right to left. Such as in novels.

the greeks has ox turning style, boustrophedon. That is, horizontal, but when reaching end of line, the next line down goes in reverse direction, and repeat. Word spelling are reversed. Each character is also reversed. Winding and winding.

see also Intro to Chinese Punctuation

breakfast = Literally means “breaking the fast” — of the night, as it is the first meal after sleeping. Fast means no food, as in, fasting.


unicase & bicameral

A unicase or unicameral alphabet is one that has no case for its letters. Persian, Kannada, Tamil, Arabic, Old Hungarian, Hebrew, Georgian and Hangul are unicase alphabets, while (modern) Latin, Greek, Cyrillic and Armenian are bicameral, as they have two cases for each letter, e.g., B/b, Β/β, Б/б, Բ/բ. Individual characters can also be called unicameral if they are used as letters with a generally bicameral alphabet but have only one form for both cases; for example, ʻokina (ʻ), used in Polynesian languages, and glottal stop (ʔ) as used in Nootka.

It is believed that all alphabets with case were once unicase[citation needed]. Latin, for example, used to be written with a unicase alphabet in imperial Roman times; it was only later that scribes developed new sets of symbols for running text, which became the lower case of the Latin alphabet, while the letterforms of Ancient Rome came to be called capitals or upper case.

The Georgian alphabet, on the other hand, has developed in the other direction: in the medieval period, Georgian also had two sets of letters available for bicameral writing, but the use of two cases later gave way to a unicameral system. The ecclesiastical form of the Georgian alphabet, Khutsuri, had an upper case called Asomtavruli (like the Ancient Roman capitals) and a lower case called Nuskhuri (like the medieval Latin scribal forms). Out of Nuskhuri came a secular alphabet called Mkhedruli, which is the unicase Georgian alphabet in use today.

A unicase version of the Latin alphabet was proposed by Michael Mann and David Dalby in 1982 as a variation of the Niamey African Reference Alphabet. This version has apparently never been actively used. Another example of unicase Latin alphabet is the Initial Teaching Alphabet. Occasionally some fonts use unicase designs to create an unusual effect; this was particularly popular in the 1960s.

The International Phonetic Alphabet only uses lowercase Latin (and Greek) letters and some scaled upper-case letters (small caps), effectively making it a unicase alphabet, although it is not used for actual writing of any language.

from Wikipedia Unicase

see also

Amharic language

የኢትዮጵያ ፡ መደበኛ ፡ ቋንቋ ፡ ነው። ከሴማዊ ፡ ቋንቋዎች ፡ እንደ ፡ ዕብራይስጥ ፡ ወይም ፡ ዓረብኛ ፡ አንዱ ፡ ነው። በአፍሪካ ፡ ውስጥ ፡ ደግሞ ፡ ከምዕራብ ፡ አፍሪካው ፡ ሐውሳና ፡ ከምሥራቅ ፡ አፍሪካው ፡ ስዋሂሊ ፡ ቀጥሎ ፡ 3ኛውን ፡ ቦታ ፡ የያዘ ፡ ነው። እንዲያውም ፡ 85.6 ፡ ሚሊዮን ፡ ያህል ፡ ተናጋሪዎች ፡ እያሉት ፣ አማርኛ ፡ ከአረብኛ ፡ ቀጥሎ ፡ ትልቁ ፡ ሴማዊ ፡ ቋንቋ ፡ ነው። የሚጻፈውም ፡ በአማርኛ ፡ ፊደል ፡ ነው። አማርኛ ፡ ከዓረብኛና ፡ ከዕብራይስጥ ፡ ያለው ፡ መሰረታዊ ፡ ልዩነት ፡ እንደ ፡ ላቲን ፡ ከግራ ፡ ወደ ፡ ቀኝ ፡ መጻፉ ፡ ነው።

this is Amharic language

interesting is that it has these punctuation characters:

  • section mark
  • word separator
  • full stop (period)
  • comma
  • semicolon
  • colon
  • Preface colon (introduces speech from a descriptive prefix)
  • question mark
  • paragraph separator

a period (aka full stop) is

so, what other languages use its own set of punctuation that's different than English?

goto Unicode Search ☯ ☭ ⚡ → ∑ ♀ ♂ ♥ 😄, and type “full stop”. Also try search for any of {comma, question, colon, semicolon}.

most Western language, uses the same punctuation marks as English, even Chinese. 〔➤see Intro to Chinese Punctuation

21 Accents. Fathia Izzati

see also English Accents

Writer's Words now, in one page too.

assess the caliber of your prolixity prowess, and aptitude for verbiage. GRE Words. Now, all in one page.

SAT Words. Now, all in one page.

Etymology of AV Idol (AV女優)

Chinese root of formal logic. Chinese, The Logicians or School of Names (名家)

Analytic Languages vs Synthetic Languages

Piraha Language and Crackpot, Academician as Charlatan

“silly season”

“The event received coverage in the Western press during the 2007 silly season.”

from Wikipedia Honey badger,

In the United Kingdom and in some other places, the silly season is the period lasting for a few summer months typified by the emergence of frivolous news stories in the media. It is known in many languages as the cucumber time. The term was coined in an 1861 Saturday Review article,[1] and was listed in the second edition of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1894) and remains in use at the start of the 21st century. The fifteenth edition of Brewer's expands on the second, defining the silly season as “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting (about August and September)”.

In North America the period is referred to prosaically as the slow news season, or with the phrase dog days of summer. In Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the silly season has come to refer to the Christmas/New Year festive period (which occurs during the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere) on account of the higher than usual number of social engagements where the consumption of alcohol is typical.

from Wikipedia Silly season,

Pride and Prejudice, Novel of Manners

Pride and Prejudice is a novel of manners by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency.

Pride and Prejudice

The novel of manners is a realistic story that concentrates the reader's attention upon the customs and conversation, and the ways of thinking and valuing of the people of a social class.[1] As such, the narrative structure of the novel of manners recreates a social world (civil, military, political, business) and shows the spheres of public and private life sufficiently to convey the dominance of social-code mores upon the personal and public lives of the people in the story. The detailed observation of the values and customs of a social-class society, thematically dominate the story. The characters are differentiated by measures of “success” and “failure”; by the degree to which he or she meets the standard of uniform social behaviour; and by the degree to which each character fails at uniformity in language, thought, and action.[2]

Novel of manners

Etymology of Flamingo & Flamboyant

etymology of calculus

etymology of calculus

1660s, from Latin calculus “reckoning, account,” originally “pebble used as a reckoning counter,” diminutive of calx (genitive calcis) “limestone” (see chalk (n.)). Modern mathematical sense is a shortening of differential calculus.

Also used from 1732 to mean kidney stones, etc., then generally for “concretion occurring accidentally in the animal body,” such as dental plaque. Related: Calculous (adj.).


mesmeric, jingle, jangle

Dusty Springfield ♪〈the Windmills of Your Mind〉 🎶

vocabulary: ebullience

Mathematicians are not famed for ebullience and many prefer research – deep, solitary labour – to the challenge of communicating complex abstractions to young adults.

Berkeley to fire 'love letter to learning' professor By Rory Carroll. @ http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/17/berkeley-math-professor-alexander-coward-campus-battle

hilarious. Little Red Riding Hood (Politically Correct version)

here's original, 1697. “Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!” Little Red Riding Hood (original), 1697, By Charles Perrault

Movie: The Man From Earth

Your Wrong Magazine

grammer english nazi humor

Literature: A Modest Proposal (by Jonathan Swift) (repost)

Online English Dictionary Tools (repost)

my frend, u dont no English

Draw a breth for progress,
Tred abrest ahed.
Fight agenst old spelling,
Better “red” than “read”.
Spred the words at brekfast,
Mesure them in bed,
Dream of welth and tresure,
Better “ded” than “dead”.


English-language spelling reform

语言学 好酷! Etymology of Cool! 中英文的交流

etymology of pettifogger

programer = pettifogger, mousing to'n'fro, daily.

1560s, from petty; the second element possibly from obsolete Dutch focker, from Flemish focken “to cheat,” or from cognate Middle English fugger, from Fugger the renowned family of merchants and financiers of 15c.-16c. Augsburg. In German, Flemish and Dutch, the name became a word for “monopolist, rich man, usurer.”

A ‘petty Fugger’ would mean one who on a small scale practices the dishonourable devices for gain popularly attributed to great financiers; it seems possible that the phrase ‘petty fogger of the law,’ applied in this sense to some notorious person, may have caught the popular fancy. [OED first edition, in a rare burst of pure speculation]

However, OED also calls attention to pettifactor “legal agent who undertakes small cases” (1580s), which, though attested slightly later, might be the source of this. Related: Pettifoggery.


hit statue rock bottom
“i knew the moment, when i slapped this statue on the ass, that i had hit rock bottom”

〈the Borderline〉 from 〈Macross Plus〉, Meaning of Sultry 🎶

The word sultry, describes this song.

etymology of lemon

etymology of lemon

“worthless thing,” 1909, American English slang; from lemon (n.1), perhaps via criminal slang sense of “a person who is a loser, a simpleton,” which is perhaps from the notion of someone a sharper can “suck the juice out of.” A pool hall hustle was called a lemon game (1908); while to hand someone a lemon was British slang (1906) for “to pass off a sub-standard article as a good one.” Or it simply may be a metaphor for something which leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.


Chinese is the Most Ambiguous Spoken Language

In recent years, due to contact with online communities in China, i find that, spoken Chinese, is filled with ambiguities. That is, if we rank ambiguity of languages, as in, how many times people have to ask “what did you say” or “what do you mean”, then, Chinese would rank number 1, among all existing spoken languages that are still in use.

Here's a joke, that came from ambiguity.



A pasigraphy (from Greek pasi ‘to all’ and graph ‘write’) is a writing system where each written symbol represents a concept (rather than a word or sound or series of sounds in a spoken language). The aim (as with ordinary numerals 1, 2, 3, etc.) is to be intelligible to persons of all languages.

The term was first applied to a system proposed in 1796, though a number of pasigraphies had been devised prior to that; Leopold Einstein reviews 60 attempts at creating an international auxiliary language, the majority of the 17th-18th century projects being pasigraphies of one kind or another,[1] while Arika Okrent includes a list of 500 in her book on the subject, with samples of many.[2] Leibniz wrote about the Alphabet of human thought and Alexander von Humboldt corresponded with Peter Stephen Du Ponceau (1760-1844) who proposed a universal phonetic alphabet.

Examples of pasigraphies include Blissymbols and Real Character.


An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language

English: Etymology of Execute

serif vs sans-serif font legibility debate. Conclusion: there's no conclusive scientific evidence showing one is better.

Elton John ♪〈Nikita〉 🎶

vocabulary: merry, maurading, tutelage

While Cooper and his merry gang of astronauts are maurading around the furthest reaches of the galaxy, Cooper's daughter Renesmee grows up into brilliant astrophysicist Jessica Chastain. Chastain spends her entire life under the tutelage of Michael Caine, attempting to solve an apparently unsolvable equation.

Let's talk about the plot of “Interstellar” By Darren Franich. @ http://www.ew.com/article/2014/11/07/interstellar-plot-explained

“They say! What say they? Let them say.” (Scotch).

“This was the motto of the Keiths, Earl Marischal, one of whom founded Marischal College, in the University of Aberdeen.”—Andrew Cheviot.

The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 Genji monogatari)

i'm thinking, not to Capitalize Titles or First word of a sentence anymore. As in, banish it in my writings all together. Language & English Language & English

On the Ignorance of the Learned

The description of persons who have the fewest ideas of all others are mere authors and readers. —William Hazlitt

Table Talk : Essays on Men and Manners. Essay viii. On the Ignorance of the Learned By William Hazlitt. @ https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hazlitt/william/table-talk/v1.8.html

What is a Tech Geeker? see comment by Peter Johnson What is a Tech Geeker?#comment-2044408048

William Hazlitt (10 April 1778 – 18 September 1830) was an English writer, remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, as the greatest art critic of his age,[1] and as a drama critic, social commentator, and philosopher. He was also a painter.

He is now considered one of the great critics and essayists of the English language,[2][3] placed in the company of Samuel Johnson and George Orwell.[4][5] Yet his work is currently little read and mostly out of print.[6][7] During his lifetime he befriended many people who are now part of the 19th-century literary canon, including Charles and Mary Lamb, Stendhal, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and John Keats.[8]

William Hazlitt

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

English Phonetics: IPA vs American Heritage Dictionary vs Merriam-Webster (repost)

Faust, Selling Your Soul to the Devil

Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend. He is a scholar who is highly successful yet dissatisfied with his life, which leads him to make a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures. The Faust legend has been the basis for many literary, artistic, cinematic, and musical works that have reinterpreted it through the ages. Faust and the adjective Faustian imply a situation in which an ambitious person surrenders moral integrity in order to achieve power and success for a delimited term.[1]


English Writing Style: Oxford Comma and Strippers (repost)

3rd world blind 01
Third World Blind

How to Increase Your English Vocabulary? (repost)

Online English Dictionary Tools (updated)

Past Articles by Date