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

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

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

Tristram Shandy

Talking in Euphemisms Can Chip Away at Your Sense of Morality By Laura Niemi, Alek Chakroff, And Liane Young. At http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/04/indirect-speech-talking-in-euphemisms.html

Etymology of Sinister and Dexterity

word of the day: acquiescing. see Word of the Day

word of the day: • beguiling • patchwork • floundering

see Word of the Day

word of the day: • galvanized • pugnacious • relishes • muckraker • facile

see Word of the Day

简体繁體字表; List of Simplified/Traditional Chinese Characters

Hegel and the Girls

hegel and girls 07040
〔image source twitter

Zelda, Breath of the Wild, Inscriptions

Orthography, narrowly, means correct spelling according to established usage. Broadly, It includes capitalization, word breaks, emphasis, punctuation.

English Writing Style: Oxford Comma and Strippers (repost)

Alaeddin; Or, The Wonderful Lamp (new navigation bar)

“The Tragedy Of Titus Andronicus” (new navigation bar)

Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass (new navigation bar)

The Time Machine by H G Wells (also updated with nav bar. Added more pictures.)

FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Classic scifi. Make you understand 4 dimensions by analogy. Now new navbar.

神奇的二维国 中文版.(Flatland Chinese version). 神奇的二维国 (Flatland)

Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World. New navigation bar.

西游记 (Journey To The West) (page redesigned)

How to Tell the Difference Between Chinese, Japanese, Korean? (updated)

China Dollar Bill Multi-Lingual

the Story of Cupid and Psyche, by Lucius Apuleius (~123 to 180). Classic story.

“Paglia presents herself as a willing academic pariah

SAT Words

Etymology of Drum, Disk, Cylinder

books on writing you liked?

what are some of books on writing? any related to writing, style, grammar, words, linguistics, etc. Suggest away. must be you've read.

comment at:



English: Etymology of “label” and “legend”

poignantly train your dragon
poignantly train your dragon

see SAT Words

etymology of manual: manus = hand. Handbook.


Arabian Nights, The Tale Of The Ensorceled Prince

holy cow, this chick explained movie “Arrival” so good. in Chinese, u no unstand.

喵嗷污 讲解 《降临》.

this poor sob wanna watch Arrival, but don't have money, nor feel like pirate, and fear it's all tracked now.

so, the movie Arrival, is is based on a award-winning scifi fiction “Story of Your Life”, written by the award winning Chinese American Ted Chiang.

“Story of Your Life” is a science fiction short story by Ted Chiang. It was the winner of the 2000 Nebula Award for Best Novella as well as the 1999 Sturgeon award.[1] The major themes explored by this tale are determinism, language, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. The story was adapted into the 2016 film Arrival.[2]

and the major theme is about determinism, language, and the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. Wow, fascinating, right there.

Arrival, is about 12 giant kidneys descending upon earth.

it entails determinism, language, and Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, with Chinese characteristics

when i grow up, am gonna be a heptapod.

now, here's the spoilers. Here's the outline of the novelette:

The story is narrated by Dr. Louise Banks, writing in the past tense. After a race of aliens, known as heptapods (due to their 7-pointed radially symmetrical appearance), initiate first contact with humanity, the military hires Dr. Banks to discover their language and communicate with them. The story revolves around Dr. Banks and Gary Donnelly, a physicist also working for the military to gain knowledge of physics from the aliens.

The heptapods have two distinct forms of language. Heptapod A is their spoken language, which is described as having free word order and many levels of center-embedded clauses. Understanding Heptapod B, the written language of the aliens, is central to the plot. Unlike its spoken counterpart, Heptapod B has such complex structure that a single semantic symbol cannot be excluded without changing the entire meaning of a sentence.

When writing in Heptapod B, the writer knows how the sentence will end. The phenomenon of Heptapod B is explained by the aliens' understanding of mathematics and Fermat's principle of least time. Dr. Banks' understanding of the heptapods' writing system affects the way she perceives time and suggests a deterministic universe where free will is exercised by not affecting the outcome of events.

A frame for the story, written in the present tense, indicates that the story is being written at the time of the daughter's conception. The sections describing the daughter's life—from birth to death and beyond—are written as Dr. Banks' remembrances that she nonetheless describes using the future tense, because learning Heptapod B enables Dr. Banks to know her daughter's entire life even before she agrees to conceive her. As the story proceeds, we see Dr Banks and Dr Donnelly growing closer, until it is revealed that Dr Donnelly will be the father of her child.

[from Story of Your Life]

Arrival Buy at amazon

Center embedding

Chinese Text 瘟疫論 (On Plague Dieases), 1642. beginning of bacteria/virus study. https://zh.wikisource.org/zh/瘟疫論_(四庫全書本)

amazing that Chinese text thousand years back we can still understand some 60% sans training. this has significant impact on culture.

Etymology of Parenthesis and Bracket

Has the Internet Killed Curly Quotes? By Glenn Fleishman. At https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/12/quotation-mark-wars/511766/

on betterment of technical writing with a creative streak

today's wandering in humanity.

on betterment of technical writing with a creative streak.

unless you don't know kindergarten grammar, when anyone tell you about grammar, spit.

if you want to improve your technical writing exposition skill in written English, study logic and linguistics.

there's 2 parts to writing. 1, the content, 2 the presentation. The content part is much more important. You've got something to say, and solid about the subject matter. This is intrinsic, and you really have to have this before writing. But the topic of writing, is about the skill of presentation per se. Most writing guide is shallow on this, focus on tradition and convention, on grammar, on punctuation, on diction, on sentence length, etc. But the most important part, for technical writing, is the ability to understand the logic and linguistics aspects of what you put down. That means clarity and precision. For example, the oft used advice of “active voice”, rather do nothing to help precision and clarity of your exposition.

here's some random creative essays.

Haven't watched TV since 2000. Don't have one. Ditch it. Good for your understanding of the world.

tongue is amazing. it can find a tiny piece of bone and manipulate it out of your mouth. that's massive parallel computation.

chess, prodigy, art of learning

this guy Josh Waitzkin, chess national champion, then became international taichi champion. wrote a book The Art of Learning 2008 Buy The Art of Learning

It's interesting guy, but i don't necessary endorse the book. Lots of this sort of books are garbage, pretty much by definition.

So, books of this ilk, and ted talks and hacker news stuff, are the things idiotic programers chant abut all day, day and night.

There are only 2 good type of books. Fiction, and college text books.

Acclaimed movie Searching for Bobby Fischer. 1993. About young chess prodigy Joshua Waitzkin Buy Searching for Bobby Fischer Now it's 23 years.

Bobby Fisher didn't get a dime, nor asked for permission of his fame. Bobby died a bitter man in 2008.

Joshua Waitzkin didn't become word's best players of chess. But he went on to also become international champion of tai chi push hands competition.

most prodigies, did not become the greats in history.

here's list of greatest chess players and their rating. List of chess players by peak FIDE rating

note that, the best, is Magnus Carlsen, with rating of 2882.

but computer chess, has rating over 3200. Chess engine#Chess engine rating lists

today, any computer will beat any human, anytime, practically speaking.

note that chess player speaks of playing style. Actually, playing style is a phenomenon of sub-optimal move. Mathematically speaking, most of the time there is just 1 correct move.

english vs chinese, urge to improve

some languages, such as english, u have a urge to make it better, logical, reform. while Chinese, u never thought of replacing art with precision.

lost in euphemism

The United States Congress authorized the construction of Endeavour in 1987 to replace Challenger, which was lost in 1986.

“was lost in 1986” that's a euphemism, for blowing up, in this case.

the writings of amazon reviews

reading amazon reviews's fun, you see the wildest of writing styles, and you wonder, if everyone is so creative. Actually most are simply bad writing.

amazon reviews, are the writing of the grass roots. You witness the pen of teens, toilet toilers, house wives, and college youngsters.

Morlock and Weena Yvette Mimieux
Yvette Mimieux as Weena in Time Machine 1960 film. Time Machine, 1960 film

The Time Machine by H G Wells

The Time Machine, and the Dark Nature of Human Animals

“The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us”

Time Machine: Chapter I

This is a story, where human animals are bred and eaten, by other human animals.

Morlock by Tatsuya Morino-s
Time Machine's Morlock taking an Eloi child, from the book “Kaibutsu Gensō Gashū” illustrated by Tatsuya Morino.

most illustrations of H G Well's Time Machine show a machanical contraption. This illustration, shows the story.

but uncomfortable pic like this is not marketable. But pic of time contraption, tickles peope.

Time Machine, tells a dark human nature. Similar story is Lord of the Flies. Lord of the Flies

and, then, what's real nature of human animals? we have Biological Anthropologist tell us. Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence

why capitalize author names?

quite annoying that some publications (online) capitalize author names, all parts. like, By XAH LEE. What's the frigging point? ( nytimes.com and wsj.com )

time to dig those style guides. Answer must be there somewhere. But no, no time for those idiotic guides of guilds.

〔►see The Writing Style of Xah Lee

Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World (added navigation panel)

the Barbarism of Specialization (philosophy) (by Jose Ortega Y Gasset) (updated.)

Xah Wordy English (home page redesign)

Vocabulary Panel Index

new navigation panel.

Words Panel Index

new navigation panel.

Dictionary Review Panel Index

new navigation panel.

Etymology Panel Index

new navigation panel on the side.

Etymology of Flamingo and Flamboyant

Hendiatris as Rule of Three? and the Crumbling of Linguistica Logica

To Build a Fire, By Jack London, 1908

Tyke, Imp, Waif, and Les Misérables

English Accent: Irish Accent 📺

Madam, I am most apt to embrace your offer.


The Tempest

Diane Kruger's French Accent Gets Her Out of Trouble Everytime

Sorcerer, daughter, illusion, The Tempest…

The Tempest Sorcerer, daughter, illusion, tempest… Does charm my way. 😈

This song by Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson — Blue Lagoon

features part of The Tempest called “Ariel's Song” - the place where we got the phrase “sea change”:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.

thanks to John Baez. https://plus.google.com/+XahLee/posts/TQXfP4N9HoQ

Shakespeare's Titus, now with navigation panel.

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  • 1. What am I trying to say?
  • 2. What words will express it?
  • 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  • 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”

— George Orwell

see also Politics and the English Language (George Orwell)

etymology of “redoutable”

late 14c., from Old French redoutable (12c.), from redouter "to dread," from re-, intensive prefix, + douter "be afraid of" (see doubt (v.)).


English Vocabulary for SAT, GRE

Julie Taymor's Titus

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

Infinite Jest 49261
Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace

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.

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. At http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/opinion/sunday/sorry-you-cant-speed-read.html

and, a decade ago: On Speed Reading