Disorder of a Man of Letters — Xah Belles-lettres

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

better nav panel for the following

#xahwords today are: Marvelous and Luscious. Mario Sisters Cosplay

today's #xahwords is: lugubrious. Latin lugubris “mournful, doleful, pertaining to mourning,” from lugere “to mourn,” from PIE root *leug- “to break; to cause pain” (Greek lygros “mournful, sad,” Sanskrit rujati “breaks, torments,” Lettish lauzit “to break the heart”). Yeah.

usage example: lugubriousness has done me.

now, in the name of English, i will inaugurate the commencement of sleeping.

why do river meander

river meander 2018-08-12 66264
river meander 2018-08-12 66264

apparently, they don't have a Chinese proofreader 三月月湖 upside down, and i'm not sure that's the correct Chinese term.

the correct Chinese term is 河迹湖. Wikipedia at Oxbow lake the YouTube video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a3r-cG8Wic

he is a purveyor of beauty and discretion, both equally important

game of thrones words: promontory, hoodwink

Casterly Rock is the ancestral stronghold of House Lannister. It is located on the Western coast of Westeros on a rocky promontory overlooking the Sunset Sea.

According to legend, Casterly Rock was found and held by House Casterly after its founder slew a pair of fearsome lions that lived in the gold-filled subterranean cave where the castle would be built upon. They were hoodwinked into giving the Rock to Lann the Clever, a legendary trickster and ancestor of House Lannister, thousands of years ago, during the Age of Heroes.

2018-08-03 from http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Casterly_Rock

chinese simplified chars 2017-04-04
简体繁體字表; List of Simplified/Traditional Chinese Characters

word of the day: glance

Jaime briefly rallies a group of archers to target Daenerys as she dives again (riding the dragon Drogon), hoping to kill her and leave her forces leaderless, but Drogon pulls up sharply and the arrows glance harmlessly off his scales.

2018-07-29 from http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Daenerys_Targaryen

#xahword of the day: fractious, conscription, mustered, buffed, belligerent, caricatures, pompous, bombastic.

Movie “300” and Battle of Thermopylae

at the speed of light, my dick becomes a disk, i rushed back in time, bid for my fly back.

thagomizer 6223e

in terms of English, it called salient points.


today's lexicon is fear and trepidation.

D.B. Cooper jumped out of a plane with $200,000 cash in 1971 – and he's never been found

“This has been a cover up, they're stonewalling,” Colbert told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He believes that the FBI protected Rackstraw because he was involved in numerous classified units during the war and may have worked for the CIA. “This is an old fashioned scandal,” he said. (A rep for FBI's Seattle field office told Rolling Stone that they have received “an immense number” of tips over the years, but “none to date have resulted in a definitive identification of the hijacker.” They did not respond to a request for comment on whether the FBI stonewalled an investigation into Rackstraw.)

[D.B. Cooper: Investigators Claim They've Discovered Skyjacker's Identity By Amelia Mcdonell-Parry. At https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/d-b-cooper-investigators-claim-theyve-discovered-skyjackers-identity-693912/ ]

See also Wikipedia D. B. Cooper

See also:

#xahwords: stonewalling. “In March of this year, they charged in a letter published in Microwave News that these attempts were met with stonewalling and foot-dragging.” 1999, wired. Vocabulary: Combination Words

Gulliver's Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World

By the way, basically all movies or comics of Gulliver is completely misleading of the book's nature. Its nature, is offensiveness, misanthropy.

Dogs Bark, Cats Meow, Horses Neigh, and Hyena?

English Vocabulary: Animalistic Cries (Onomatopoeia)

“Some I recognized as a kind of hypertrophied raspberry and orange, but for the most part they were strange”

Time Machine: Chapter IV

How to Increase Your Vocabulary

Quora's Future

The first man I saw was of a meagre aspect, with sooty hands and face, his hair and beard long, ragged, and singed in several places. His clothes, shirt, and skin, were all of the same colour. He has been eight years upon a project for extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, which were to be put in phials hermetically sealed, and let out to warm the air in raw inclement summers.


In the interest of full disclosure, I must relate that I own a bunch of HP and Agilent doodads. Mostly, I like all of them, too.

Words, page 4

Ulysses, etc.

By nature, he was a scattershot writer, scribbling on scraps of paper, composing in notebooks and revising excerpts after they appeared in magazines — and in 1922, when “Ulysses” first appeared, all that chaos was botched into print by French typesetters, most of whom spoke no English. That flawed version was banned in America, so a notorious pornographer, Sam Roth, rushed into print a pirated and even more corrupt edition. What had riled the censors (and attracted the vanguard readers) were a few scenes in “Ulysses” where women indulge sexual fantasies.

Not a few paragraphs later, Kidd called out a slew of new mistakes and then guffawed, “Is no one awake at the wheel?” The piece carried on like this, as the tone gathered more of this vernacular force. After another volley of attacks about a misspelling here, a single dropped letter there, it read: “The Corrected Text is marbled with the fat of such pseudo-restorations from shoulder to shank.”

Responding in a subsequent issue, Gabler maintained a stiff, dismissive stance. “The scanty array of examples,” he wrote, “provides not even the flimsiest of foundations for a critique, let alone a condemnation.” Kidd was permitted to reply in the same issue, and his rebuttal preened with unforgiving attitude. After challenging Gabler on substance, he slipped into mischievous singsong: “Irony abounds. What redounds to Dr. Kidd rebounds. On several grounds, it sounds, he's out of bounds.”

[The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar (John Kidd) By Jack Hitt. At https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/magazine/the-strange-case-of-the-missing-joyce-scholar.html ]

Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass (added nav panel on the side)

Vocabulary: Combination Words

Hyphenated Words

English Accents. updated index.

Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese

here's chinese text, first 2 paragraphs on Chinese Wikipedia's article on keyboard.

highlighted words are characters that are in Japanese (i.e. kanji).

so, this gives a picture what Japanese can understand whan seeing Chinese.

鍵盤是指经过系统安排操作一台机器或设备的一组主要功能輸入資料。电脑鍵盤是电脑的外设之一,由打字机鍵盤发展而来。通过鍵盤可以输入字符,也可以控制电脑的运行。依照鍵盤上的按鍵數,可分為101和104兩種,而104個按鍵盤又稱為Windows 95鍵盤


on the other hand, when Chinese read Japanese, all the kanji Chinese can understand. It's easy to tell, because kanji are those complicated characters.

the purpose of this, is to answer the curiosity, that whether chinese can understand more Japanese, or the other way around.

similar question is, whether Spanish can read Portuguese better or the other way.

Intro to Chinese Punctuation

The dictionary bundled with macOS sucks donkey ass. American Heritage Dictionary vs New Oxford American Dictionary

A Modest Proposal (by Jonathan Swift)

World Literature Classics (major update)

behold a pale horse

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.


behold a pale horse (1964), movie. Buy at amazon

Based on the real-life exploits of Francisco Sabater, this is the story of a Spanish guerrilla living in exile in France and still leading raids on Spain, long after the Spanish Civil War has ended. An elaborate trap is set for him by a vicious police chief, using his mother and a priest as bait.


Spanish Civil War

history of alphabet

evolution of alphabet 88012
evolution of alphabet [from https://usefulcharts.com/blogs/charts/evolution-of-the-english-alphabet]
history of alphabet

Poem: The Bell Tolls for Thee; 鐘為汝鳴

The Arabian Nights

“Oppression hideth in every heart: power revealeth it and weakness concealeth it.”

from The Tale of the Wazir and the Sage Duban

of all literature i've read in my life, 2 most enjoyable are Shakespeare's stuff and Arabian Nights of Sir Richard Burton.

arabian nights 93255
The Arabian Nights
arabian nights 71404
Synopsis of Tales of Sir Richard Burton's Arabian Nights

Q: What to do if someone is bugging you?
A: Growl.

Q: What to do if you disapprove?
A: Hiss.

English Vocabulary: Animalistic Cries (Onomatopoeia)

To Build a Fire

the Story of Cupid and Psyche. classic. #ValentinesDay ♥

[The Shallowness of Google Translate By Douglas Hofstadter. At https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/01/the-shallowness-of-google-translate/551570/ ]

Light Bulb Color, Soft White vs Daylight

Cultural References Lost in Movie Subtitles




English translation:

you can say you want to quit learning yangqin,
but it's not up to you.


it guided you to this world
you've been together for 11 years
you are destined to be together
you may not want it
but you are all its got.

talk to your yangqin.
if it agrees, then that's it
i won't object

from 闪光少女 (Our Shining Days), Cosplay Culture, and Chinese vs Western Music

when doing translations, there's a tricky business. There's literal translation, and at the other extreme is translation by the intended meaning, subsuming context, which may have NOTHING to do with the words uttered. (called “pragmatics” in linguistics)

In most “good” translations, eg big movie's subtitle, the latter is done. By that, you can readily enjoy foreign films, but you are completely robbed from seeing how Chinese say things, and any cultural references are necessarily removed.

here's a more literal translation:

you don't want to learn yangqin anymore
but what you say doesn't count


because it guided you to the world
together for 11 years
it's your karma of reincarnation
now you don't want him anymore
but he has feelings for you

talk to him.
if he agrees, no need to tell mom
mom has no opinion on this

Note the word “karma” and “reincarnation” used. If you are a nerd hipster, you probably knew what it means. But to most English speakers, it's a blank.

It fact, the actual word used is 缘分 (“yuanfen” in English), and Chinese language colloquial usage actually don't have or use the word “karma”.

If you are a Chinese, you would hear and use word 缘分 yuanfen, several times a month, thru out your life. It's a Chinese folk concept tied to bddhism and taoism. It is applied to relationships.

缘分 yuanfen means:

Japan Net Jargon: “2D World”

in Japan, China, there's net jargon of “2D world”, meaning, the world of anime. i.e. idealized, fantasy, unrealistic. Many anime fans (what westerners'd call gamers), is said to live in 2d. As opposed to 3d world, real world. This is analogous to @SecondLife gamers of USA.

This award-winning movie from China, is a depiction of such youngsters in that world.

闪光少女 (Our Shining Days), Cosplay Culture, and Chinese vs Western Music

Lesson of the widow's mite

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

Lesson of the widow's mite

The Tempest


  1. governed by conscience; controlled by or done according to one's inner sense of what is right; principled: She's a conscientious judge, who does not let personal prejudices influence her decisions.
  2. careful and painstaking; particular; meticulous; scrupulous: conscientious application to the work at hand.

that's the dictionary definition.

Apparently, the word has a particular meaning in psychology, different from dictionary meaning. Its meaning focuses on fulfilling obligation, duty, disciplined, dependable.

Conscientiousness is the personality trait of being careful, or vigilant. Conscientiousness implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously. Conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized as opposed to easy-going and disorderly. They exhibit a tendency to show self-discipline, act dutifully, and aim for achievement; they display planned rather than spontaneous behavior; and they are generally dependable. It is manifested in characteristic behaviors such as being neat and systematic; also including such elements as carefulness, thoroughness, and deliberation (the tendency to think carefully before acting.)[1] Conscientiousness is one of the five traits of both the Five Factor Model and the HEXACO model of personality and is an aspect of what has traditionally been referred to as having character. Conscientious individuals are generally hard-working and reliable. They are also likely to be conformists.[2] When taken to an extreme, they may also be “workaholics”, perfectionists, and compulsive in their behavior.[3] People who score low on conscientiousness tend to be laid back, less goal-oriented, and less driven by success; they also are more likely to engage in antisocial and criminal behavior.[4]


Google Doodle is showing the pinyin inventor Zhou Youguang (周有光), died today. 111 years old.

During the Cultural Revolution, Zhou was sent to live in the countryside and to be “re-educated”, as were many other intellectuals at that time. He spent two years at a labour camp.

this book, is epic, but is $360. It's by Zhou Youguang. The Historical Evolution of Chinese Languages and Scripts

简体繁體字表; List of Simplified/Traditional Chinese Characters (minor update)

Decoding English: “I'm not at liberty to say” = i won't say. I can't say. I'm not allowed to say.

Xah's Log, 2018-01-10, I Met a Beautiful Girl.

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov, classic novel, on amazon kindle is now $10. More and more expensive. Kindle edition used to be $4 or such. Also note, this is public domain text, you can download from the web.

The Brothers Karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov (Russian: Бра́тья Карама́зовы, Brat'ya Karamazovy, pronounced [ˈbratʲjə kərɐˈmazəvɨ]), also translated as The Karamazov Brothers, is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger from January 1879 to November 1880. Dostoyevsky died less than four months after its publication.

The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th-century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, judgment, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. Dostoyevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting.[1] Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.

2017-12-15 Wikipedia The Brothers Karamazov

translational poetry, the world consumed by fire and ice

some say the world will be consumed by fire, some say ice. My understanding of desire, agrees with fire. But if consummate twice, i think i understand hatred well too and know ice's power is also bottomless.

translational poetry.

烈 火滅。但如果世界得滅
夠 會        它
也 為 ,有人說在冰 個
, 認 滅    裡 兩
底 的 裡 有人 。 回
得 人 火  說 就 ,
了 些 在會界世 我 我
是 那      對 想
也 意同我解了的慾欲 我
力          對

source https://twitter.com/xah_lee/status/937541505652105216

一笑万古春,一啼万古愁。(one smile spring comes, one cry the valley echos) sometimes, a poetic language like chinese, solves the human expression problem. While, a logical language like English, tries.

Etymology of Provincial and Insular

growth hacking, a new euphemism, meaning, aggressive, abusive, psychology exploiting, tactics for online marketing to grow a business.

word of the day: conviviality

I found Cohen a good listener, but a less interesting thinker, possessed of that relentless conviviality that routinely afflicts career generalists and Rhodes scholars.

from https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/

prosumer, what a hateful word.

consumptive: relating to or affected with tuberculosis.

Time Machine: Chapter III

etymology of slate

mid-14c., from Old French esclate, fem. of esclat “split piece, splinter” (Modern French éclat; see slat), so called because the rock splits easily into thin plates. As an adjective, 1510s. As a color, first recorded 1813. Sense of “a writing tablet” (made of slate), first recorded late 14c., led to that of “list of preliminary candidates prepared by party managers,” first recorded 1842, from notion of being easily altered or erased. Clean slate (1856) is an image from customer accounts chalked up in a tavern.

etymology of slate

etymology of slab

late 13c., “large, flat mass,” of unknown origin, possibly related to Old French escopel, escalpe “thin fragment of wood,” which according to Klein is possibly a Gaulish word (compare Breton scolp, Welsh ysgolp “splinter, chip”). But OED rejects this on formal grounds. Meaning “rectangular block of pre-cast concrete used in building” is from 1927. Slab-sided is “having flat sides like slabs,” hence “tall and lank” (1817, American English).

etymology of slab

shoe size measures f5c74
shoe size measures f5c74

be my first patreon

now i have a patreon account. be my first patreon. see first post at https://www.patreon.com/xahlee

Pinyin 拼音, Zhuyin 注音, IPA Comparison (updated)

Segmented Sleep and Sleep Hours/Schedule Experiment

i've experimented with sleep hours and schedule since 1991. And my current sleep hours remain ephemeral.

Sometimes i sleep twice a day, 4 hours each.

Usually, my sleep hours shifts by 1 hour per day. For example, if today i sleep at 1, next day i sleep at 2, and next day i sleep at 3.

been doing these since 1991. In the first decade or two, when i was young, the intention is to reduce total hours slept.

but as i'm older, now, it's basically chaotic life habit. I sleep, when i'm tired.

of course, you can't do this if you are not a free man.

here's 2 books i found.

[At Day's Close: Night in Times Past By A Roger Ekirch. At Buy at amazon ]

“Remarkable…Ekirch has emptied night's pockets, and laid the contents out before us.” ―Arthur Krystal, The New Yorker

Bringing light to the shadows of history through a “rich weave of citation and archival evidence” (Publishers Weekly), scholar A. Roger Ekirch illuminates the aspects of life most often overlooked by other historians―those that unfold at night. In this “triumph of social history” (Mail on Sunday), Ekirch's “enthralling anthropology” (Harper's) exposes the nightlife that spawned a distinct culture and a refuge from daily life.

Fear of crime, of fire, and of the supernatural; the importance of moonlight; the increased incidence of sickness and death at night; evening gatherings to spin wool and stories; masqued balls; inns, taverns, and brothels; the strategies of thieves, assassins, and conspirators; the protective uses of incantations, meditations, and prayers; the nature of our predecessors' sleep and dreams―Ekirch reveals all these and more in his “monumental study” (The Nation) of sociocultural history, “maintaining throughout an infectious sense of wonder” (Booklist).

[Evening's Empire (New Studies in European History) By Craig Koslofsky. At Buy at amazon ]

What does it mean to write a history of the night? Evening's Empire is a fascinating study of the myriad ways in which early modern people understood, experienced, and transformed the night. Using diaries, letters, and legal records together with representations of the night in early modern religion, literature and art, Craig Koslofsky opens up an entirely new perspective on early modern Europe. He shows how princes, courtiers, burghers and common people 'nocturnalized' political expression, the public sphere and the use of daily time. Fear of the night was now mingled with improved opportunities for labour and leisure: the modern night was beginning to assume its characteristic shape. Evening's Empire takes the evocative history of the night into early modern politics, culture and society, revealing its importance to key themes from witchcraft, piety, and gender to colonization, race, and the Enlightenment.

Third World Blind

word of the day: atavistic, predicated, cross-talk, banality

There may be an atavistic longing for quasi-divine kingship that surfaces in unsettled times. Especially after 9/11, with its diffuse sense of peril, we should beware of the seductive dream of the strong man or clan who will shield us from harm. Democracy is predicated on sometimes chaotic cross-talk, not on governance by fiat, the whims of a hereditary elite.

Political dynasties are mythic foster families whose princes rise and fall like flaming stars. Does it signify democracy’s nostalgia for royalty? The irony is that authentic royalty, re-glamorized by Diana in the 1980s, has waned back into banality in England and everywhere else.

[Our failed political dynasties, Pelosi's stylish appeal and George W. Bush as Queen Victoria. Plus: The hot air about global warming. By Camille Paglia. At http://www.salon.com/2007/04/11/global_warming_14/ , accessed on 2017-05-17 ]

Classic Paglia, u no unstand!

The Adventure of the German Student (added illustration)

The Arabian Nights (updated intro)

Arabian Nights Art Gallery

“whatso woman willeth, the same she fulfilleth, however man nilleth. ” from Story Of King Shahryar And His Brother

rereading arabian nights. truly a wonderful story. I spent a year annotating it in 2005. Story Of King Shahryar And His Brother

“The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade” By Edgar Allan Poe (added artwork)

Vocabulary In Too Much Too Soon

English: Etymology of Science

coöperation and preëxisting! the art of diaeresis.

Oscar Wilde's Tomb and Quips

Definition of Fascism, But is it Left-Wing or Right-Wing?

The Masque of the Red Death (added many illustrations)

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 , accessed on 2017-04-12 ]

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.

etymology of manual

Arabian Nights, The Tale Of The Ensorceled Prince

Arrival, Movie 2016

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