Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2011-08 to 2011-08
Today's Wordy English: massif @ http://wordy-english.blogspot.com/2011/08/massif.html
Now, for you literature and humanity fans, this lil' passage can take you a hour or days to digest. Look up each author entry in Wikipedia. See who they are, what they've done. And, if novel reading is your cup of tea, head over to that original Time mag article and head down to bookshop online and prepare for years worth of reading.
Today's Wordy English: duomo, belvedere @ http://wordy-english.blogspot.com/2011/08/duomo.html
Remember, sip the words like fine wine. Wallow in their history. They are not just words. They are encoding of humanity. Spend at least 1 min to read the link to wikipedia if these words are new to you.
It is these little inquisitiveness, that makes you wealthy and sound, in judgment of any current hot political issues. Without interest in remote parts of humanities, you are really know-nothinger.
Today's Wordy English: decorum, and horn your skills in writing, thinking. @ wordy-english.blogspot.com
Remember, you don't know the word unless: when you see a word, without any context, you can give its definition that roughly matches a dictionary's.
For non-native english speakers or english-as-second-language learners, you should remember the words you've learned in the past. Keep a list of words you learned in the past, go thru it everyday, cross out those that you can always give a definition.
For native English speakers, college students, writers: when you give a definition of a word, you want to horn your skill such that your definition is precise and accurate, as if it is from a (non-abridged) dictionary. Understanding a word fully is different from the ability to give its definition in writing. Ability to write definition is a non-trivial skill. For example, the word “decorum”. Most college educated english speaker know what it means. If you ask me, i might say it's “proper manners”, “etiquette”, which is correct. However, if you are writing a definition for a dictionary, it's not easy. “proper manners”, “etiquette”, isn't precise nor broad enough. Now look up a non-abdidged dictionary and see the difference.
If you are into literature and creative writing or poetry writing, then do practice defining words. You will improve your writing kill and thinking skill, learn the word's history, original context (etymology), and also pickup many linguistic issues and logical analysis.
dark clouds looming, surrounding me, in a desert. because i see the stars, shining and bright, they are killing me. --Xah Lee, 2011-08-25
Third Person Writing for Author Profile
On Google+ i do hate those who write their own profile in third person. Like:
Dr. Xah Lee is professor of philology at University of Bovine. He is a renowned programer and philosopher. He has helped tens of thousand people to better themselves. He has won several awards, and is a recipient of Noble Prize. He is also SEO of Grandiloquence International. He is nominated as the Savior of the Year 2020.
Rule: If you write it yourself, don't third person it.
If anyone doesn't know, vast majority of such, actually i think all of it, in book covers, journal article intro, etc, are written by the person himself. I haven't researched the history of this practice per se, but this convention established precisely for the purpose to make it sound neutral and true, and they do that to sell the journal/book. In short, it's a marketing gimmick!
“O toiler through the glooms of night in peril and in pain,
Thy toiling stint for daily bread comes not by might and main!
Seest thou not the fisher seek afloat upon the sea
His bread, while glimmer stars of night as set in tangled skein?
Anon he plungeth in despite the buffet of the waves,
The while to sight the bellying net his eager glances strain,
Till joying at the night's success, a fish he bringeth home
Whose gullet by the hook of Fate was caught and cut in twain.
When buys that fish of him a man who spent the hours of night
Reckless of cold and wet and gloom in ease and comfort fain,
Laud to the Lord who gives to this, to that denies, his wishes
And dooms one toil and catch the prey and other eat the fishes.”
From Arabian Nights: The Fisherman And The Jinni.
Ok, found a reasonably good English dictionary add-on for Firefox. For detail, see: Online English Dictionary Tools. (including tools for Google Chrome and emacs.)
Chinese 灵=靈; What's a Good Simplification?
The Multitudes of “no”
The human animals, have invented many equivalent terms for “no”. I suppose this is a phenomenon of language that is a result due to the psychology in human interaction. Namely, when someone asks you something, if your answer is negative, usually you want to avoid actually answer them directly, out of politeness or to facilitate rapport. There are a thousand ways to indirectly say no, but in many situations you need to be brief and can only utter one word, so we have came up with: nah, nay, nope, uh uh (what's the proper spelling here?), negative, nu (this i learned in second life).
The "Nuuu" from second life is particularly funny. It is this Nu that prompted me to think about this, when i first heard of it in SL. If you are not a Second Lifer, the "nuu" is often said in some furry community, by a gesture, usually from some cute female furry.
SL is quite rife in all sort of slang development…
…i think there should be a lot more synonyms to “no”… will have to look into some other time.
To further this theory about why there's many synonyms to “no”, i think here's some steps:
- ① first, actually collect all the “no” synonyms, so we can be sure there are many.
- ② actually collect synonyms of Yes too. If there are equal or even more synonyms of Yes than “no”, then this theory apparently fails.
While doing this, be sure to lookup etymology of each. Should be quite rich. It be also interesting to quickly check other major lang. That should quickly give a over all picture.
Abomination of Chinese Simplified Character 讲=講
Etymology of One-Night Stand
Just learned the etymology of One-night stand today. Quote:
Originally, a one-night stand was a single theatre performance, usually by a guest performer(s) on tour, as opposed to an ongoing engagement. Today, however, the term is more commonly defined as a single sexual encounter, in which neither participant has any intention or expectation of a relationship to come out of it.
This reminds me of Murray Head's One Night in Bangkok music video. Lots of allusions, history, and idioms there. You should learn about:
- crème de la crème
- Yul Brynner (actor)
- world's your oyster (idiom)
- Somerset Maugham (writer)
- “sunshine” (slang)
Chinese Character 喬
This is a rare character. Sometimes used in person's name.
Chinese: Jump 跃躍, Dragon 龙龍, and Hustle and Bustle
Another abomination of simplication: 跃=躍. For example: 跳跃, 社区活跃, 龍騰虎躍.
It's funny that Google Translate translates 龍騰虎躍 to “Hustle and bustle”.
Literally, each char in 龍騰虎躍 means “Dragon, rise, Tiger, Jump”. Together, they mean “dragons are rising and tigers are jumping.”. In Chinese culture, Dragon and Tiger are figuratively the kings of animals. Dragon being the king of the sky, and tiger the earth (or snake, if dark connotation is desired). The phrase 龍騰虎躍 is used to describe excitement and activity. So, “Hustle and bustle” is quite right.
Note that 龙=龍. I think it's also a bad simplification. The char is quite botched.
Now let's checkout 腾=騰. This is a good simplication because it is systematic, based on the component simplification 马=馬.