Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2012-12 to 2012-12

blue, dusk, a wandering waif
lazy songs, and the red caravan
wutong trees shaded the dancing shoes
the circus narrates the scene

anyhow; a dime you have or a boat of gold
anyhow; an ant you are or a god

i long for a fleeing peep
the contentment and wellness in a sip
the old red bearded man
a smile serene and plain
my dancing shoes swirl
i sing into a frenzy
i would withdraw into a being
the spinning carts cheer for me
how would i ever tire

王菲 — 流浪的红舞鞋 (Wandering Red Dancing Shoes)

Much updated. 20 articles of video recordings. English Accents

English Convention of Capitalization in Titles

In the North there's a lady,
stunning and singular.
One look confounds a city;
a touch dooms an empire.
Rather not wishing to know, the ruination that may follow.
Rare beauty is here and now.

House of Flying Daggers — The Beauty Song (十面埋伏 — 佳人歌)

“And there I saw the lady stripped to the skin, her limbs bound to four stakes and blood welling from her sides”

From Arabian Nights, The Second Kalandar's Tale

in typography, ligature is certain glyphs that are made up of combined letters. For example: fi=, ae=æ

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

Dave Pawson gave this example: “The wizened pariah addressed the calumny of his interlocutor with vagary, not liking the accusation of a complicity in inerrancy; whilst the leitmotif played gently.”

GRE Words

Learn 3 words from Gangnam Style: neologism, exude, lavish. The first one is a bit hard, it's a terminology from linguistics. The other two are highschool level words. PSY — Gangnam Style

Today's words, arcane words: oniomania, precocial, neonate

Oniomania

Oniomania (from Greek ὤνιος onios “for sale” and μανία mania “insanity”) is the technical term for the compulsive desire to shop, more commonly referred to as compulsive shopping, shopping addiction, shopaholism, compulsive buying disorder.
Oniomania, 2012-12-21

Vocabulary Study: Arcane

What's vestal virgins?

Answer: A Whiter Shade of Pale

Today's words, EASY: juvenile, genre, subordinated, tangible, protagonist, coming-of-age, unobtrusive.

Young-adult fiction. Quote:

Young-adult fiction or young adult literature (often abbreviated as YA), also juvenile fiction, is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults. The Young Adult Library Services (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen. Authors and readers of young adult (YA) novels often define the genre as literature as traditionally written for ages ranging from twelve years up to the age of eighteen, while some publishers may market young adult literature to as low as age ten or as high as age twenty-five. The terms young-adult novel, juvenile novel, young-adult book, etc. refer to the works in the YA category.

YA literature shares the following fundamental elements of the fiction genre: character, plot, setting, theme, and style. However, theme and style are often subordinated to the more tangible elements of plot, setting, and character, which appeal more readily to younger readers. The vast majority of YA stories portray an adolescent, rather than an adult or child, as the protagonist.

The subject matter and story lines of YA literature are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but, beyond that, YA stories span the spectrum of fiction genres. Themes in YA stories often focus on the challenges of youth, sometimes referred to as problem novels or coming-of-age novels. Writing styles of YA stories range widely, from the richness of literary style to the clarity and speed of the unobtrusive and free verse.

Example of Young Adult Fiction that's hugely popular in recent years:

Major update. Two hundred songs of humanity, literature, poetry, annotated for your reading pleasure. Xah Music

Today's words: débutante, ingénue.

If you want to remember what débutante means, this song makes it a permanent impression. Blondie - Dreaming.

A similar word is ingénue. And this song makes it: Mono ♪ “Ingénue”

See also: English Vocabulary: Foreign Words

Faye Wong has a song, called《彼岸花》 (Flower of Paradise). It is a beautiful song. Somber and tranquil, and the lyrics touches ancient Buddhism mythology — a couple who can never meet each other. 王菲 - 彼岸花 (Flower of Paradise)

Today's word: epiphany.

See: Epiphany in a Dream: Seat as Inverted Ass.

See also this UCLA Racisim incident: Racism Humor: Asians in UCLA, where the girl used the word “epiphany” as “… when i'm about to reach an epiphany…”.

Some words, are particularly attached to a thing, or a story, or a personal event, such that the word describes it “To a T”, that you'll think of the word whenever you think of the thing/song/event.

Can you remembers one thing, person, song, photo, event, phrase, that particularly remind you of a word?

PS “To a T” is a idiom. If you are not familiar, look it up.

Today's words: leitmotif, vagary, contingency, complicity, cull, wizened, inerrancy, pariah, calumny, interlocutor

GRE Words

Today's words: pyre, napalm, schizoid. See: 21st Century Schizoid Man

Today's words: burly, indefatigable, malaise, redux, anodyne, remonstrate, culpability, peripatetic, redoubtable, prognostication.

GRE Words

Make a sentence of it. If you just know one word or two, make a sentence of using the word you know. For advanced readers, concoct a single sentence using all words you know.

If there's a song for the word “sultry”, this is it Sharon Apple - the Borderline (Macross Plus)

Today's words: sectarian, respite, cognate, minutiae, avuncular, epiphany, titular, defeatist, estimable, capitulate.

GRE Words

English Vocabulary: Animalistic Cries (Onomatopoeia)

10 Difficult words: salubrious, capricious, putative, grist, euthanize, nettlesome, edict, jeremiad, cognate, maladroit.

GRE Words

How many do you know off the bat?

for I, for my own part, cannot think that these latter days of weak experiment, fragmentary theory, and mutual discord are indeed man's culminating time! I say, for my own part. He, I know—for the question had been discussed among us long before the Time Machine was made—thought but cheerlessly of the Advancement of Mankind, and saw in the growing pile of civilization only a foolish heaping that must inevitably fall back upon and destroy its makers in the end. If that is so, it remains for us to live as though it were not so. But to me the future is still black and blank—is a vast ignorance, lit at a few casual places by the memory of his story. And I have by me, for my comfort, two strange white flowers— shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle—to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man.

Time Machine: Chapter XII

Today's words: spindle, racket

spindle

Spindle (textiles) is the thing that winds threads. Compare to Ratchet ratchet.

See also: English Vocabulary: Noun Things

Online Dictionary with lots usage examples

Can you make 5 sentences involving the word “coalesce”? If you can, all power to you. else …

Here's a great vocabulary learning tool, at http://dict.bing.com.cn/#coalesce

It gives many usage examples of a word, gathered from current news.

This is fantastic. Because, traditional dictionaries only give one or two example, usually a exemplary usage, often from old writings that's a hundred years old. But the bing dictionary site, you can see many live examples.

The site is designed for Chinese people who are learning English, but that shouldn't bother you. For polyglots, the advantage is that it not only give you English usage examples, but also provide translation in Chinese. However, the translation to Chinese is done by machine. Often, it's incorrect.

Here's some other nice {Chinese-to-English, English-to-Chinese} dictionary sites, some also show English-to-English. But i haven't tried them in detail:

For English dictionary tools, see: Online English Dictionary Tools

thanks to 假日笛声 for “dict.bing.com.cn”. Thanks to Aphantee for “http://dict.youdao.com/”.

updated: English Writing Style: Oxford Comma and Strippers

today's words: armada, coalesce. A futuristic passage.

armada

At some point, the armada of devices we strap to our bodies like tools on Batman's belt will coalesce into a smaller number of multifunction devices. Equipped with radio links, a pda can serve as an appliance-control remote, a digital wallet, a cell phone, an identity badge, an e-mail station, a digital book, a pager and perhaps even a digital camera. There is sure to be a catchy name for this all-purpose Internet-enabled thingy, perhaps Wireless Internet Digital Gadget for Electronic Transactions, or WIDGET.
What Will Replace The Internet? By Vinton Cerf. At http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,997263,00.html

Shakespeare's Words: spleen, trull, deflower

Now will I hence to seek my lovely Moor,
And let my spleenful sons this trull deflower.

From Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus: Act 2.

What's the relationship between the words “troll” and “prostitute”? Their etymology gives us a clue.

today's words: pliable, pander, lest.

pliable

“Men in general are the 'funnier sex.” … No. It is not due “in part” to how men and women are socialized. It is due entirely to how men and women are socialized. Oh, but “psychology” says men are the funniest? Well, I guess we're done here! It certainly couldn't be that women just shut up and laugh because we're trained from birth that we're supposed to be pleasant, pliable, and inoffensive, and that we should pander to men at all times lest we be labeled an undesirable. No, the obvious explanation is that every time a woman tries to tell a joke, an invisible dream-catcher telescopes out of her vagina and snatches it from the air. Science.
Hey, Men, I'm Funnier Than You By Lindy West. At http://jezebel.com/5914084/hey-men-im-funnier-than-you

Make a sentence of it. Use it. Because if you don't, you won't remember it.

affected

Nepeta cataria (catnip) are known for their behavioral effects on the cat family, not only on domestic cats but also big cats. N. cataria is used as a recreational substance for pet cats' enjoyment, and catnip and catnip-laced products designed for use with domesticated cats are available to consumers. Not all cats are affected by catnip. The common behaviors when cats sense the bruised leaves or stems of catnip are rubbing on the plant, rolling on the ground, pawing at it, licking it, and chewing it. Consuming much of the plant is followed by drooling, sleepiness, anxiety, leaping about and purring. Some will growl, meow, scratch, or bite the hand holding it. Some cats will eat dried catnip; often eating too much can cause cats to be aggressive, typically making them hiss.
Catnip,

“women's pleasure without man is short of measure”

—Arabian Nights, The Porter And The Three Ladies Of Baghdad