04 Mar

“Not bad, but I think I preferred Braveheart”

A glossary of useful Aramaic terms to keep in mind while watching The Passion of the Christ, including:

Ktaabaa taab hwaa meneyh.
It’s not as good as the book.

Feelmaa haanaa tpeelaw! Proo’ lee ksef dmaa!
This film is terrible. I want my blood-money back.

Ayleyn enuun Oorqey?
Which ones are the Orcs?

Oh, and the Braveheart comment mentioned above is Baseem, ellaa saabar naa d-etstebeeth yateer b-Lebeh d-Gabaaraa!

(Post edited to add:)

For more Passion fun, there’s the transcript of the film’s blooper reel.

25 Feb

“A nasty name for a nasty thing”

Matthew Hunt has written a lengthy article on “perhaps the single most offensive and censored swearword in the English language”, describing (among other things) its origins, euphemisms, and reappropriation by feminists. An interesting read, but if you are reading this at work, be warned that there are graphics at the top of the page that spell out said word, which, though only text, might still be an issue in some workplaces.

31 Jan

Amusing UK place names

From Crapstone to Great Cockup to Pratt’s Bottom: this list of “159 of the most stupidly named places in the UK” (i.e., names that are, as the page says, “smutty”) is quite entertaining. Each name is linked to a map of the location, just in case you don’t believe such places could actually exist.

You have to love a country with place names like Nasty, Rotten Bottom, and Twatt, don’t you?

18 Jan

Everything you might want to know about Oceania

Jane’s Oceania Home Page is a fascinating compendium of information about the islands of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. The site is not well-organized, so at first glance its depth might not be apparent — but it’s a vast amount of cultural and historical content.

Just a few examples of what can be found there:

You can spend hours just bouncing from page to page reading interesting things about the islands. I wish the site’s design and organization was a little better, but even despite that I think it’s quite wonderful.

26 Dec

A wee bit of Irish (or Scottish)

The BBC have put a tremendous amount of language-learning resources on their web sites. Tonight I’ve been listening to some of the Giota Beag (“A little bit”) introduction to Irish Gaelic. They are nice “bite-size” introductions to basic Irish, in RealPlayer format. They have a similar program for learners of Scottish Gaelic, as well, and this one is in Flash and HTML.

02 Dec

Vicip?dia Latina

Latin is a language I’ve always wanted to study, and never really had the chance. It wasn’t taught at any of the schools I attended (well, I suppose it was and is taught at the University of Washington, but I was only there for two quarters, specifically to take Japanese classes, so it wasn’t really an option at the time). A couple of years ago I posted about this great Latin-language world news site, but via this Metafilter post today, I’ve now found something that might even be cooler: a Latin Wikipedia. Maybe someday I’ll be able to read it.

19 Nov


I am trying to regain my German skills (I studied German for 6 years but have lost most of the vocabulary) by reading some online journals in German, and looking up the words and phrases I don’t know as I go along. The LEO German-English Dictionary is a great resource for this.

Today I stumbled on the word “der Gedankenaustausch.” It turns out that it means “exchange of ideas.” I like that. I’ll try to remember this one.

15 Nov

“Fidela, sincera subtenanto de internacia komunikado kaj amikeco”

When Ruth Moline decided she wanted Sidney Culbert’s hand forever, she said the three magic words, the phrase that would make her man’s heart flutter, then soar:

“Teach me Esperanto.”

And with that, Sidney was hers.

Sidney Culbert, who died two weeks ago aged 90, seems to have been a fascinating man. There aren’t many 14 year-olds like this, for example:

A standout student at Stadium High School who was disdainful of sports, he regularly organized the neighborhood children into performing Shakespeare plays. “He was putting on ‘Titus Andronicus’ at 14,” said nephew John Terrien, 53, of Tacoma.

“And he made damn sure people knew their lines.”

05 Nov

Language Luddite?

Are you familiar with the word “Luddite”? S. L. Viehl complained in her blog that writers shouldn’t use obscure words such as the aforementioned “Luddite,” and claimed that none of her surveyed acquaintances had ever heard of the word. Much commentary resulted from those who were surprised that such a common word should be considered “obscure,” especially by a writer. There were hard feelings, commenters were banned, drama ensued — but it looks like many people missed the actual point of the post: that those who don’t understand technology outnumber those who do, and it would be useful for the technophiles to use their knowledge and intelligence to teach others rather than to establish superiority over the neo-Luddite masses. “Knowledge,” she wrote, “is really only useful when it’s shared, not thrown.” This is a good point; too bad the use of a poor example word diluted it so much.

(Reported by languagehat, who survived the banning and follow-up apology with dignity intact. The sad thing was when Viehl replied to his apology by saying that, despite being a writer, she doesn’t like words very much. Can you imagine?)

29 Oct

I used to work at the Daily Zero.

It’s common for newspapers to have pejorative nicknames, both as internal employee dark humor, and as external customer commentary on the perceived failings of their local media. The Olympian, where I worked as a graphic artist in 1992-93, was once known as the Daily Olympian, hence the “Daily O” or “Daily Zero.” The Cooper Point Journal or CPJ at Evergreen was commonly called “The Seepage.” And I have heard the Seattle Weekly called “The Meekly” many times. I can’t remember what people call the Times or P-I, though, except for the old “Fairview Fannie” nickname for the Times.

18 Oct

“Timberland, have you met Infiniti and her sister L’Oreal?”

“A good working knowledge of the liquor aisle and car lot” was what psychology professor Cleveland Evans needed to analyze the names of US babies, in search of oddities. He found a certain amount of children given brand names. Like DelMonte. Or Celica. Or Courvoisier. Or Skyy — “the spelling a tip-off to an apparently inspirational relationship with vodka.” Though Evans has some concern that parents are “giving the message that children are possessions,” he does see the positive side of this.

“At least they tend to name them things with a positive image … you don’t see them naming their child Yugo.”

Of course, the Social Security statistics only include names that appeared more than five times. So there could still be four little Yugos out there.

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