Archive for the ‘english’ tag
I’d not realized it, but Samanth Subramanian points out that the latest presidential election — which brought Narendra Modi to power — there may mark the decline of English being the most important and prominent language in India:
Most recently, though, India’s major newspapers have been expanding in a different direction. In 2012, Bennett Coleman, the publisher of The Times of India, the world’s largest English daily, started a Bengali newspaper and poured fresh resources into its older Hindi and Marathi papers. Last October, the publisher of The Hindu, a 135-year-old English paper, launched a Tamil edition. Another leading English daily, The Hindustan Times, has enlarged the staff and budgets of its Hindi sibling Hindustan. And this past winter, a few months before the election, The Times of India launched NavGujarat Samay, a Gujarati paper for Modi’s home turf.
Selected by The American Scholar, Roy Peter Clark explains why these sentences are so great. An interesting perspective, the list. Here’s their first, from The Great Gatsby:
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
It’s a bit too breezy to really give you a sense of the accents in full, but ease and speed with which Andrew Jack switches among the accents it fun:
This is a neat little time suck. It’s not the simplest browsing experience, but people from all over the world read the same paragraph. I pulled out some examples:
- Native Cantonese speaking woman, 23 years old, from Hong Kong who has lived in Canada for 15 years
- English man, 19, from Chester
- Indian woman, 28, who spent seven years in the US
- Israeli man, 24, whose spoken English since he was ten
- Lithuanian woman, 24, who lived in the US for a bit over a year
- Somali woman, 50, who has spent five years in the US
- Male, 23, native Mandarin speaker who lived in Singapore and the UK all his life
- Zimbabwean woman who speaks four languages, and lived in the US seven years
- 42-year-old man from Pittsburgh who also speaks Mandarin
I’m pretty sure I’ll find fault with any such list that fails to include the word “marshmallow,” but Robert Beard’s is an interesting list.
(I think I also have to object to all words — especially French imports — with silent letters.)
And because I haven’t done it in over a year, any nominations?
Though this quiz is a tad on the detail-oriented side, I did enjoy it. I’m guessing you can do better than 23, but you’ll need to be able to tell an Estonian accents from a Lithuanian. Or a Canadian from an American.
I wasn’t aware of the massive unpopularity of semicolons among male literary types; apparently only the effete are supposed to use them.
Ben McIntyre, writing in the Times of London a couple of months later, added to the collection of semicolon snubbers: Kurt Vonnegut called the marks “transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.” Hemingway and Chandler and Stephen King, said McIntyre, “wouldn’t be seen dead in a ditch with a semi-colon (though Truman Capote might). Real men, goes the unwritten rule of American punctuation, don’t use semi-colons.”
Being a native (and, to my chagrin, monolingual) English speaker I’ve never much considered Wikipedia in other languages. The Arabic version is prehaps the most conspicuously small:
It has fewer than 65,000 articles, and ranks 29th among the various Wikipedias, just behind Slovenian, and well behind the artificial tongue, Esperanto.
Some possible reasons:
…young people find it easier to communicate in English online — whether chatting, sending instant messages or contributing to Wikipedia — both because not all keyboards are compatible with the Arabic alphabet and because they want their words to be more accessible to the wider world. (Some write in Arabic using the Roman alphabet.)
Joseph Bottum’s neologism for words with a ” kind of poetic, extralogical accuracy.” Some exploration:
In a logical sense, of course, some words are literally true or false when applied to themselves. Words about words, typically: Noun is a noun, though verb is not a verb. Polysyllabic is self-true, and monosyllabic is not. And this logical notion of autology can be extended. If short seems a short word, true of itself, then the shorter long must be false of itself.
But what about jab or fluffy or sneer, each of them true in a way that goes beyond logic? Verbose has always struck me as a strangely verbose word. Peppy has that perky, energetic, spry sound it needs. And was there ever a more supercilious word than supercilious? Or one more lethargic than lethargic?
We’ve all heard this at least once in the last decade, but Rabih Alameddine’s exploratation of Arabic words in English deserve a hearing. The bit most likely to be controversial:
We never say the French pray to Dieu, or Mexicans pray to Dios. Having Allah be different from God implies that Muslims pray to a special deity. It classifies Muslims as the Other. Separating Allah from God, we only see a vengeful, alarming deity, one responsible for those frightful fatwas and ghastly jihads — rarely the compassionate God. The opening line of every chapter in the Koran is “Bi Ism Allah, Al Rahman, Al Rahim”: In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. In the name of Allah. One and the same. […]
In these troubled times, creating more differences, further parsing so to speak, is troubling, even dangerous. I suggest we either not use the word Allah or, better yet, use it in a non-Muslim context.
Otherwise, the terrorists win.