Talk about a hiatus …

Posted in General at 1:34 am by Mithridates

Hmmm … the place really fell apart while I was away.

I guess several illnesses, a new house in a new state, a new job, and an amazing new baby daughter might have each played their role.

So it goes.

In other important news, the book count is over 8,000 - I have plenty of room for them now, but not the energy to unpack and arrange them. I’m working on it.


Bahasa Blogging

Posted in General at 11:15 am by Mithridates

Not that I can read it, but here’s a blog in (I think) Indonesian.



Posted in General, Language at 12:28 pm by Mithridates

In case you ever are stranded on Tattooine, this site offers some information about the constructed language Huttese, including a phrasebook and dictionary. Rumor has it that it was influenced by Quechua (about which there’s also some info at the site).



Posted in General at 1:01 pm by Mithridates

As I mentioned the 11 official languages of South Africa yesterday, I thought some Ndebele links would be appropriate.


Irish Language Law

Posted in General at 9:16 pm by Mithridates

New legislation has come into force in western parts of the Irish Republic to promote the use of the Irish language.

English place names no longer have legal status in the Gaeltacht, where Gaelic is traditionally spoken.

More than 2,000 towns, villages and crossroads in the Gaeltacht are commonly known by both their Irish and English names.

But from Monday, only the Gaelic versions may be used in government documents or ordnance survey maps.

Full story here.



Posted in General at 2:25 pm by Mithridates

Krio is a creole (no surprise there) spoken in Sierra Leone

Update: Some recordings of short tales in Krio at The Repository of English Dialect Samples (Thanks Bridget!)


Himalayan Languages Project

Posted in General at 10:42 am by Mithridates

The Himalayan Languages Project, headed by George van Driem:

… is a programme of ongoing linguistic research on hitherto undescribed and little known languages indigenous to the Himalayan region. Members of the multi-national research team consist of young linguists working towards their Ph.D. at Leiden University and post-doc researchers. …

Each Ph.D. candidate undertakes to produce a grammar of a Himalayan language, analysing and describing its phonology, morphology and syntax. The grammars include a bilingual glossary, morphologically analysed texts with translation, conjugational paradigms and a study of the people’s indigenous pantheon, eschatology, religion and rituals.

Inspired by this site about Bhutan (via PLEP).


Search Query Report

Posted in General, Language, Rabbits at 4:51 pm by Mithridates

Some of the search queries that brought people to this site:

  • austrian word for rabbit - I don’t have an Austrian dialect dictionary but in standard German it is Kaninchen; Hase is hare
  • find lionhead pyramid - I can’t even guess where this is located
  • easter rabet - perhaps they were looking for his Middle English cousin
  • nepali dictionary to forget - birsanu - unless of course, they were really looking for a forgettable dictionary
  • beothuk word for bear - as found in Beothuk Vocabularies by John Hewson, the Beothuk word for bear is either gwashuwet or washawet.

As a bonus, here is another Nepali dictionary.


Oh Yeah!

Posted in General at 10:45 pm by Mithridates

Something a little different - The Iceman’s Kool-Aid Package Art Gallery


Spring Break Shark Etymology

Posted in Etymology, General at 10:25 pm by Mithridates

I watched a bit of a really ridiculous movie Sunday night, and the protagonists attacking in formation (I always root for the fish) reminded me of the controversy surrounding the etymology of the word shark. The OED, noting the obscurity of its origin, suggests that:

The word seems to have been introduced by the sailors of Captain (afterwards Sir John) Hawkins’s expedition, who brought home a specimen which was exhibited in London in 1569. The source from which they obtained the word has not been ascertained. Cf. Ger. dial. (Austrian) schirk sturgeon …
The conjecture of Skeat that the name of the fish is derived from SHARK v.1 is untenable; the earliest example of the vb. is c 1596, and the passage alludes to the fish.

I recall having read that the word actually derived from a Mayan word for the fish, xoc - I’m not sure where the suggestion was (in A Forest of Kings, by Linda Schele and David Freidel?). I always thought it odd that the loan would occur so late for a fish that English mariners must have encountered at some point.


American Rhetoric

Posted in General, History at 1:54 pm by Mithridates

American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States - always did like Howard Beale’s speech in Network


Apparently, He Was Ossetian

Posted in General at 8:51 pm by Mithridates

Info from this biography of Stalin:

His first name is also transliterated as Josif. His surname, ჯუღაშვილი (Jughashvili), is sometimes transliterated as Dzhugashvili and occasionally rendered as Djugashvili. -შვილი (-shvili) is a Georgian suffix meaning “child”(son). Neither the word nor the name ჯუღა (Jugha or Dzhuga) belong to the Georgian language. On the other hand, the name “Jugaev” is known among Ossetians. In 1939, Georgi Leonidze wrote a poem about Stalin’s early years. The poem claimed that Stalin’s ancestors came from South Ossetian village of Geri . The poem was written during the purges and passed censors, and thus can be considered a significant source. These facts could be the basis of the rumors regarding Stalin’s allegedly Ossetian ethnical roots.


Cajun, I Guarantee

Posted in Books, General, History, Language at 6:32 pm by Mithridates

I just bought A Great and Noble Scheme, “the story of how the hapless French Acadians were run out of their Nova Scotia homes,” so I’ll offer a few Cajun links (and one for Creole):

On an unrelated note, I also purchased Madame De Pompadour, by Nancy Mitford, a biography of Louis XV’s mistress. It really doesn’t have anything to do with languages, at least as far as I’ve read, but it does mention le Comte de Saint Germain, a very … interesting … man from the eighteenth century. Among his other accomplishments, he was reputed to speak all the languages of Europe, though I haven’t tracked down the original evidence for that assertion. Some people think he’s still around. What’s two centuires if you were old when you met Jesus?


Gallery of Unicode Fonts

Posted in Computing, General, Language at 9:36 pm by Mithridates

An extensive Gallery of Unicode Fonts, at a site that purports to provide four basic travel phrases in many languages. Is the Hittite accurate?


Coptic Manuscript Trove

Posted in Books, General, Language at 7:51 am by Mithridates

Al-Ahram (The Pyramid) reports the find of several early Christian manuscripts written in Coptic (via Cronaca):

“It is a very important discovery, equal to the Naga Hammadi scrolls” found in 1945 in an Ancient Egyptian cave inhabited by Copts during the Roman era, said Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Hawass said the scrolls were originally found in a large sealed stone jar by a murderer while hiding from the police. But when the renowned writer Taha Hussein was the minister of education, he bought the scrolls in a marketplace and offered them to the Coptic Museum.

Hawass added that the scrolls include 13 religious and philosophic codices translated into Coptic by fourth-century Gnostic Christians and translated into English by dozens of highly reputable experts.

This English-Coptic dictionary at My Coptic Church might help your Coptic studies; they also provide a Coptic font (necessary for viewing dictionary results). I’m looking for another Coptic dictionary, but I seem to have lost the link. I’ll post it if I track it down.
    On a related note, the Oriental Institute of Chicago has an online version of their book Thus Wrote ‘Onchsheshonqy, an introductory grammar of Demotic Egyptian first published in the mid-1980’s.

Update: The other dictionary, a PDF facsimile of Walter Crum’s A Coptic Dictionary, has been taken down at the request of Oxford University Press.


Afghan Assortment

Posted in Books, General, Language at 1:17 pm by Mithridates

Some Dari and Pashto items:


Save a Bunny

Posted in General, Rabbits at 7:14 am by Mithridates

I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t know February was “Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month”. Adoptable bunnies can be found at Petfinder. Just remember NOT to give real rabbits for gifts at Easter - only chocolate ones.


Hello Fada

Posted in Computing, General, Language at 5:25 pm by Mithridates

Language Hat left a comment to this post of Irish links asking why he couldn’t see the fada’s (accute accent marks) on the letters on some pages; in Firefox, they are replaced with question marks in black diamonds (in IE, I think, they are replaced by various symbols, including Chinese characters). There are two issues here. The first, over which the viewer has no control, is how the web page in question is encoded. Specifically, the issue is whether it is Unicode compliant. The second is the encoding setting of your browser; this should match the encoding of the web page to see everything properly. In the case of this page of Irish stories, the encoding is not Unicode-compliant, and so the question marks appear. The default encoding in Firefox is UTF-8 (Unicode). Switch this by going to the View menu, highlighting Character Encoding, and selecting Western (ISO 8859-1). The steps are similar in IE. The characters should appear correctly now. Both IE and Firefox have an option for auto-detecting the encoding; this is turned off by default in Firefox.

Languages Beginning with M

Posted in Early Imprints, General, Language at 10:29 am by Mithridates

Continuing the tradition started with Mi’kmaq and Menorquí, links for various languages that start with the letter M:


Hieroglyphic Marxism

Posted in Books, General, History at 9:08 am by Mithridates

A purely graphical translation, by Hugo Gellert, of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. I like the octopus. Would you ever guess that this picture represents “The Mystery of the Fetishistic Character of Commodities Exchange”? (via Incoming Signals)

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