The 13th-Century Revolution.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 22:29
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Posted by languagehat

Eric Weiskott describes “the 13th-century revolution that made modern poetry possible” — namely, the change from alliterative verse (“the form of poetry used in Beowulf, Piers Plowman, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”) to the accentual-syllabic meters that underlie what we think of as traditional English verse, which began around the end of the 12th century. Weiskott gives as an example “the opening lines of the Ormulum, a very long religious tract composed by a monk named Orm”:

Thiss boc iss nemmnedd Orrmulum
forrthi þatt Orrm itt wrohhte
(‘This book is called Ormulum because Orm wrote it.’)

(Gotta love both the spelling and the impeccable reasoning.) I liked the apposite Pound quote (“To break the pentameter, that was the first heave”) and this interesting paragraph:

So if alliterative metre doesn’t measure stresses, syllables or even alliteration, what does it measure? Scholars have been debating the answer to this question since the 18th century. Current thinking is that alliterative metre measures a more abstract unit termed metrical position. A metrical position might contain one syllable, or it might contain more than one. Specifically, any number of adjacent unstressed syllables count together as a single metrical position. So, for example, the run of three unstressed syllables in the second half of the line from Piers Plowman, –e was the, is formally equivalent to the run of two unstressed syllables at the beginning of the line, in a. That’s right: a metre in which 1 + 1 = 3. In Beowulf, the rule is fairly simple: four metrical positions make a verse. By the time of Piers Plowman, the arrangement of positions had got more complicated.

Thanks, Jack!

Stubbornly Multilingual.

Saturday, 23 September 2017 00:24
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Posted by languagehat

Josephine Stefani, who identifies herself as “Stubbornly multilingual,” responds to the Quora question “What are some good novels that don’t have an English language version?” I love this sort of thing, and you’ve got to be impressed with her wide range of literatures. She starts off with Ana María Matute (who “is someone in the Spanish-speaking community”), Ahmadou Kourouma (“considered a classic in the Ivory Coast” — I actually have his Monnew, though I haven’t read it yet), and Moussa Ould Ebnou (“Considered one of Mauritania’s greatest novelists”); here are her Russian picks:

Evgeniy Vodolazkin (who is, unfortunately, listed as “Volodazkin”) — I love the casual “You may, however, be able to locate some of these books in Romanian or Lithuanian.”

Lidia Charskaya:

Her books about boarding schools (Zapiski Institutki) and Sibirochka: Knyazhna Dzavakha are among her most famous, but they have not seen the kind of popularity they should have had in English because children’s books don’t appear to be a priority for foreign language translation. I mean, where’s the serfdom, the Russian revolution?

I have her Gazavat but (sigh) haven’t read it.

Maks Fray (Svetlana Martynchik and Igor’ Styopin), “a huge name when it comes to contemporary Russian language literature. They’re not very critically-acclaimed, however, aside from a few secondary literary prizes here and there, given the fact that their material isn’t usually considered ‘serious literature’.”

Dina Rubina: “The Russian-Israeli author is not a new name to anyone keeping up with modern Russian literature, but her latest book, Babiy Veter, published just early this year, has not yet been translated.”

Lyudmila Ulitskaya: “One of my new favourite authors, Lyudmila Ulitskaya is well known for her intergenerational family sagas in the backdrop of political turmoil.”

There’s lots more there; check it out. (Thanks, Bathrobe!)

#1023: “Academia, singlehood, + excuses.”

Friday, 22 September 2017 14:00
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Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain,

My question today is about academia and/or job opportunities and being single. I am a PhD candidate in a Very Good University in the US, and I will be on the academic job market in a year. I have a very good publication/presentation/committee/topic situation, so I should be doing fairly fine. However, my field is totally dominated by men, mostly from quite conservative countries/cultures. It’s even worse in industry (I have work experience pre-PhD and an internship).

Now, I am absolutely sure I don’t want to get married or have a cohabiting partner or “serious” relationship of any sort. If anything, I identify with relationship anarchy. I am happy like I’ve never been, and I feel like I’m thriving and my best self arises when I am alone and free. I do have many short and long romance stories with like-minded folks who are in the same line of thought, but I don’t have or want any “boyfriend” in the sense that other people seem to want me to have (focused on dating – getting engaged – moving in – marrying).

Usually, in academic conferences, in the informal networking events, or in my department, I get asked when I will be on the market, and if I prioritize going back to my country or staying in the US, this kind of things. I think it’s all fair game and I am thrilled some Big Names in the field show interest in me! But sometimes they ask things such as “will you have a 2-body problem?” or “well, eventually you’ll want to marry, right?” or “our school is in a city with plenty of young men!”. Or more bluntly “how come you are not married yet?” (my age – early 30s – is not a secret). I know those (mostly old, mostly men, mostly conservative) professors may just be trying to be nice(?), but I can tell by the way they look that I don’t fit in what they think is “a good woman” or “a normal person”.

I have told some (younger – some younger than me) professors in my department that I don’t want to marry and they all reply condescendingly “you’ll change your mind!” But they are not the ones who’ll make my hiring decisions (although they’ll write me letters of recommendation) and so I am not that much concerned. What about those from other schools who may want to hire or not hire me a year from now when I am on the market? When I have 5-minute interactions and they ask me topic/advisor/ideal placement/marital status. Should I tell them “I don’t want to marry” and out myself immediately as not-their-idea-of-good-woman? Should I tell them “oh I haven’t found anyone yet” and then lie (or risk that someone will try to set me up – it’s happened before!)? Should I just smile awkwardly and say “I don’t know!”? I also feel that, when I say I don’t want to marry, the person in front of me thinks I am lying. What if I tell them “no, I don’t want to marry, but I do want to have kids and I am very well informed about sperm banks and adoption agencies”. Will this kill forever all my job opportunities because of the single mother stigma?

It’s all a paradox, because they don’t like women because of the whole marriage and maternity thing, but they don’t like it either when women don’t conform to their standards of womanhood (wifehood?).

How can I navigate this? I do want to have a good academic placement but I want to know who won’t be supportive of my lifestyle to avoid their departments. But also, you know, academia is sometimes hard and there isn’t much choice of placement for a candidate. So at this point I mostly want to say something that won’t close all the doors but will make my point clear enough.

Any help will be welcome! Thanks so much!

Future Professor Badass

Dear Future Professor Badass,

As tempting as it would be to say a robotic “That is a sexist question” or give a long rambling Boring Baroque Response involving your theories of Relationship Anarchy whenever this comes up, here is the strategy I actually advise:

Them:Will you have a two-body problem?” (For people outside of academia, this means will you need the university that wants to recruit you to also factor in a job for your a fellow-professor spouse) or “But surely you intend to marry someday?” (Ugh) or “Good thing there are lots of young men here!

You:Thanks for asking. I’m lucky that I don’t have to consider that right now in my search and can just look for the best fit for my work.

Them:How come you are not married yet?” (This is a weird, rude question but I too have had older people from outside the US ask me this as if it’s a normal question. Then again, we in the US ask people what they do for a job right away, for this week’s Manners Are Relative reminder).

You: Smile awkwardly and say “I don’t know!“, as you suggest! Or, “It just hasn’t been a priority!” or “Search me!” or “I love being single” or “Has my grandmother been talking to you? It’s a question under much discussion in my family, believe me” or “Haven’t felt like it, I guess!

Whatever you say, keep it light and vague. The more you can answer calmly and confidently, without apology, the more people will take your cue in how they react.

 

 

I know all of this is sexist and invasive and weird and assumes heterosexuality when it should not but the individual people who ask you this think they are being kind and even helpful, especially if they are trying to recruit you to their campus. They want you to be happy and anticipate issues that they might have to work around so that you will want to stay forever at their school. They want to figure out if they have the budget to hire you and a spouse if they want you badly enough. They don’t want you to take the job and then leave in a year because it’s a romantic and sexual wasteland or because there’s no industry in the town except for the university and your (theoretical) partner can’t find work. It can be awkward attempt to mentor you, at least in some cases, so if you can find a way to be vague but positive and deal with the intentions (rather than the effects) of the question it will help you connect.

I wish it were not so, but right now you need a job so someday you can be the colleague who doesn’t ask newcomers these questions (or asks in a way that is actually helpful).

Answer with your vague positive statement, some version of “It’s not my biggest priority right now, which makes me feel very lucky! I have the luxury to just think about finding the right fit for the work I want to do. I know not everyone has that.

Then ask them questions about their lives.

  • “When you moved to [City Where University Is Located] what was it like to get your bearings?”
  • “Any advice for settling in in [City]? Where do the people who love it here shop/eat/hike/live?”
  • “Was it a difficult adjustment moving from [Country of Origin] to [City]? What was the biggest surprise?”
  • “What are the things about [City] that really make you feel at home?”
  • “Were you married when you moved here? How does your spouse like it here? What do they do?”
  • “How did you and your spouse meet?”
  • “Did you have to deal with a two-body problem? What was that like? How does the university generally deal with those?”
  • “What do you remember most from your first year of being a professor here?”

You can turn the conversation to their research or their teaching or questions about the students or the department, too. People like to be asked questions about things they are experts on, and in my experience professors like this even more than most people. Use their weird question as an opportunity to make a human connection and find out more about them as people and the place as a place to live and what you’re getting into. Be remembered as someone pleasant to talk to, focused on her work, and someone who asks good questions and is a good listener.

You’ve got this and you don’t need to make excuses for something that isn’t actually a problem. Good luck in your search.

 

 

 


The Split.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 13:33
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Posted by languagehat

Linguist Matthew Scarborough reports on a conference at the University of Copenhagen called The Split: Reconstructing Early Indo-European Language and Culture. He has a paragraph on most of the presentations, and they tempt me to wish I’d stayed in the field: “The Hittite verbal system and the Indo-Hittite Hypothesis,” “The Old Hittite ‘ninth case’ in areal and genetic perspective,” the etymology of Hitt. ḫišša– ‘thill, shaft (of a cart)’ and the feminine gender in Indo-European, “Did the Indo-Europeans have a word for ‘wheat’? Hittite šeppit(t)- revisited and the rise of Post-PIE cereal technology”… this sort of thing gets my blood moving faster. The third and final day of the conference consisted of archaeological papers, and he concludes his discussion with this excited paragraph:

For me, the final paper of the conference with the rather lengthy title After migration: how culture, genetics and language were reshaped by local processes of social integration: The case of Yamnaya and Corded Ware by Kristian Kristiansen was perhaps the most eye-opening contribution. To give some background, from my work with the MPI in Jena I have come to realise that the field of archaeogenetics has exploded in the last few years as the new techniques for extracting and analysing Ancient DNA (aDNA) have improved dramatically. What I hadn’t known is exactly how dramatically they have improved. The impression that I get is that it is a revolution to the field of prehistoric archaeology comparable to that of the introduction of Carbon-14 dating in the 1950s. Rather than butchering the very eloquent and well argued talk through a short summary, I would greatly encourage people check out the project that he has been investigating entitled The Rise: Travels, transmissions and transformations in temperate northern Europe during the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC: the rise of Bronze Age societies. I get the impression that we will see quite a few very paradigm-shattering results for the question of Indo-European origins and the Indo-Europeanisation of Europe based on archaeological syntheses of aDNA evidence very soon within the next few years. Very exciting times lie ahead in the near future, and I wonder if the question of when and where PIE was spoken – something that I previously thought to be an impossible question – might soon be able to get some sort of a concrete answer.

David Marjanović dumps cold water on him in the comments (“o.O We already did, back in 2013 mostly”), but Matthew says “as a pure historical linguist with only a passing knowledge of these things (and mind you, keeping my head down and trying to finish a Ph.D. in the intervening time), this is the first time I’d actually realised how groundbreaking the latest aDNA stuff was,” and I’m with him — it’s pretty exciting! Anyway, if you have any interest in this stuff, check out his post.

Episode 1551: Tonfa Tough

Thursday, 21 September 2017 10:19
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Episode 1551: Tonfa Tough

The "exotic martial arts weapon badass modifier" is a well known bonus that certain weapons get simply by virtue of not being bog-standard boring old Western European swords, daggers, maces, and similar weapons. Weapons from exotic cultures with curved or wavy blades definitely get a bonus, but the largest bonus is for blunt weapons used as an adjunct to martial arts.

The ultimate progression of this is of course the scrawny, mystical monk who can do twice as much damage by slapping someone with an open palm than a brawny knight can do with a two-handed sword.

Keybounce writes:

We have min-maxing with a stick. "Same as a blaster".

I have known someone who could make a first level RoleMaster character min-maxed to having two +20% modifiers on things that first level characters normally have no modifiers for; this is the same player who made a Champions character with a massive level of Strength (provides a bunch of benefits beyond just physical strength, such as physical defense) combined with Stretching to turn that Strength into a ranged attack.

I wish I could say that we have never seen a stick with a modifier made as strong as a sword. The truth is, I can't tell. My memory isn't good enough to separate what actually happened from the things we joked about.

But I absolutely love the line, "Yep same effect" / "We need to do more testing".

What I am noticing though, is the lack of the <roll>; the lack of hit numbers. Imagine, arguing for bonuses to hit for situation, weapon damage, all sorts of favorable things, and then rolling a two.

I might not remember what I rolled, but I did miss.

Hold on a second - "don't kill anyone", and firing a blaster? And somehow, these blasters are weak enough that they are only doing the damage of a stick? Since when did stun weapon blasters become so common?

— Keybounce

aurilee writes:

"Testing".

This is a great excuse to do basically anything.

You took some food from somebody's plate? You were testing it for poison.

You were pick-pocketing townsfolk at the market? You were testing your dexterity and reflexes after recovering from a severe injury to your hand.

You broke into the estate of a wealthy noble? You were testing his security. (Bonus points if you can convince said noble to compensate you with his fantasy-Italian red carriage.)

The list goes on.

— aurilee

Transcript

Getting the Knife.

Thursday, 21 September 2017 00:02
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Posted by languagehat

Wyatt Mason’s NYRB review of a number of translations of Pierre Michon (an author with whom I was unfamiliar) is an interesting read (as is pretty much everything Mason writes); Michon doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I love the anecdote that introduces the review. Mason begins: “When I was twenty and studying French literature in Paris, I signed up for an independent project in translation. My adviser’s only stipulation was that I translate something that hadn’t made its way into English.” He asks around and is told repeatedly that Pierre Michon is “one of our greatest living writers”:

In 1989, this was very much a minority opinion. Michon’s complete works amounted to three slender books, as I discovered in a bookstore near my school. The earliest, Vies minuscules (1984), ran to two hundred pages; Vie de Joseph Roulin (1988) was fifty-nine pages; and a third, L’empereur d’Occident (1989), was forty-nine pages. And while it would speak well of me to claim that I devoted the remainder of the afternoon to reading all three until the store closed, wringing my hands as I weighed the merits of each while hesitating over which to choose, I spent all of thirty seconds deliberating. The slimmest, the pages of which were printed in uncut signatures—to read them, I would need a knife—was unapproachable. The longest, which wasn’t long, seemed by comparison huge. So I chose the middle one, because it was short, and because I didn’t have a knife.

I got the knife thirteen years later. I was sitting with Michon and his wife in a restaurant down the street from their townhouse in Nantes. Across the intervening years, I’d translated four of Michon’s books into English and found them a small US publisher. [He met with the author each time.] These meetings had always been productive. Michon, who speaks little English, was generous with his time and clear in his responses, able to illuminate the many thorny passages in his work that his translator couldn’t unpack and dictionaries didn’t help decipher.

The 2003 meetings in Nantes were different. Michon was curt, dismissive. In the past, my incomprehension was met with patience, instruction; now my perplexities displeased him. […] And yet despite that morning’s agon, Michon proposed lunch out. In a booth, across from his wife, he sat between me and the wall. Confit de canard was ordered and served, accompanied by large serrated knives. I attempted conversation; conversation did not form. Plates were cleared. Michon held on to his knife. As he turned toward me in the booth for the first time, a tap of the tip of the knife he’d retained, now pointed at me, punctuated each word he spoke.

“So,” he began, “you’re an acceptable translator. Actually, no. You’re fine. But Vies minuscules is an exceptional text. It needs an exceptional translator. Understand?”

Michon’s face was gray, grim. I made a few sounds that attempted to communicate that I didn’t understand; that we had worked together for years; that I wasn’t clear what had changed; that I’d done the same work I’d done in the past and arrived with, I thought, the same kinds of questions but—

“But you haven’t even deciphered the text,” Michon said, loudly, pounding the table now with the fist that held the knife. The voices of the lunchtime crowd dimmed as the restaurant registered the disturbance. “You haven’t even deciphered it.”

With a terminal clack, Michon released the knife to the table.

“Let me out!” Michon shouted, pushing past me. “Let me out!”

Ouch! Many thanks to Trevor Joyce for the link.

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Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain,

Over the last year, a once close friend of mine and I have been experiencing the African Violet of broken friendship. We had been through a very intense multi-year creative work project together, and after the project finished and she moved onto another job, we kind of drifted apart. For my part, I felt that sometimes she could say very unkind or cruel things. I noticed about two years ago that I was working very hard to win her approval, and felt very anxious if I didn’t get it and recognized that this friendship had become a bit unhealthy. I still valued many things about my friend, and thought that by setting some boundaries I could change the dynamic. After any incident where she said something unkind (for example, that half of the work on my part of the project was not my own work, which really hurt my feelings) or been judgmental (for example, negatively commenting on the dynamics of my relationship with my partner or how much I was eating and snacking during the intense project), I would take some space. Over the last couple of years my confidence has grown, not just in this area but in many other areas of my life, and I have been able to deal with some anxiety issues I had and learn how to set boundaries.

She started mainly hanging out with some different friends, and although we were still in touch, our conversation was becoming more and more surface-level. Anytime I suggested meeting up she would be really vague or say no. I was quite hurt at the time that she didn’t seem to want to hang out with me anymore, but I knew that we had just been through a really intense period in our lives and maybe she needed her space. There was always room for our friendship to get renewed further down the line. Before yesterday, we hadn’t been in contact for about four months. There wasn’t anything particularly negative about our last contact, it just tailed off.

I recently got a new job that I am very excited about and yesterday, in a whatsapp group she is also part of, someone congratulated me on my new job. About an hour later I got an feelingsemail from my friend. It’s not a nice email. It’s basically a bitter rant about how I have changed as a person. She said she didn’t recognize me anymore and how she had become fed up of what she perceives as my faults, and me being distant, over the last two years. She said that she didn’t deserve this kind of behavior from me and that she had never thought I would cut her off like this, although she had seen me do it to others (I don’t know where this comes from, I haven’t cut any one off apart from one girl back in high school which was 15 years ago!). In her mind, I am the bad guy, and it doesn’t sound like she is open to listening to anything else. She did say congratulations about the new job at the end.

I want to reply in a kind and compassionate way, because there were many things I valued about our friendship. We were so close, and I miss her. However, I don’t know what to say or how to respond to this email. I understand she sent it in a fit of overwhelming feelings, and underneath the accusations and manipulative statements, really she’s just sad about the loss of our friendship. I am open to being friends again, and rebuilding our relationship but it can’t be like this. I want to acknowledge the email, but I don’t want to get caught up in back and forth about who did what, or act in a way that says I think this email is acceptable, or apologize for things I haven’t done. How should I respond to this feelingsbomb? Should I even respond? How can people respond kindly and compassionately to feelingsmail in general?

Best wishes,
I’ve got feelingsmail

Dear Feelingsmail Receiver,

Your friend is projecting all over the place and all over you, a behavior where you take the stuff you are doing (especially stuff that you feel guilty about or ashamed of or upset about) and assign that behavior and the blame for it to someone else. Like the thing where you kept trying to make plans and she rebuffed you is now all about how you’ve abandoned her. Interesting.

Also Interesting: The less time you spend with her, the happier and more confident you’ve become over time.

Interesting Indeed: A really happy moment for you (congratulations on your new job!) has become the catalyst for her to criticize and accuse you of being a bad person and a bad friend. Not cool.

I don’t know how you repair that. It sounds like the way you’ve been drifting away from each other has been organic, with you taking care of yourself by taking space when you need it, and her choosing the company of other friends over you when she needs that.

Now she wants you to apologize and accept all the blame for the fact that your friendship isn’t as close as it was, and she also wants you to chase her. Do you want to do any of those things?

In your shoes I might just write back “Wow, okay??? Thanks for the good wishes at least. As for the rest, I miss spending time with you, too,” and just ignore the steaming pile of Feelings and Accusations. And then I’d let the ball be in her court to follow up, either to apologize or to suggest a time to get together.

I predict she will find this answer from you somewhat maddening and not see it as the face-saving mercy that it actually is, but that’s not your fault or your work to do to deal with. You don’t owe her a point-by-point response to her projection or the emotional catharsis she sought at your expense. (Note: You don’t actually owe friendship or any response at all to someone who sends you such a mean, rude message!) If she comes back with an apology or invitation to grab lunch or coffee, that will give you some useful information and if she comes back with renewed vitriol about what a terrible friend and person you are that will also give you some useful information.

If you do eventually sit down and address the issues in the friendship someday, you could say “Well, I’d been feeling like you didn’t want to hang out with me, so I stopped pushing and gave you space. I guess we’ve been mirroring each other.” It’s true and is neither an accusation nor an apology.

You can also ask her “Well, in a perfect world, where we have exactly the kind of friendship you want, how would you like this to work out?” and see what she says. In a difficult conversation where there’s a risk of getting stuck in a back-and-forth “It’s your fault”/”No it isn’t” about the past, this question can prompt people to stop and articulate a positive vision for the future. What’s the best case scenario where you get to recover a friendship that works for both of you? This “workable” version may be a very tiny, small-doses thing or no friendship at all, but I think this is your best chance for finding out if anything here can be saved.


Mashina.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 18:07
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Posted by languagehat

I’m reading Veltman’s Воспитанница Сара [The ward Sara], about which I will have much to say when I’ve read further, but I’ve hit a passage whose final word puzzles me, and I thought I’d canvass the assembled multitudes — those, at any rate, familiar with 19th-century Russian. He’s describing a scene outside a Moscow theater on a cold night in the late 1840s or early 1850s (“before the invention of crinoline”); the coachmen and servants are trying to keep warm while the masters are inside:

Около экипажей тѣ же nляски въ одиночку, то же хлопанье руковицами; а ужь если можно оставить лошадей и на надежныя руки своей братьи, или незябкихъ мальчишекъ-форейторовъ, такъ компанія идетъ куда-нибудь по сосѣдству, гдѣ и чай горячій, и горячіе наnитки, и всякая провизія и пріятное преnровожденіе времени, и даже машина.

Around the carriages the same solitary dances, the same beating of mittens; but those who were able to leave their horses in the reliable hands of their own kind, or of young postillions who weren’t so sensitive to the cold, went somewhere nearby, where there were hot tea and other hot beverages, and all sorts of provisions and pleasant ways to pass the time, and even a mashina.

(The italics are Veltman’s.) That word машина, literally ‘machine,’ can mean a great many things in the 19th century (Dahl mentions, among other possibilities, flints, cigar guillotines, billiard stands, locomotives, and “anything huge or cumbersome”), and I have no idea what it might mean here. I asked Sashura, and he suggested it might be a mechanical music machine, like a carillon or an orchestrion (he provided this charming YouTube clip as an illustration). Any other ideas?

Update. It turns out (unsurprisingly) that Sashura’s guess was correct; he asked the question on Facebook and got a number of answers along those lines. For example, here’s Natalia Sokolovskaya quoting a specialist from Pushkin House:

Здесь – какой-то музыкальный аппарат. Ср. у того же Вельтмана: “Заняв номер в пять рублей в сутки, он вышел в общую залу обедать и слушать, как машина музыку играет” (“Приключения, почерпнутые из моря житейского. Саломея”, 1848).

Here it means some sort of musical apparatus. Compare this, in Veltman’s 1848 novel Salomea: “Having rented a room for five rubles a day, he went into the common room to dine and listen to the mashina playing music.”

Thanks, Sashura and all his FB readers!

[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1550: Mech (sic) and Chicken; or Los Pollos Caminos

It's good to have miniatures to help the players visualise enemy forces and battles.

And although improvised figures will do, it's definitely better to have appropriate miniatures.

(Yes, we know the Spanish is terrible and doesn't mean the same thing.)

aurilee writes:

It was the first walker-type! And he apparently had no miniatures.

The poor players, having to use their imaginations while playing a tabletop RPG. Oh the humanity!

And unfortunately, the GM never saw my very, very clever suggestion of gluing some guns onto Timon. So everyone had to suffer through chickens.

With guns.

— aurilee

Keybounce writes:

Something that I never realized before: Chicken miniatures.

There is no movie; this GM actually had chicken walkers, and chicken miniatures.

Chicken. Miniatures.

Never mind the deformed seal-walrus-whatever it was, where do you get chicken miniatures? Are there other farm animals yet to show up?

I find myself wondering, what would a cow standing on two legs like a meerkat look like? (Lorenda? Kria?). Oddly, I have no problem imagining that cow holding a gun.

Looking over the last two comics, I'm realizing the clear advantage of the chicken walkers: they bring in close air support. Easy to tell apart from enemy fire. Easy to tell apart from the kitchen mess.

But the whole design still seems wrong. It still seems too easy to take out one leg, and turn the main body into skeet. (Have we ever seen one of these guys self-destruct? There's always a self-destructing something in movies, right? Toss a grenade in, tie up their legs... do they self destruct? What kind of hum do they make before they go boom? There was a self-destructing speeder in the TV series, but that's not the same.)

So let's look at the soldiers. Last comic, we see a huge number of soldiers appearing with the walker. They spread out in front of the walker. This comic starts with two in the first panel, then has a lot more in the second panel.

So who is killing the soldiers, and why do we not see them shooting? It sure looks like there's a lot of bodies in the center of the last panel, but we don't see them being killed. Presumably, this is just the choice of screen captures. It sure looks like we see a soldier being shot in the last panel. But we don't see who is shooting them at all. Are they really running into a killbox?

Meanwhile, all of the other civilians have gotten out of the way. "Our heroes" are the only ones left to get into trouble.

— Keybounce

Transcript

Talking Gibberish.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017 00:49
[syndicated profile] languagehat_feed

Posted by languagehat

Gaston Dorren asks a very good question in Aeon: Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots? He describes the various attempts to pin down mankind’s original language (“German was a popular candidate, but the 17th-century Swedish scholar Olof Rudbeck favoured his own mother tongue, for a reason that was nothing if not creative: Sweden, he argued, was Atlantis, and thus the cradle of human civilisation”), citing LH’s own founding father, the Flemish author Johannes Goropius Becanus:

He claimed that the Dutch language, and the Flemish dialect of Antwerp in particular, was the direct descendant of the original language and the source of all others. His evidence was of an etymological nature. The name Adam, for instance, was derived from haat-dam (‘hate dam, dam against hate’), while Diets or Dutch was synonymous with d’oudste (‘th’oldest’). In the Low Countries, Goropius would enjoy some support for centuries to come; abroad, his name literally became a byword for fanciful etymologising: the eminent German scholar Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz called the activity ‘goropising’. Even today, the hypothesis of Dutch as the oldest language is kept alive by at least one linguist and one poet, both of whom seem to be embarrassingly serious about it.

He then talks about William Jones’s famous 1784 lecture in which he proposed the Indo-European language family, and continues:

Given the extensive body of historical knowledge they’ve collected since, especially about Europe and Asia, one would expect that claims of Goropian and Rudbeckian absurdity would be a thing of the past. They aren’t, however. To this day, dissidents seriously assert that mainstream linguistics has it spectacularly wrong. Science is not above errors, of course, some of them collective and persistent – think phrenology, think behaviourism – and linguistics is no exception.

He proceeds to Lemuria, the Sun-language theory, Saharan (“a close relative of Basque”), climate theory, and Marrism; he concludes:

The tricky thing about history is that so much has happened; about languages, that there are so many of them. […] The fantasists and dilettantes trawl through source after source in the hope of pulling aboard what seem to be relations and other connections. But in fact, the more documents they sift through, the more likely they are to find chance similarities and connections and draw spurious conclusions. And if established scholars disagree with them, they will typically respond in a petulant manner, rather than take their criticism seriously. […]

If you enjoy crackpottery, click the link; you’ll have a good time. (Thanks, Bathrobe!)

It Came From The Search Terms: September Gurls

Monday, 18 September 2017 17:50
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Posted by JenniferP

Video description: The Bangles cover Big Star’s September Gurls in Pittsburgh in 1986.

It’s time for the monthly thing where we answer the things people typed into search engines as if they are actual questions. This feature is generously funded by Patreon supporters.

1 “How to stop a neighbour and hubby putting me down every time I walk past
.”

Ugh, your husband is being a giant asshole, and it’s time to tell him straight up to knock this behavior off. “Stop doing that. It’s rude, disrespectful, and it hurts my feelings.” If he won’t, you’ve got Husband-problems more than you have Neighbor-problems.

2 “What does it mean when a girl says focusing on school right now after you say your feelings
.” 

It means she did not enthusiastically say “Yes, I feel the same way, let’s definitely date each other!” It means she’d rather focus on school than go out with you. Interpret it as “No.”

3 “Anonymous STD notification letter.”

National treasure website Scarleteen recommends InSpot  for sending an anonymous e-card and has a good how-to guide on doing this kind of notification. Australia has a service called Better To Know that lets you notify partners of possible Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) anonymously via text or email. In both cases, you enter info, the person gets a message that lets them know that they may have been exposed to an STI (+ there’s a way for you to enter which ones) and should get tested. There’s a good roundup of similar services in this article.

If you’re feeling blue and alone in this, the Netflix show formerly known as “Scrotal Recall” (now renamed Lovesick) is a romantic comedy about a man who must notify past sexual partners about possible chlamydia exposure.

If you don’t want to go anonymous, a simple text or phone call that says “Hey [Sex Friend] I recently tested positive for ________. You should get checked out, too” is a very kind and ethical thing to send. The more we all remove stigma and shame around STIs, the better job everyone can do taking care of ourselves and each other.

4 “My boyfriend mom prophesied that we are not meant to be together.”

Translation: Your boyfriend’s mom does not want you to be together.

What do you and your boyfriend want?

5 “When some knocks on door and says the Lord compelled them to stop and talk to you.”

Translation: The someone wanted to stop and talk to you.

What do you want?

6 “How to decline a neighbor asking us over

.”

“How nice of you to think of us, but no thank you.”

7 “What to do when your friend sets you up on a blind date and the guy’s interested in her.”

Acknowledge the awkwardness, have a good laugh together, tell the guy “good luck, dude, tell her how you feel and maybe we can avoid this sitcom nonsense next time” and go home with your dignity. You didn’t do anything weird.

8 “Should you invite girls of interest to your party

.”

Throwing a party is a great reason to invite someone that you might be interested in romantically over. That person can meet your friends, see your place, everyone can see how everyone gets on together, you can get to know each other better without having it be a DATE date, etc. Why not?

Now, girl(s) plural is an advanced move, but again, why not?

9 “What do you do when your daughter owes you money and is not paying you back but takes vacations and spends a lot
.”

Ugh, this is a hard one. Here are some steps for dealing with friends and family members who are not good/prompt/conscientious about paying back loans,

a) Assume that you won’t ever be repaid. Take whatever steps you need to shore up your own financial well-being so that you’re not depending on that money. If you do manage to collect it it will be a happy thing.

b) Ask the person to repay you what they owe. If you bring up fancy vacations or their other spending they will get automatically defensive, so skip that part in your request (even if it is relevant to the issue). Why skip it? You don’t need the story about how she bought the tickets long ago or how they were really a gift from a friend and you don’t want to give her a reason to feel judged and aggrieved (even if judgment is warranted). The vacation money is spent. It’s not coming back. She knows that you know that she knows that she owes you money. Just be simple and direct and ask for what you need:

Script: “Daughter, you still owe me $______. When can we expect repayment?” or “Daughter, you still owe me $_______. Can you repay me by (date)?” Brace yourself for the wave of defensiveness and excuses that is coming. Do not, I repeat, do not get into the details of her spending or her excuses or reasons. Just repeat the question. “Okay, so, when can you get the money to me?

c) Don’t lend this person any more money. You may or may not ever get the money back, but you can definitely control whether you lend them more. You now have a lot of information about how they’ll behave when you lend them money and you both have a hard, awkward lesson. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior here, and “I’m sorry, Daughter, I don’t feel comfortable lending you money since you didn’t pay me back” is a situation your daughter created, not you.

I hope you get a good result. Also, general thought, if you are going to lend money to friends or family, it’s a good idea to put something in writing: How much, what it’s for, when & how will it be paid back. Your script can be “Let’s just write it down so we all know what the agreement is and I never have to bug you about paying me back.

10 “Etiquette of peeing when surfing.”

We are people of action and lies do not become us: In the unlikely comedy of errors that lands me on an actual surfboard in an actual body of water, there is no way on earth my enthusiastic and prolific middle-aged bladder is gonna be able to wait until I swim to shore, find a land-based bathroom, and peel off my wetsuit in time to pee decorously in a toilet. This seems like a “it’s a big ocean” and “that’s between you and your wetsuit” issue to me, but maybe an actual surfer has insight?

11 “How to make girlfriend move out to Colorado.”

You do not make. You ask, and then she either moves or she doesn’t.

12 “I have to leave the Midwest or I will die but my husband thinks it’s all in my head.”

Ok, this seems like a REALLY specific situation and we are DEFINITELY missing context here but what if I said “Even if it were in your head, is your need to go so great and so urgent and so necessary that it’s worth going alone, even if that’s a difficult & sad decision?”

13 “Dating female academic awful
.”

It certainly can be, since the prospect of relocation is always hanging over the whole deal.

14 “He said he wants to do his own thing and maybe see other people.”


Translation: “I am planning to see other people and have less energy/focus/time/interest for a relationship with you.”

It’s a prelude to a breakup, possibly one where “he” either wants you to be the bad guy and actually do the breaking up or where he’d like you to stick around in his life but in background/low-priority mode.

15 “My 23 year old son looks so unattractive, but he won’t shave or cut his hair
.”

[Bad Advisor] Well, it’s definitely 100% his job to make sure his face and body look attractive and acceptable to you, his parent, at all times so definitely be sure to bring this up as often as possible! Your concern, constantly expressed, will only bring you closer together as a fellow adult human strives to please you in all things, including and especially the hair that is growing on his personal face and body where he lives and you do not.

Also, to be on the safe side, hide all of your copies of the musical about this very question, lest he get ideas about fur vests, naked dancing or protesting the Vietnam War.

It is not only your business but your duty to set this young man straight. [/Bad Advisor]

16 “What does it mean if you ask for a guy’s phone number and his response is he is antisocial
.”

He did not want to give you his phone number, or, if he does/did, he is warning you that he doesn’t want to actually hang out. Try again, another dude, another day.

17 “Fucking past due invoices.”

Fucking the worst.

18 “Girlfriend of 11 years is leaving me
.”

Wallow. Fuck Around. Do The Thing.

Repeat the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear to yourself.

(Or not, as it suits you).

19 “Angry that my husband allows his parents to come whenever they want
.”

This would make me angry, too. His family may have a drop-in culture or agreement and expectations, but you do not, and therefore the family that you and your husband make together does not. There are several conversations/actions that need to happen if they haven’t already (and maybe they have and need to happen again):

a) “Husband, I want your folks to feel and be welcome in our house, but to make that happen I need some advance notice. Please ask them to call first and ask if we’re free, and please check with me before you say yes.” 

b) “In-Laws, I really want you to be and feel welcome in our house, but I need more advance notice than you’re accustomed to providing. Just dropping by, even when I’m happy to see you, really stresses me out. I know this is different from how you do things in your family, but I need you to call first and ask if I’m free or if now is a good time. Thanks!” 

c) “Husband, I know I’m somewhat ‘changing the rules’ on your family, but I really need some consideration here. Back me up.” 

d) When they just drop by anyway and your husband isn’t home try: “Oh, too bad this isn’t a good time, I’m just stepping out” + LEAVE (go to the library or run errands or something, just take a drive around the block on principle). Btw if they have keys and are in the habit of just letting themselves in, put the chain on when you’re home alone. Teach them that you won’t drop everything because they came over.

e) When they just drop by anyway and your husband is home, “Oh, too bad, this isn’t a good time, I was just about to take a nap” + HIDE (in your bedroom with the door shut  – keep books handy – and let him do whatever work of entertaining them). Risk seeming unwelcoming and unfriendly. You ARE unwelcoming…to people who invite themselves over.

This didn’t start overnight and won’t go away overnight but in my opinion it’s a battle worth picking.

20 “How to agree a girl for fucking if she dislikes doing it.”

Find someone else to fuck. Someone who likes doing it. Someone who enthusiastically likes doing it with you.

What the fuck, people.

21 “Got an apology from my ex after 15 years
.”

That had to feel weird.

Whether this was welcome or unwelcome contact, there’s one important thing you should know:

It doesn’t obligate you to do anything or feel anything or re-open any kind of contact with this person. If you want to talk to them, ok? You could say “Thanks for the apology, I forgive you and wish you well” if that is true of how you feel.

But if you’d rather let the past stay in the past, you can 100% delete the weird Facebook message or whatever and go on with your life.

22 “Did the date go good or bad?”

This is a great question. You can’t control whether another person will like you, so after a date ask yourself:

  • Did I enjoy myself?
  • Was I relaxed and comfortable with this person?
  • Could I be myself around this person?
  • Did the conversation flow?
  • Did I feel like the other person was on my team, helping the date go smoothly and laughing gently at any awkward moments? Or did the awkward silences turn into awkward chasms on the edge of the awkward abyss?
  • Did the other person seem at ease and comfortable with me?
  • Was the actual time we spent together fun/enjoyable/comfortable/pleasurable?
  • Was it as good as spending time alone doing something enjoyable or with a good friend or do I wish I’d just spent the evening at home?
  • Was I bored? Checked out? Apprehensive?
  • Was it easy to make plans?
  • Do I feel like the person was listening/paying attention/engaged?
  • (If kissing is a thing you’re interested in) Can I picture myself kissing them?
  • Am I looking forward to hanging out again?
  • Were there any red flags?*

If the date went well for you, where you enjoyed yourself and felt good, ask the person for another date. The rest is up to the other person.

If you can get in the habit of checking in with yourself about your own comfort and enjoyment levels during and after dates, even a “meh” date can be useful because you’ll know more about yourself and what you’re looking for.

*Bonus list of some of my personal First Date red flags from back in the day when I bravely put on clean shirts and lip gloss and met strangers from the Internet for drinks:

  • Was the person I was meeting generally congruent with the person presented on the dating site and during any prior conversations? If you’re “single” on the dating site and suddenly “planning to get divorced btw we still live together and no one at work knows we’re separated so I’d appreciate your discretion” when we meet, if you’re 28 in all your dating site photos and 58 in person…it was not going to work.
  • Did the person monologue the whole time?
  • Did I feel like I was monologuing the whole time at someone who just shyly stared at me and nodded? (The Silent Type is a great type and it may be your type but experience tells me it was not mine).
  • Did I feel like I was an unpaid nonconsensual therapist while someone shared everything about their life?
  • Did the person constantly talk about their ex & exes?
  • Was literally everything they said a complaint about someone or something?
  • Were these complaints at least funny and entertaining?
  • In these complaints was nothing ever their responsibility? Was it just a long list of Ways I Have Been Wronged By Others with a subtext of Surely You Have A Duty To Not Disappoint Me Like Everyone Else Has (Now That You Know My Tale of Woe)?
  • Ugh, mansplaining, especially politics or philosophy, how movies get made, the “authenticity” of whatever food we were eating, the makeup & history of the neighborhood where I lived and they did not (for example when I failed to pick the “most authentic” taco place in Pilsen or Little Village), telling me why everything I liked was actually overrated.
  • Talking during movies. No.
  • Taking me to some sort of performance and then critiquing how much it sucks into my ear in real time. No.
  • Overfamiliarity, over-investment. “I can’t wait to introduce you to my son, he’s going to love you!” Ok but u just met me I am still wearing my coat slow down friend.
  • Overdoing innuendo & sex talk too soon, like, “I just got a new bed, it’s very comfortable, you’ll have to come test it out with me later heh heh.” Ok but u just met me I am still wearing my coat slow down friend.
  • Overdoing it with the touching. If dinner and a movie remind me of how my cat likes to constantly crawl all over me and make annoying biscuits everywhere it’s too much touching!
  • Negging of all sorts, especially “I don’t usually date ________, but you seem really cool.” (Bonus Nope!!!!! if the blank includes fat people, feminists, “women who seem really smart”)
  • Constant contact, expecting constant texts/calls/emails before we’ve even met in person, all up in my social media biz, “liking” every single photo/comment going back through the archives. It feels good to be seen and not so good to be surveilled.
  • Neediness  – We literally just met, so, surely there is someone else in your life who can drive you home from dental surgery or hold your hand while you put your dog to sleep or fly home with you to your father’s funeral or weigh in with you about whether you should accept this job offer? (All true stories of actual things actual men wanted me to do after a few emails and one hour-long bar or coffee date). I will move mountains to take care of people I love, when, you know, I have had a chance to figure out if love them.
  • Casual, “ironic” sexist or racist comments, dropping code sentences like “I hate all the political correctness these days, I feel like I can’t say anything.
  • Bringing your feature screenplay to the date for me to read.

Your Mileage May Vary, as the great saying goes. My list doesn’t look like anyone else’s and I may have had stuff on there that is not necessarily a problem in itself or not a problem for you, or where there are exceptions to be made (I did drive the guy home from dental surgery as a human favor for a fellow human being, I just didn’t date him more) or that are just differences in styles and interest levels. It’s not meant to be universal and it’s about compatibility with you vs. any one thing being Good or Bad.

I’m including the list because I developed it over time by paying attention to what made me feel good, comfortable, safe, relaxed, happy, excited and what made me feel the opposite.I stopped asking people “Is this normal/cool/okay thing when you date?” and started asking “Am I good with this?” and “Am I delighted by this?” Those experiences (and the decision to be picky about second and third dates) helped me avoid some entanglements that would have been fleeting at best and draining at worst, and it helped me know “Just Right” when I saw it.

We focus so much on the auditioning aspect of dating – Am I good enough? Does the other person like me back? – that our own comfort and needs and pleasure can get lost right when we need them most. It was a good date if you enjoyed yourself and felt good and did your best to be kind and considerate. It was a bad date if you didn’t enjoy yourself. Whether a good date will lead to another one is up to more than just you.

 


Khalatov’s Hat.

Sunday, 17 September 2017 21:25
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Posted by languagehat

Occasionally I feel guilty about neglecting what is, after all, part of this blog’s name, but now I have an occasion to remedy that failing. I’m reading Yuri Slezkine’s The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution (a very generous gift from an LH reader); it’s over a thousand pages long, because it combines several strands of narration into one book, and one of those strands is a collective biography of some of the people who wound up living in what has become known as the House on the Embankment since Yuri Trifonov’s novel of that name (published in 1976). One of those people was Artemy Khalatov (Russian Wikipedia article), described thus on pp. 383-4:

One of Koltsov’s closest collaborators and head of the Association of State Book and Magazine Publishers (OGIZ), moved into a large, six-room apartment on the seventh floor of Entryway 12 (four floors below Rozengolts). […] Khalatov (thirty-five at the time of the move) was famous among the Bolsheviks for his long curly hair, full beard, and Astrakhan hat, which he rarely took off. Before being put in charge of nationalizing and centralizing the publishing industry, he supervised rationing in War Communism Moscow, chaired the Commission for the Improvement of Scholars’ Living Conditions, founded the State Puppet Theater, and, as head of People’s Nutrition (“Down with kitchen slavery! Long live communal food consumption!”), inspired Yuri Olesha’s Envy.

(I wrote about Envy here.) And then, on pp. 457-8, Slezkine quotes this passage from the memoirs of Ivan Gronsky, editor of Izvestia (and another resident of the House), about a Politburo meeting on August 5, 1931:

On the agenda was the work of OGIZ. The presenter was Khalatov. He entered the room and stood, not where he was supposed to, but at the other end of the table, closer to Stalin. Just as Khalatov was about to begin, Stalin suddenly asked:

“Why are you wearing a hat?”

Khalatov looked lost.

“But you know I always wear this hat.”

“It shows a lack of respect for the Politburo! Take off your hat!”

“But, Iosif Vissarionovich, why?”

I had never seen Stalin in such a state. Usually he was polite and spoke softly, but now he was absolutely furious. Khalatov still did not remove his ill-fated hat. Stalin jumped up and ran out of the room. We all began to reason with Khalatov in semi-facetious terms: “Artem, don’t be silly. . .” Khalatov relented, and began his report. Stalin came back, sat down, and raised his hand. Molotov, as usual, said: “Comrade Stalin has the floor.”

The General Secretary’s brief intervention can be summarized as follows: “The political situation in the country has changed, but we have not drawn the appropriate conclusions. It seems to me that OGIZ should be split up. I propose taking five publishing houses out of OGIZ.”

The proposal was accepted. Khalatov left the meeting as a nobody.

Wearing hats indoors can be dangerous! And note that in 1931 it was still possible to think you could get away with arguing with Iosif Vissarionovich. (If you’re curious, here’s an image of Khalatov in his hat.) But he did not in fact leave the meeting as a nobody; Slezkine concludes the passage by saying “He continued to live in the House of Government and to wear his hat.”

Episode 1549: Walk This Way

Sunday, 17 September 2017 10:11
[syndicated profile] darths_and_droids_feed

Episode 1549: Walk This Way

If you want to introduce some plot point to your adventure, try throwing it into the middle of a running battle, instead of just having an NPC talk about it during a social encounter.

Actually it might be interesting to try doing this for all your plot points. You might need a lot of fighting though.

Keybounce writes:

In panel two, did Bria just throw a grenade back at the troopers? Also, that's a pretty darn big explosion.

Now then, containers of large crystals. Are these by any chance Khyber saber crystals? Light saber crystals? Special hyperspace piloting crystals? Solidified spice from sandworm extract?

Were there any chicken walkers in the prequel trilogy? Is this the first appearance of a chicken walker in the Star Wars timeline? And can you imagine a meerkat walker?

Once again, we are reminded that talking is not a free action. The enemy is taking action even while you are trying to figure out what the enemy even is.

Still, does this mean that if you have a large group of four-legged walkers approaching you, that you are on the cow level?

— Keybounce

aurilee writes:

As of writing this annotation, I have had "How Many Toes Does a Fish Have?" (from Tacky the Penguin) stuck in my head for a good 3 hours. And thinking about it now, it's just the tune my dad invented when reading me the book as a kid, so it's entirely possible that I can safely not infect anyone else with the song.

For those not familiar, the ditty goes:

How many toes does a fish have?
How many wings on a cow?
I wonder, yup I wonder

But moving on...

I guess chronologically this is the first "walker-type" machine the GM had introduced. The AT-ATs then would be a case of "these ones are even cooler and scarier because I added more legs!"

As for these walkers, Sally seems to have the most accurate analogy. It definitely looks more like a meerkat. With guns, that is.

If only the GM had some old Lion King figurines lying around, he could have just made a big commando-Timon to terrorise the marketplace.

— aurilee

Transcript

Terroir.

Saturday, 16 September 2017 21:27
[syndicated profile] languagehat_feed

Posted by languagehat

The AHD defines terroir as “1. The aggregate characteristics of the environment in which a food or wine is produced, including regional and local climate, soil, and topography. 2. The flavor imparted to a food or wine by such characteristics” (it’s from Vulgar Latin *terratōrium, alteration of Latin territōrium, territory); it’s pretty much a foodie term, but a useful one, and I’ve been familiar with it for many years. I was thus interested to learn from William Doyle’s TLS review of Thomas Parker’s Tasting French Terroir: The History of an Idea that “the regional variety of wine and food produced in France was clearly recognized as long ago as the sixteenth century, and positively celebrated in the earthy writings of Rabelais” (I pause to note the appositeness in this context of “earthy”); Olivier de Serres‘s “instantly popular” Le Théâtre de l’agriculture (1600) used the term frequently. But “in the seventeenth century it ceased to be anything to celebrate”:

Dictionaries of the time began to define the term as an undesirable taint, something disagreeable to good taste and polite society. In a kingdom whose values were increasingly dictated by metropolitan and courtly high society, the idea of terroir signified all that was uncouth and provincial. The best food and wine should have no hint of strong regional character, any more than the best people sounded or behaved like provincials.

The term was revived by Rousseau and was looked at askance by the rationalizing, centralizing Revolution; “What everybody agreed on was the superiority of French terroir to anywhere else.”

The review ends with a question as to whether the concept is in fact distinctively French: “Was the term terroir (which has no precise English equivalent) uniquely French, or could some similar notion be found in the culture of other European countries?” I’m sure the answer is “yes and no,” just as with hygge and sisu and all the other supposedly untranslatable terms.

[syndicated profile] captainawkward_feed

Posted by JenniferP

Hi Captain,

I have a minor problem that as of now is entirely one sided. I am in college and have a group of friends who graduated ahead of me because I had to take a year off from school due to medical reasons. During that time they got close to another person lets call her N in my absence when I got back I tried to be friendly with her but she didn’t reciprocate but didn’t reject outright. I didn’t push and we are at best acquaintances. On of my close friends lets call her X moved to the area because of a job and while I was helping her move in. It slipped out that N doesn’t like me because of my voice and mannerism or something ridiculous like that. I felt vindicated because I got the feeling she didn’t like me. I was mostly annoyed but a little hurt, but I understand you have the right to choose who you want to interact with.

The problem is X is still close friends with N because she also lives near by and sometimes invites me to things for example N is having a barbecue and invited X and then she asked me to come. X said yes and asked me to bring cups and ect. When its the three of us N and X tend to talk I kinda get shut out of the conversation and I see no effort on N’s part to keep me involved these talks can go on for a while and leave me as a third wheel. When we talk and N is there I make efforts to keep her in the conversation. I really don’t want to interact with N  or hear about her at all because of how she wrote me off because of my voice and how she reacts when I am around. But X talks about her, the things they do together and invites me along with them some times i do not want to go and I can tell N doesn’t want me. An example was before i knew for sure she didn’t like me we were planning a bike trip, N “helpfully” asked me if I was physically able to go, she has never shown any concern about it and it came out of no where, I got the feeling I wasn’t wanted so I backed out of the plans. (turns out they wanted to bike and drink and I cant’t drink).

I want to stay friends with X but I don’t want to hear about N or what they do together or really interact with her at all. I am unsure how to bring it up with X without sounding completely petty or jealous because N has technically never told me this in person as I said I was talking with X and mention N didn’t seem to like me that much and she let is slip out. Do you have any scripts I can use or should I just suck it up. 

-Third wheeling it like a champ

 

Dear Third Wheel,

Here’s a six step process for disengaging from hangouts with N while nurturing your friendship with X to the extent possible. Ready?

1. Next time X invites you to do something with X + N, say, “No thanks!” and don’t go. Repeat forever. This is the most important, if you do nothing else, do this step.

2. Invite X to do something with just you. “I can’t make it to N’s, but I’d love to have lunch with you sometime soon, let me know when you’re free.”

3. Tell X “It’s cool that you are friends with N, but I don’t think N and I are destined to be close, so please don’t feel like you have to work so hard to bring us closer together or invite me to hangouts with her. Go enjoy yourself – I’d rather just fly solo with you when you have time.”

4. When X talks about N, make it boring. Don’t ask questions, change subject as soon as possible, for example by asking questions about things that just relate to X or to you and X.

5. If X tells you things N says about you, tell X “I’m not really interested in knowing stuff like that. It just hurts my feelings.”

6. Put your energy into other friendships. Meet some new people (college is full of opportunities to reset social groups), cultivate one-on-one friendships and smaller-group friendships with people you like. Don’t let N + X be the central hub of your social life or the only ones planning things or doing inviting in your group. Right now the equation feels like [(THE WHOLE GROUP (X + N))-YOU] but it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Here’s a bonus script for anyone in X’s shoes:

Ns of the World: “I really don’t like your good friend, Letter Writer.”

Xs of the World: “Okay? Not everyone is destined to be friends. Good to know, though, I’ll stop scheduling group hangouts.”
 
Ns of the World: “It’s just, their mannerisms and voice annoy me.”

Xs of the World: “Weird, why on earth would you tell me that? Letter Writer is my friend and I don’t know why you think I’d want to hear you insult them, especially something they have no control* over.”

Ns of the World: “It’s just that their voice…”

Xs of the World: “Let me cut you off right there. Y’all don’t have to be friends, but you should drop this.”

*If N thinks the Letter Writer/friend-of-friend was mean or had mistreated someone, that’s a different script, but “I just don’t like this person” is reason enough – you don’t have to elaborate on the details to someone that likes that person!

Also for X, when you know two of your friends don’t get along, stop trying to be the social director pushing them together. You can like two people who don’t like each other. You can expect that they’ll do some adjusting for your sake, but be kind to them and yourself and make separate plans to see them. (This goes for every “my best friend and my romantic partner don’t get along what should I do” letter btw. You can’t force it!)

I hope things get better and simpler for you soon, Third Wheel. I think they will as soon as you stop putting yourself through these awkward three-person hangouts!

 


Censored!

Friday, 15 September 2017 18:43
[syndicated profile] languagehat_feed

Posted by languagehat

My loving and tolerant wife abetted my addiction by taking me to Grey Matter/Troubadour Books (note that their Fall Sale will be Sept. 28-Oct. 1, and everything in the store will be 35% off — I encourage everyone in the area to take advantage of it); I was thrilled to learn from their website that “Grey Matter is now the proud owner of the remains of that legendary fishing destination of the wise, Gotham Book Mart” (where I spent a substantial amount of time and money in the 1980s), and when I got there I headed straight for the tables devoted to material from Gotham. One of the items I grabbed (for a dollar!) was the Dec. 1936 issue of Contemporary Poetry and Prose, a short-lived periodical edited by Roger Roughton (who apparently committed suicide in 1941, and has left little trace online); it promised poems by St.-J. Perse and Paul Eluard, among others, and a short story by Isaac Babel. Imagine my surprise when I turned to the appropriate page and found “With Our Father Makhno/ An Episode of the Russian Civil War/ by ISAAC BABEL/ (Translated from the Russian by George Reavey)”… followed by a page and a half of blank space. Since among the Announcements (which are an enjoyable read in themselves: “The Notes on Contributors have already been discontinued for some time, as they were usually made up at the last moment and did not contain much information anyway”) was the severe “It is hoped that there will not again be the long list of mistakes which appears in this last year’s numbers,” I thought perhaps it was the mother of all typos, but when I got home Google Books found this editorial in the next issue, which cleared it all up:

                CENSORED !

On page 143 of CONTEMPORARY POETRY AND PROSE NO. 8 (Dec. 1936), there appeared, as announced, the heading of a short story, WITH OUR FATHER MAKHNO, by Isaac Babel, the famous soviet author. But alas, beneath the title and the translator’s name was an alarming, or ridiculous, blank. Two explanations, both somewhat unjust to the editor, were generally offered: one was simply that the text of the story was left out by mistake; the other was that it was just a 1920ish joke. Now there have been one or two rather odd mistakes in past numbers, due perhaps to the blue-eyed view of the paper taken by the stolid, peasant-like printers, but even they could not accept two blank pages without comment. As for the joke theory, Dadaism has never shown its anti-clockwise face in other numbers.

No, the text of Babel’s story had been quite consciously removed, not by order of the Lord Chamberlain or the editor, but by the printers. For perhaps many people do not know that most of the censorship in this country is carried out by the solicitors whom all large printers must keep; and this must be so, as long as the censorship laws are as violent, ignorant, unjust and immoral as they are now. Censorship is not a matter of commonsense; no layman can decide what is likely to meet with disfavour. In this case, after having previously ‘passed’ the story, the lawyer decided, when the whole edition was on the press and nearly due out, that WITH OUR FATHER MAKHNO was ‘doubtful’ and must be removed. There was no time to alter the cover announcement, the contents page or the index, and there was no suitable substitute piece of that length on hand. So the only thing to do was to leave the blank there, and hope that readers would recognise the innocence of the editor and the iniquity of the censorship laws — which very few did!

It goes on to give another example of infuriating censorship, and says “It is very doubtful whether moral censorship is defensible at all: although aimed against pornography, it seems to have had little success there, and otherwise the application of the law has been memorable chiefly for its abuse.” To which one can only heartily agree. It’s hard to remember in these loosey-goosey times what things were like for writers and publishers in the bad old days.

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