“Every Day, Another Language Dies”

I have a variety of concerns and dubiousnesses about Heather Altfeld’s essay “Every Day, Another Language Dies,” published at Lit Hub in May. (Originally published in Conjunctions 70, under the title “Obituary for Dead Languages.”) But I nonetheless found it a poetically lovely and sad eulogy for languages lost and languages we’re losing, so I […]

Sensory metaphors

In a New York Times piece from 2015, Jonah Berger wrote about the longevity of sensory metaphors. An interesting piece, and an interesting idea. Fits nicely with stuff I’ve been reading about metaphors in Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By. I find the piece a little incomplete in its discussion of the word cool, […]

mokume-gane

According to Wikipedia: “Mokume-gane […] is a Japanese metalworking procedure which produces a mixed-metal laminate with distinctive layered patterns[…]. Mokume-gane translates […] to ‘wood grain metal’ [because metal so treated] takes on the appearance of natural wood grain.”

Game typo

Ars Technica reports: “A years-old, one-letter typo led to Aliens: Colonial Marines‘ weird AI.” I mention this for a couple of reasons: I’m amused that a typo can make such a big difference. Another reason the world needs editors! Or at least proofreaders. Or at least code that doesn’t necessarily silently discard unfamiliar words. (In […]

xenomorph

An Ars Technica article from 2014 explains that the word “xenomorph” in Aliens is a generic term and not a specific name for that specific species. Commenters point out that the exhaustively argued conclusion that the article comes to is exactly what they had assumed to be true from watching the movie. Nonetheless, I admire […]

Limerick myths

Recently tried to search for the origin of the following limerick: The limerick, peculiar to English Is a verse form that's hard to extinguish Once Congress in session Decreed its suppression But people got around it by writing the last line without any rhyme or meter. Which led me to a page of Limerick Myths, […]

bascule

According to my dictionary (MW11), a bascule is “an apparatus or structure (such as a drawbridge) in which one end is counterbalanced by the other.” Apparently it’s from a French word for seesaw.