“A language is far more than a means of communication; it is the very condition of our humanity. Our values, our beliefs and our identity are embedded within it. It is through language that we transmit our experiences, our traditions and our knowledge. The diversity of languages reflects the incontestable wealth of our imaginations and ways of life.” So explained UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay three years ago on February 21: International Mother Language Day.
What follows is a brief history of the UNESCO international day that was inaugurated in 1952 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.
It’s National Talk Like Shakespeare Day!* Please teachest me to speaketh like Shakespeare, I heareth thee cry. You probably do already: if you say things like “send him packing”, “as good luck would have it”, “more fool you”, “neither here nor there”, “mum’s the word”, or “the be-all and end-all”, then you’re doing pretty well in the Shakespearean language department: he was responsible for either coining or popularizing all those phrases. Anyway, has’t no fear: Glossophilia cometh to the rescue, and we’re about to guide you through your online toolkit of Shakespearean-speak gadgets. Among Glossophilia’s favorites is Shmoop’s own Shakespearean Translator, which is just like Google Translate: Type anything into the box and “see it translated into super-authentic Shakespearean English”. Then there’s the Shakespeare Insult Kit, whose author Jerry Maguire (sic) was or is an English teacher at Center Grove High School in Greenwood Indiana. You’ll sound like a true Shakespearean villain when you hurl those concoctions out there. Another Glosso favorite is Shakespeare’s Words Thesaurus: “This is the opposite of the Glossary. When consulting the Glossary, you know the word and you want to find out what it means. When consulting the Thesaurus, you know the meaning and you want to find out which Shakespearean words express it. How would he say ‘arrogant’ or ‘companion’?'” Did you know that there’s a William Shakespeare Glossary on CliffNotes? And one on SparkNotes too? There’s a plethora of Shakespeare glossaries and dictionaries out there — and I mean plethora in its truest sense – to help you on your talk-like-Shakespeare quest. Here are just some of them … Continue reading →
This is an unusually personal and serious post for Glossophilia, but I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it takes to be a good editor. Over the past year or so I’ve been editing my late father’s diaries, as well as discussing with my family the words that will mark his gravestone. Both experiences — especially in such an emotionally-laden context — have made me reflect more on what a delicate and important process the editor’s job is. As a professional editor of nearly 35 years, in a world that’s driving this particular role/profession towards sure and imminent extinction, I’m aware of and keen to expound the value an editor brings to our world of communication. It’s a complex job that goes far beyond just the nuts and bolts of linguistic proficiency. Here’s my take on it.
“I am allergic to those words. We have fallen into the culture of adjectives and adverbs, and we have forgotten the strength of nouns.” So proclaimed Pope Francis in a rant against descriptive words during a speech on Monday. (Sic)
“The Baqdadi Goldsmith” by Kamal-ol-molk / Wikimedia Commons
I’m reading a guidebook about Ethiopia (preparing for a trip there later in the year), and I’ve just stumbled on this really interesting piece by John Grinling called “Wax and gold in goldsmithery and Amharigna.” It’s a good read for anyone interested in words and language, and perhaps helps explain why I love Ethiopian culture.Continue reading →
My English friend Fleur recently told me in an email that she wasn’t going to an event because “it really isn’t my pigeon.” I’ve never heard this little avian saying before, and since Glosso has recently posted a piece about expressions using animal (ahem) parts, I was immediately intrigued … Continue reading →