Language

Category archives for Language

My wife just returned from Beijing where she’s been collecting interviews for a TV project. And I find that her beauty is not luxurious imagination.

Bellman’s Pale Rhenish

Dear Reader, please try saying “ENSKTBLEH”. Yes, six consonants in a row. ENSKTBLEH. OK? Now sing it, loudly and happily. Go! I’ve spent three happy days at the first ever Picture Stone Symposium in Visby, listening to papers, moderating some bits and giving a presentation of my own that went down pretty well. And one…

By the Great Pharaoh

When annoyed, my dad (born in ’43) will sometimes use a pretty awesome expletive that has largely fallen out of fashion. Men då får han väl se till och ordna det då, för höge farao! “So he’d better make sure to get it done then, by the Great Pharaoh!” This expression belongs to a common…

My wife’s from Zhejiang province, and so is this can of pickled cabbage that she bought yesterday. I like the label a lot. It’s not quite Engrish: of course, we would say “people’s mess hall”, but the Chinese characters actually denote an extremely basic canteen-like eatery. A mess hall, a canteen, maybe a refectory; very…

With the Theme of Engrish

Fecal sample submission window.

Restaurant Engrish

“Lie Fallow” means “in your spare time, without a prior appointment” in Engrish. Everybody loves Engrish, the surreal dialect of English found on signs, in menus, on clothing etc. in the Far East. Much of it seems to stem from blind over-use of dictionaries, where the non-Anglophone user picks one of the possible translations of…

Do Our Heroes

What Makes High Elves High?

One of the stranger concepts in Tolkien’s writings is that of “High Elves”. Why are these elves high? It has nothing to do with drugs, though in the Tolkien Society we used to joke about them smoking lembas. And it has nothing to do with stature, though nobility and body height go together in Tolkien,…

I’m a picky reader when it comes to entertainment, and if I don’t like the first 50 pages of a novel I rarely continue. The most recent casualty of this policy is a book I was very kindly given by Birger Johansson, Rob Thurman’s The Grimrose Path (2010). Its a modern urban fantasy with angels…

Five Mountain Names

Mount Everest: named after Colonel Sir George Everest (1790-1866), British Surveyor General of India. K2: an early land-surveyor’s shorthand notation, used because nobody lived near enough to the mountain for it to have a local name. Himmelbjerget: “Mount Heaven”, 147 meters above sea level. Denmark’s highest point is in fact Møllehøj, “Windmill Barrow”, at 171…