Friday, July 9, 2010

Convenient acronym?

Found in a recently-published collection of personal narratives from the Napoleonic Wars...
Apparently the vernacular name for the city of Vienna ("Wien") doubled as a mantra of resistance for residents of the occupied city.
"Was Ist das Ende Napoleons?
Wien Ist das Ende Napoleons."
(Translation: "What is the end of Napoleon? Vienna is the end of Napoleon!")

Quite similar to how Giuseppe Verdi's name was co-opted during Italian unification. According to the historical claim, the slogan "Viva VERDI" stood for "Viva Vittorio Emanuele Re D'Italia" ("Long live Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy").

Monday, April 27, 2009

Funny English loan phrase of the day

From the preface of a German monograph:

"Last, not least danke ich all jenen, die das Geschehen aus der Ferne verfolgt haben und gerade deshalb besonders nahe waren." (italics the author's). Roughly (very roughly) translated: "...I thank all those whose efforts from afar have had a very close effect."

Written rhetoric worthy of a banquet speech, no? And it's made all the more quaint by the absence of the "but" in "Last, but not least."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Funny English loan word of the day

Found on the back cover of a French imprint: "NRJ est la success-story la plus méconnue du capitalisme français." NRJ is here characterized as a business enterprise which has been neglected in the annals of French capitalism.

I guess metaphorically equating a person or entity with an account of their success is not something the French wish to do using their own language. Come to think of it, it's a rather awkward construction in English anyway.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bibliographic recursion?

In my ongoing effort to become more well versed in information science outside of my immediate discipline, I have recently been reading about programming languages and their underlying concepts. One of these is recursion, which allows for formulas, functions, etc. to be referenced within their own definitions. In art, recursion happens when, say, a room depicted in a painting has a painting on the wall of the room. In informal logic, this is analogous to "begging the question", but that's another story...

I observed bibliographic recursion today as I was poring over a book I was cataloging. I noticed that the table of contents included the page number for the table of contents. Perhaps this is common in books, but today it gave me pause, and I'm immediately of two minds about it. On the one hand, what purpose does it serve to tell the reader where to locate the page s/he is already looking at? On the other hand, the table of contents can also be seen as a representative summary of the contents of a resource; in this light, it is perfectly appropriate.

One can also imagine a more egregious example of bibliographic recursion. Now, authors often cite themselves, usually from previous works they have written (composers do this too, when they recycle melodies, arias, etc.). But imagine, if you will, a bibliography of bibliographies (they exist, I promise), in which a citation for the bibliography in hand is included. I'm almost tempted to research this to see if it has occured... Almost.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Funny English loan word of the day

Found on the back cover of a Bolivian imprint: "No pretendemos, que este libro sea un bestseller" (roughly translated: "no joke, this book is a bestseller!").

Cute, with a soupçon of arrogance. One wonders if all they are borrowing is the word.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What's in a name?

Interesting book of the day:

Des hommes à l'origine de l'Europe: Biographies des membres de la Haute Autorité de la CECA. by Mauve Carbonell.

Hmmm... Ms. Carbonell, writing about the members of the European Coal and Steel Community. Notice the french word for coal is "charbon" (literally translated: carbon).

Some people are destined to certain career paths, it would seem...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The junkie lives!!

Dear reader(s),

After months of much eventfulness, I have at long last decided to start blogging again. What inspired me today was a chart I found, while stumbling, which shows graphically how cousin terminology operates. This was a serendipitous find, as I have often found myself biting me tongue in order to avoid correcting people who misuse the term "second cousin." (Now, to be honest, I had misused this term until a few years ago.) Essentially, what most people think of as a "second cousin" (the child of one's first cousin) is really a "first cousin once removed." A second cousin is, in fact, someone with whom one shares a great-grandparent (or think of it this way: the child of one's parent's cousin). As the chart shows, each higher ordinal number (third, fourth, etc.) denotes another generation one must traverse to find the common grandparent.

My hypothesis as to why most people get this terminology confused is that few regularly associate with (let alone even know) the people with whom they share a great-grandparent. One is much more likely to know one's first cousin's children; or maybe the label "second cousin" just rolls off the tongue more readily, I suppose.

Does your brain hurt yet? Take comfort in the fact that you now know how to properly identify your distant relatives!! And this is a crucial, everyday skill, no?

Geekily yours,