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...