June 17th, 2008
June 3rd, 2008
You can find the rest at http://xkcd.com/ "A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language"
"Warning: this comic occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)."
That's not me saying it, that's the author :)
June 2nd, 2008
May 17th, 2008
I haven't written here for ages, and I think it's about time I post the second chapter I promised ages ago.
It hasn't been betaed yet, because my faithful partner in crime, r_fluffy, is kind of busy at the moment (as usual). If anyone notices obvious problems with the text as it is, I'll be grateful for their comments.
October 20th, 2007
As a student of Old English literature, I’ve always been struck by the fact there is always at least one scholar to invoke irony for every single piece of poetry that does not make immediate sense to the modern reader.
This reflex, it seems to me, would be fairly reasonable when confronted with a literature that does make a great use of irony (e.g. 18th c. French literature). On the other hand, it seems a bit off when dealing with a literary tradition which, as a whole, is not very big on irony.
I was recently working on something quite different from Old English, but suspicions of irony crept up again in the most unexpected fashion, which led me to write this note.
I am currently working on a translation of an extract from The Devil’s Advocate, by Morris West and one particular sentence is puzzling me:
“Nerone threw back his head and laughed as heartily as if it were a washerwoman’s joke down by the torrent.”
What puzzles me in this sentence is the expression “washerwoman’s joke.”
The genitive seems to imply a rather strong link between washerwoman and joke, as if that link was already known from the text itself or from common cultural knowledge (e.g. “my neighbour’s cat” suggests the reader already knows about this particular cat vs. “the cat of my neighbour” implies no such thing).
Here, washerwomen as such have nothing to do with the plot.
Clearly it is an image and the substance of the comparison seems to be that washerwomen tell good jokes and Nerone is reacting precisely as if he had just heard one such good joke, whereas we know from the text he just heard a dire warning and shouldn’t be laughing.
The puzzling thing for me is that the text seems to assume it is common knowledge washerwomen tell good jokes, which was new to me.
I asked two friends about it, one native speaker of English and one French girl with an extensive literary culture and both found irony, though not in the same place.
The French found irony in the name Nerone, allusion to the famous emperor who set fire to
The American found irony in the hearty laugh, assuming Nerone was not really laughing so much and that the allusion to the torrent meant you couldn’t even hear the joke and would thus merely fake a polite laugh and pretend you got it.
Admittedly, neither had the context of the whole passage (let alone the whole book!), so it was easier for them to read irony where there is none.
Still I found that puzzling, that when in doubt about the meaning of a passage, people tend to jump to the conclusion it must be ironic somehow.
I have no hypothesis regarding the source of that puzzling phenomenon, but would welcome
a) knowledge about the image of washerwomen in literature and the arts ;)
b) views or anecdotes about that tendency to assume irony when faced with something not immediately understandable.
September 9th, 2007
As I had promised long ago, here is the review for one of my favourite fanfics, one which has many elements in common with Trouble in Paradise, by AngieJ, although romance plays no important part in it.
August 3rd, 2007
July has been a very busy month, sorry for not writing more... and I’m not sure August will be any better. Not only have I not finished writing the second chapter of Better Than Expected, I’ve actually barely started reading the Deathly Hallows yet.
I know, I’m a bad person.
Before leaving my homecountry again, this time for the States, I thought I would give you a small Icelandic present.
First of all I bought Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Icelandic (Harry Potter og viskusteinninn) so I could try to practice a bit (given my command of Icelandic this is way too ambitious, but then again I know the book practically by heart in English so I can probably guess my way through the Icelandic version), so here is the very beginning :
« Dursleyhjónin á Runnaflöt númer fjögur hreyktu sér gjarnan af því að vera sérdeilis og algerlega eðlilegt fólk. Engan hefði grunað að þau væru flækt í eitthvað skrítið eða dularfullt, því svoleiðis vitleysu kærðu þau sig ekki um. »
« Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense. »
I love it in English and I think it’s great in Icelandic too.
Also, and this is a special dedication for r_fluffy, I was perusing old books in Kolaportið, Reykjavík’s flea market, and I saw Hroki og hleypidómar, aka Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.
I know r_fluffy loves the book and that she particularly loves the very first sentence :
« It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. »
So I just had to copy it down in Icelandic, here it is :
« Það er kunnara en frá þurfi að segja að piparsvein í góðum efnum hlýtur að vanta eiginkonu. »
And that’s all I have to say for now, really.
July 13th, 2007
I’m sorry, I haven’t written anything here for a couple of weeks, but for once I have a great excuse, so I’m not feeling guilty at all, yeah! :-D
I’m currently in Iceland, desperately trying to learn Icelandic, which happens to be quite tough, so I don’t have that much time to write: I’m way too busy learning declensions, swimming in naturally hot water and hiking lovely mountains to spend a lot of time on the internet.
Anyway, I thought the time was appropriate for a little explanation about my name here, elskuligr.
Elskuligr is a word in Old Norse (or Old Icelandic, that is the language which was spoken in Scandinavia and parts of Britain during the Middle Ages). Its modern equivalent is elskulegur.
Both elskuligr and elskulegur mean “affectionate”, “loving”, “friendly” or “beloved”, “dear.”
It is an adjective derived from the word elska, which can be either a noun or a verb and means “love”.
Elskuligr is the masculine singular form of the adjective, as in elskuligr maðr, “a loving or lovable person”.
From what I’ve been able to find out in an Icelandic Etymological dictionary, elska as such has no parallel in other Germanic languages and is probably derived by a form such as *aliska-R, meaning to be raised or to grow older with someone.
Some people also relate that word to elja or eljun, meaning "vigour" or "energy", but the connection is doubtful.
I hope you enjoy the clever explanation and I promise I have not abandoned my ficlet Better Than Expected. I’ll work on it some more as soon as I get the time!
Here is a small picture of Thingvellir, where the Assembly of Iceland (Althing) used to meet to pass judgments and make laws in the medieval and modern periods.
Just to make you jealous ;-)
June 29th, 2007
I quite liked it, but I also found hilarious one of the comments, by dustthouart, saying:
“I like this but it's far too erudite and well-written to be from Harry. ^_^ His would be more likely to be some scribbed notation "I love you and don't be sad too long ok and I'm doing this for you PS DON'T KISS DEAN". Kidding. ^_^”
fpb protested that Harry would probably make a bit more of an effort than that if he thought it was his very last letter and I think he’s right.
I'd like to think that fpb's letter is probably what Ginny would deserve and that this is the sad sad reality (well apart from the fact it's probably too long to be realistic, but what can I say, I'm a talkative girl...).
June 24th, 2007
Dear old r_fluffyhas finally found the time to beta my first chapter for a fic called Better Than Expected, so here it is in exclusivity!
This is a rather darkish story set after the Death Eaters have been defeated by Harry Potter. When it all happened, Draco Malfoy expected he was about to go through rather difficult times, but as it turns out things are not going quite the way he would have thought...
Warning: some characters you might be fond of die in this fic.