Tag Archives: language

Effing this, effing that

24 Mar

My friend Alexandre pointed me to an article by Uncle Bob, There are ladies present, in which I had a language-related epiphany:

[…] there was an f-bomb in every sentence. It was effing this and effing that and what the ef here and there and everywhere. […]

Until that time, it had never occurred to me that the adjective ‘effing’ took its origin from the f-word, ‘fucking’. But now that I do, it makes sense completely.

I may even use it, now that I understand –and own it, in a way. That will add an extra middle-strength layer to how I convey a feeling or state of mind, still keeping the f-word as last resort.

By the way, Uncle Bob’s article is one that I recommend; he shares how women in tech have thus far lived in perpetual inconsequence, mostly having no status, no respect, and no voice in their world.

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lorem ipsum

16 Dec
Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit…
“There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain…”

Until recently, I thought ‘lorem ipsum’ was a meaningless series of random latin words. It is partially true. The words come from Cicero’s “de finibus bonorum et malorum” (the extremes of good and evil), a treatise he wrote in 45 BC.

It is not meant to be readable, as in contemporary times, it is commonly used as filler text when a graphic designer dummies up a page layout, a typeface, or elements of design. And it appears to have originated in the printing trade in the 1500’s.

So, I’m glad I looked that up, that’s one less mystery. But another reason I’m glad I did, is that I found a pretty quote, one that happens to be timely, as I’m on vacation just now for a couple week:

But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.

Now, here are, thanks to wikipedia, the full parts of the treatise, from which the ‘lorem ipsum‘ filler text comes from.

The original version (with the excerpted items highlighted) appears in Book 1, sections 1.10.32–3:

[32] Sed ut perspiciatis, unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam eaque ipsa, quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt, explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem, quia voluptas sit, aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos, qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt, neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum, quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci[ng] velit, sed quia non numquam [do] eius modi tempora inci[di]dunt, ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem. Ut enim ad minima veniam, quis nostrum exercitationem ullam corporis suscipit laboriosam, nisi ut aliquid ex ea commodi consequatur? Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit, qui in ea voluptate velit esse, quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum, qui dolorem eum fugiat, quo voluptas nulla pariatur?
[33] At vero eos et accusamus et iusto odio dignissimos ducimus, qui blanditiis praesentium voluptatum deleniti atque corrupti, quos dolores et quas molestias excepturi sint, obcaecati cupiditate non provident, similique sunt in culpa, qui officia deserunt mollitia animi, id est laborum et dolorum fuga. Et harum quidem rerum facilis est et expedita distinctio. Nam libero tempore, cum soluta nobis est eligendi optio, cumque nihil impedit, quo minus id, quod maxime placeat, facere possimus, omnis voluptas assumenda est, omnis dolor repellendus. Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet, ut et voluptates repudiandae sint et molestiae non recusandae. Itaque earum rerum hic tenetur a sapiente delectus, ut aut reiciendis voluptatibus maiores alias consequatur aut perferendis doloribus asperiores repellat…

H. Rackham’s 1914 translation (with major source of Lorem Ipsum highlighted):

[32] But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself, because it is pleasure, but because those who do not know how to pursue pleasure rationally encounter consequences that are extremely painful. Nor again is there anyone who loves or pursues or desires to obtain pain of itself, because it is pain, but occasionally circumstances occur in which toil and pain can procure him some great pleasure. To take a trivial example, which of us ever undertakes laborious physical exercise, except to obtain some advantage from it? But who has any right to find fault with a man who chooses to enjoy a pleasure that has no annoying consequences, or one who avoids a pain that produces no resultant pleasure?
[33] On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorem_ipsum

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

7 Aug
Front cover of the book

Front cover of the book


I’ve just read Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a book of 1884 which is set somewhere along the Mississippi River in the mid 1830s and tells the story of escape and freedom of Huckleberry, a white teenager and Jim a black grown-up runaway slave.I have thoroughly enjoyed reading that book. It took me a while to get used to the English old-fashioned vocabulary and grammar, as well as the language used by the slave Jim.

It was a surprise when I reached the end. Having read the five adventures, I would have gladly read some more.

Here are a few quotes and excerpts from the book that I found striking, amusing, or interesting.

About superstition, after Huck inadvertently killed a spider:

I got up and turned around in my tracks three times and crossed my breast every time; and then I tied up a little lock of my hair with a thread to keep the witches away. But I hadn’t no confidence. You do that when you’ve lost a horseshoe that you’ve found, instead of nailing it up over the door, but I hadn’t ever heard anybody say it was any way to keep off bad luck when you’d killed a spider.

About itching, as Huck had to remain immobile:

If you are with the quality, or at a funeral, or trying to go to sleep when you ain’t sleepy–if you are anywheres where it won’t do for you to scratch, why you will itch all over in upwards of a thousand places.

About Stockholm Syndrome, discussion among Tom Sawyer’s self-proclaimed gang, who plot to carry out adventurous crimes:

Kill the women? No — nobody ever saw anything in the books like that. You fetch them to the cave, and you’re always as polite as pie to them; and by and by they fall in love with you, and never want to go home any more.

Huck tells the truth about Mathematics, the truth, only the truth:

I had been to school most all the time and could spell and read just a little, and could say the multiplication table up to six times seven is thirty-five, and I don’t reckon I could ever get any further than that if I was to live forever. I don’t take no stock in mathematics, anyway.

Long but exquisite passage. Conversation between Huck and Jim about the language of the French:

“Why, Huck, doan’ de French people talk de same way we does?”
“No, Jim; you couldn’t understand a word they said–not a single word.”
“Well, now I be ding-busted! How do dat come?”
“I don’t know; but it’s so. I got some of their jabber out of a book. S’pose a man was to come to you and say Polly-voo-franzy–what would you think?”
“I wouldn’t think nuff’n; I’d take en bust him over de head–dat is, if he weren’t white. I wouldn’t ‘low no nigger to call me dat.”
“Shucks, it ain’t calling you anything. It’s only saying, do you know how to talk French?”
“Well, den why couldn’t he say it?”
“Why, he is a-saying it. That’s a Frenchman’s way of saying it.”
“Well, it’s a blame ridiculous way, en I doan’ want to hear no mo’ ’bout it. Dey ain’ no sense in it.”
“Looky here, Jim; does a cat talk like we do?”
“No, a cat don’t.”
“Well, does a cow?”
“No, a cow don’t, nuther.”
“Does a cat talk like a cow, or a cow talk like a cat?”
“No, dye don’t.”
“It’s natural and right for ’em to talk different from each other, ain’t it?”
“‘Course.”
“And ain’t it natural and right for a cat and a cow to talk different from us?”
“Why, mos’ sholy it is.”
“Well, then, why ain’t it natural and for a Frenchman to talk different from us? You answer me that.”
“Is a cat a man, Huck?”
“No.”
“Well, den, dye ain’t no sense in a cat talkin’ like a man. Is a cow a man?–er is a cow a cat?”
“No, she ain’t got no business to talk either one er the yuther of ’em. Is a Frenchman a man?”
“Yes.”
“Well, den! Dad blame it, why doan’ he talk like a man? You answer me dat!”
I see it warn’t no use wasting words–you can’t learn a nigger to argue. So I quit.

Considerations from Huck and Jim when they’re star gazing:

We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn’t say nothing against it, because I’ve seen a frog lay most as many, so of course if could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they’d got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.

When the King and the Duke rehearse properly the Balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet:

[…] after a while he said he done it pretty well; “only,” he says, “you mustn’t bellow out Romeo! that way, like a bull–you must say it soft and sick and languishy, so–R-o-o-meo! that is the idea; for Juliet’s a dear sweet mere child of a girl, you know, and she doesn’t bray like a jackass.”

About the ignominy of people thinking Black people were sub-humans. Huck explains to Aunt Sally what delayed his steamboat:

“It warn’t the grounding–that didn’t keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder-head.”
“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a nigger.”
“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt. […]

Associations mots / images

24 Jul
En passant devant un cordonnier ce matin, je me suis rappelé qu’étant petite, j’associais l’image d’un cordonnier qui rafistolait des chaussures au mot “coordonnées”. D’ailleurs, je croyais que le métier c’était “coordonnier”, et lorsque ma mère parlait de “donner ses coordonnées”, je ne voyais vraiment pas le rapport.

Je me souviens d’une autre association rigolotte datant de la même époque, peu ou prou. C’était lorsque mon père courait après mon frère et moi, en nous menaçant d’une raclée, l’image que j’avais en tête était celle du papa courant en cercle derrière ses enfants, une clé démesurée a la main. Ça m’amusait au moins autant que ça nous amusait de faire courir mon père, qui lui aussi s’amusait à nous courir après. (Avertissement: La raclée n’était qu’un pretexte au jeu, pas une menace réelle.)