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Articles tagged "Linguistics"

The Sound Words Have

Once there was a town where no two people spoke the same language. No one used the same words for anything. And yet everyone understood everyone else and they all lived together in peace and harmony. Until recently, the locals were cheerful, cordial, and— though it’s hard to believe—talkative. The town was in a nameless region deep in central Europe. The place had no name because it was so remote that it was usually represented on maps as a black hole. That is, if it was...

Translations on the Market

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, where thousands of publishers from around the world annually squeeze inside huge exhibition halls to buy and sell foreign rights, a typical booth contains several tiny tables at which agents and editors cut their deals. Stopping to peruse what books are on offer, you wouldn't have to strain to get wind of potential translations into some language or other. I recently attended the event and overheard a conversation that was startling and not a little...

Me and My Circumstance

Ortega y Gasset famously defined the individual by saying "Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia" (I am I and what's around me). Although I may have said that I sort of backed into translation without having thought about it or having set my sights on it, I do have within me certain ingredients, innate or circumstantial, that could be said to have tilted me in that direction. Many far-flung genes have come to rest in my being, given the fact that my grandparents were born in four different...

Co ecos Astri:  Xul Solar of Buenos Aires

Xul said of himself: "I am maestro of a writing no one reads yet" and "I am world champion of a game no one knows." But Jorge Luis Borges, who was influenced by him, said: "Xul took on the task of reforming the universe, of proposing on this earth a different order. For that, among other things, he changed the current numerical system of mathematics to use a duodecimal system, with which he painted his watercolors." But Xul remained a secret. I remember hearing about him in the 1960s, but...

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