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Links 1 through 10 of 4145 Owen Blacker's Bookmarks

Whenever I tell people I study and teach Old English, they react by feeding me their favourite lines of Shakespeare, noting that it is very difficult indeed: “Is this a dagger I see before me? Alas, poor Yorick! Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?”. Indeed, as a little search on Twitter (see the image at the bottom of this post) indicates, the association between William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and Old English (ca 45o-1100) is a widespread myth that deserves to be busted. What better way to do so, than to imagine what it would look like if William Shakespeare HAD written Old English? This blog features my own very first translation of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets into Old English.

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It was the Vote Leavers’ worst nightmare. For years—no, decades—the anti-EU camp has suggested that Britain’s natural habitat is not among its continental neighbours but in “the Anglosphere”, that solar system of English-speaking planets which revolves around the United States. Break free from Brussels and we could embrace our kindred spirits in Sydney, Toronto and especially New York, Washington and Los Angeles. The Brexit camp has long been like the man who dreams of leaving his wife for another woman, one who really understands him. ¶
Obama is that other woman. And today he told the outers their fantasies were no more than that. … America likes the fact that Britain is already married: it works out really well for all three parties involved. His message was unambiguous. Don’t rush into a hasty divorce because you think we’re waiting for you with open arms. We’re not.

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I just learned something about you and it is blowing my goddamned mind.

Here it is: You can visualize things in your mind.

If I tell you to imagine a beach, you can picture the golden sand and turquoise waves. If I ask for a red triangle, your mind gets to drawing. And mom’s face? Of course.

You experience this differently, sure. Some of you see a photorealistic beach, others a shadowy cartoon. Some of you can make it up, others only “see” a beach they’ve visited. Some of you have to work harder to paint the canvas. Some of you can’t hang onto the canvas for long. But nearly all of you have a canvas.

I don’t. I have never visualized anything in my entire life. I can’t “see” my father’s face or a bouncing blue ball, my childhood bedroom or the run I went on ten minutes ago. I thought “counting sheep” was a metaphor. I’m 30 years old and I never knew a human could do any of this. And it is blowing my goddamned mind.

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Boris Johnson is a former editor of this newspaper, with the right to be treated with a courtesy Spectator journalists do not normally extend to politicians who don’t enjoy his advantages.

I therefore write with caution & deference when I say that Johnson showed that he’s a man without principle or shame. He’s a braying charlatan, lacking courage even to be an honest bastard—there is a kind of bastardly integrity in showing the world who you really are—but instead uses tactics of the coward and tricks of the fraudster to advance his worthless career.
¶¶
I’m not someone who throws accusations of racism around—it’s too serious a charge to devalue. But the fantasy that Obama is the heir of the Mau-Maus with no right to govern is a racist lie appealing to deep, dark traditions in the US. From slavery, Civil War, backlash against Reconstruction, Jim Crow, the argument has been the same: blacks have no right to vote, black politicians have no right to rule.

Johnson perpetuates the fraud.

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You shudder at a split infinitive, know when to use 'that' or 'which' and would never confuse 'less' with 'fewer' – but are these rules always right, elegant or sensible, asks linguist Steven Pinker

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Wild horses could not make me do so now. Zac Goldsmith campaign for mayor has become the most repulsive I have ever seen as a political reporter. ¶ Only two other campaigns bear comparison, both before my time. One was the infamous Bermondsey by-election of 1983 when the Labour candidate Peter Tatchell was targeted on account of his homosexuality. "Which Queen will you vote for?" asked an anonymous leaflet sent round the constituency in the final week of the campaign. ¶ The other was the Smethwick campaign in the 1964 General Election. Peter Griffiths stood as the Conservative candidate against the shadow foreign secretary Patrick Gordon-Walker. Griffiths used the campaign to make a statement about immigration. "If you want a nigger for a neighbor, vote Labour" was the Tory slogan.

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Under a new scheme, reported in Times Higher Education, university staff will be required to report their whereabouts ‘when officially at work, but not in their normal place of work’. The provisions, originally meant to apply only to staff from outside the EU, have been extended to all 13,000 employees, in an effort to ensure they are applied in a ‘fair and proportionate’ manner. One staff member told THE that he was disappointed the reporting policy would ‘even apply when staff are visiting different parts of the university campus, such as the library or a colleague’s office’. ¶ At first glance, this bizarre plan sounds like the brainchild of the sort of petty bureaucrats and form-fillers who have colonised modern academic life. But, in fact, this is the work of the UK Home Office. Under the conditions of Tier 2 and Tier 5 working visas, universities are required to put in place reporting mechanisms to monitor non-EU staff. Though the university’s decision to roll out this scheme to all staff was unique – the invasiveness of these restrictions was not.

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Only when Cummings was certain he had got the backs up of everyone in the room, did he eventually slump into his seat like a moody adolescent. Cummings had a reputation to maintain. He hadn’t yet found anyone he couldn’t pick a fight with—any mirror would do—and he didn’t intend to start now. ¶ “Can we talk about some of Vote Leave’s figures?” said Tyrie, once Cummings was finally in place. ¶ As it happened, we couldn’t. We could talk about why the EU was the most corrupt organisation on Earth, we could talk about why Boris Johnson and Michael Gove weren’t actually members of the establishment, we could talk about why everyone in the Treasury and the Bank of England were complete morons, we could talk about all sort of secret threats that secret people were making about secret things that he would have to keep secret, but talking figures wasn’t on the table.

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It’s called copula deletion or zero copula. Many languages and dialects, including Ancient Greek and Russian, delete the copula (the verb to be) when the context is obvious. So “you a bitch” in AAVE is not an example of a misused you, but an example of a sentence that deletes the copular verb (are), a perfectly valid thing to do in that dialect.

What’s more, it’s been shown that copula deletion occurs in AAVE exactly in those contexts where copula contraction occurs in “Standard American English.” That is, the basic sentence “You are great” can become “You’re great” in SAE and “You great” in AAVE, but “I know who you are” cannot become “I know who you’re” in SAE and neither can you get “I know who you” in AAVE. In other words, AAVE is a set of grammatical rules just as complex and systematic as SAE and the widespread belief that it is not is nothing more than yet another manifestation of deeply internalized racism.

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Death tallies compiled by the facility claimed 513 people died between 1975 and 1986; the real toll was almost certainly higher. Prosecutor Kim interviewed multiple inmates who said facility officials refused to send people to hospitals until they were nearly dead for fear of escape. ¶ "The facility was Park's kingdom, and violence was how he ruled," Kim said of the owner. "When you are confined to a place where people are getting beaten to death every day, you aren't likely to complain too much about forced labor, abuse or getting raped."

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