Monday, May 03, 2010

cool things I found while catching up on my Google reader

(If you follow me on Twitter, you might have already seen some of these)

Got sucked into any good books lately? A couple visuals to make your day.
(via The Undomestic)

NYT on the (re)new(ed) movement to document rare and endangered languages. Lingistic enthusiasts, you'll love this--who knew there may be as many as 800 languages spoken in New York, including languages that are no longer spoken anywhere else in the world? (via Ellen W)

The 100 best Arabic books (in English), according to the Arab Writers Union. I'm 0 for 100. Clearly this is a language whose translations I need to explore more. (via Lit Saloon)

Booklist's Bill Ott talks about the mysteries he recommends to people who say they hate mysteries. I personally recommend Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon, especially to fans of sci fi and/or literary fiction. What would your answer(s) be? (I'm particularly interested in the genre bias here--there are great mysteries in every genre.)

Finally, my dad sent me this website: Demotivators. What can I say. Mission accomplished.


Clara said...

Google Reader feeds my brain.
Yay first comment!
Cheers =)

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Well, now I'm entertained. :) I always have to goof off and look at random things before I get down to daily work, and this was an excellent way to start. I loved those pictures from the first link. :) Thank you for posting these!

JES said...

Mysteries for the non-mysteriously inclined: Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crimes series, in which Detective Inspector Jack Spratt investigates crimes against the citizens of Reading. Two books so far, The Big Over Easy (what REALLY happened to Humpty Dumpty?) and The Fourth Bear (gee, what could THAT be about). If it all sounds gimmicky and a little... well... precious, that's because you don't know how clever and what a good writer JF can be.

A summary of TBOE, from Fforde's own site: "'It looks like he died from injuries sustained during a fall...' Bestselling author Jasper Fforde begins an effervescent new series. It's Easter in Reading -- a bad time for eggs -- and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Following the pathologist's careful reconstruction of Humpty's shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody. As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack's Lime Green Austin Allegro, the clues pile up, but Jack has his own problems to deal with. And on top of everything else, the JellyMan is coming to town..."

You definitely don't have to like mysteries. But if you've got no sense of humor (especially for wordplay), you should keep looking.

Emily Cross said...

I knew Irish would be on the list!

Thanks for the recommendation, I bought the book for my mother for mother's day and she's converted :)

Rick Daley said...

Demotivators rule. I have a desktop Demotivator. The picture is of french fries, and it says:


Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

I'm (slowly) reading a book called SPOKEN HERE: TRAVELS AMONG THREATENED LANGUAGES. So interesting (and sad) to see the culture and identity that slip away as a result of language loss.

Simon Hay Soul Healer said...

The languages story is fascinating. Thanks.

Marcia said...

0 for 100? But I haven't (quite) finished the list. Maybe you've read something in the last 10...

Recommendations from the top 10:

You probably can't go wrong with No. 1, Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy.

Sonallah Ibrahim's /Honor/ isn't in English, but his /Stealth/ just came out from Aflame, in excellent translation.

/Men in the Sun/ and /War in the Land of Egypt/, both good reads.

Also on the list and widely enjoyable:

*Hanan al-Shaykh

*Bahaa Taher (although I suggest his /Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery/ instead)

*Tayeb Salih's /Season of Migration to the North/

*Elias Khoury's /Gate of the Sun/ (or his /White Masks/, which just came out this month, in lovely translation from Ms. Maia Tabet)

*The Hostage, by Yemeni novelist Zayd Mutee Dammaj

*The Call of the Curlew, by Taha Hussein, but the translation isn't good.

*Bensalem Himmich, but his /The Polymath/ instead of /The Theocrat/.

Charles Gramlich said...

If the Koran counts as an Arabic book then I read that.

_*rachel*_ said...

I forwarded the linguistics article to a linguist--thanks! It's about as fascinating as nonfiction gets.

I'm 0/100, too, but I have a new goal: to beat you and read at least one of those books--in arabic. Hoo yeah.

Nikki said...

Oh no. WHY did you post demotivators?? Now I'll never get my work done ... sigh. On the plus side, I think I'll pick a new company slogan. I'm a fan of

None of us is as dumb as all of us.

JEM said...

When you say "endangered languages" I think of some kind of farm where these languages wander around, safe from poachers.

Emily said...

As a former linguistics major and current ling-geek, I totally went ahead and e-mailed the Endangered Language Alliance (people in the article) to see if they needed volunteers.

And they do! Or will. I was told they're going to have a meeting in the beginning of June, so if anyone else is similarly inclined to give their time to that project, they should totally get in contact with them: :)

Anonymous said...

Demotivators=glee! At least for me. Because I work at one of those retail outlets that puts a motivational poster EVERY FIVE FEET in the breakroom. And bathroom. And conference room. 's demotivator section has a couple of funnier ones, IMHO. No trip through depression is ever complete without "Overconfidence" and "Bear Cavalry"

Well, in general is pretty much awesome. Whoever does the kludge section lived through my childhood.

pacatrue said...

As a linguist, I'd like to add that there are frequently interesting languages or language dialects around you that you aren't noticing. "You" being the generic you. One way to support them is to resist monolingual drives. Yes, there is a valid reason for all of "us" to be able to communicate, but the majority of the world is bilingual and we can be too. You may donate resources. If you hear of a linguistically-related cultural activity, you can take the time to go watch and leave $5 in a box somewhere. Sometimes there are community centers that could use something as simple as markers to allow a child speaker of the language to draw and tell a story. These little things add up.