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Using italics for second-language words? September 8, 2014

Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
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What is your opinion about the use of italics for “foreign” words in fiction in general? How do you determine which words to italicize? To what degree it is a stylistic or political choice?”

The article there has a bunch of opinions from pro writers. Fic writers, what do you do?

Me, I’m thinking I’ll keep using italics, and there’s one reason carrying most of the weight: because on the Internet, not all your readers are going to have English as their first language, and ESL fluency levels will vary. If the second language coming up in the fic is one that they speak, great. But if it’s not, they might just end up lost.

Anecdote 1: One time I had on Radio Junior, a kids’ radio/streaming station that broadcasts primarily in French. My brother and I were both taking French in school at the time. The station changed songs, and he said, “You know, I was recognizing some of the words in that last song, but now I’m not getting anything at all.” The new song…was in Italian.

Anecdote 2: Another time I went to the wordreference.com forums seeking help with a word I couldn’t find in any dictionaries. Turned out it was a typo.

So it seems polite to signal “hey, don’t stress about not recognizing this phrase, or not being able to find it on your translation website of choice — it’s a different language from the main text, and there may even be a translation at the end of the chapter.”

Other fannish people, how do you handle this? Especially those of you who regularly read in a second language: what do you prefer?

Neat stuff. (Paralysis implants, a Bill Watterson art cameo, cool maps, language stuff, diamond planets.) August 27, 2014

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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“The Neurobridge technology combines algorithms that learn and decode the user’s brain activity and a high-definition muscle stimulation sleeve that translates neural impulses from the brain and transmits new signals to the paralyzed limb. In this case, Ian’s brain signals bypass his injured spinal cord and move his hand.

“Now if you had asked me the odds of Bill Watterson ever saying that line to me, I’d say it had about the same likelihood as Jimi Hendrix telling me he had a new guitar riff. And yes, I’m aware Hendrix is dead.” Pearls Before Swine gets the most awesome guest artist imaginable.

A globe laid out by Voronoi diagrams, where all the territorial lines are drawn based on which national capital the land is closest to. Overlaid on our world’s current borders, so you can check out the difference.

US language maps, based on Census Bureau data. Most commonly-spoken languages in all the states based on different parameters, starting with “other than English” and “other than English or Spanish.”

Constructive reduplication, found all over the world, from English to Finnish to Hungarian to the Bantu languages. (Or, the linguistic explanation for the difference between “salad” and “salad salad”.)

A bunch of awesome animals (as well as some terrifying lamprey pictures; be ready to scroll; they’re after the Tufted Deer). Teeny armadillos, skinny canids, deer with awesome horns and hind-legged stances, and what looks like a rabbit-capybara.

Python swallows a three-foot-long crocodile whole. Nature is awesome.

The most amazing of the 3500+ exoplanets we’ve discovered, including the diamond one, the burning-ice one, the one with a day-long year, and the incredibly dark one (lit by a sun, though).

Your writing in non-K words February 21, 2014

Posted by Erin Ptah in Miscellaneous, Night Vale.
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1) Visit Web VocabProfile Classic
2) Paste a selection of your writing (under 2K words) into the main text box; hit “Submit”
3) Scroll down the list of just the red words
4) Copy, paste, and share!

What it does is break down the writing based on how common the words are. The 1000 most-common words are in blue, the next-most-common 1000 in green, words from some Academic Word List they have on-file are in yellow, and everything else is in red.

(Hat tip to fail_fandomanon for finding this.)

Upcoming chapter of HDM/Night Vale fic

People’s names: carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos carlos cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil cecil gerald gerald gerald hua hua isaña isaña isaña isaña isaña kevin khoshekh li li raimondi raimondi raimondi

The rest of the words: alethiometer alethiometer alethiometer alpha armored awful blankness bluffs bluffs bluffs bluffs chameleon chin collaborate compass compass conditioner daemon dials dials dials disaster drug drug drugs empathy factly fantasies favors flush foul gazes genetic gosh gulping hell hint hispania horrible hourglass hourglass hovers hugs hybrid infamous infamy internet kidney lather madhouse marionette menacing mirror mockery monsters muscle nationals nods nova okay omega ouija overdosed personality protests putters reassuring rehab retrospect rinses serpent shivers sic simultaneous singlehandedly sluggishly smacks sociopath species specimen stares startles subtle surgery switches teasing territory theology theology transplant tub tucks twitches undercover unsubstantiated update vague vale valentine wren wren wrestles wretched

Beginning of a Hunger Games AU for Red Dwarf

People’s names: ace ace arn arn arnie arnold arnold arnold arnold arnold arnold arnold arnold arnold arnold dave dave dave dave dave dave dave dave frank gran gran gran howard howard john john john jr kochanski kochanski kochanski kris kris kris kris krissie krissie krissie krissie kristine kristine lister lister lister michelle rimmer rimmer rimmer rimmer rimmer rimmer rimmer

The rest of the words: ah aisle aptitude auburn awful awful banging bashing bid blanks bloke bother bounty breed capitol capitol capitol capitol chafing chumps circuit circuit circuitry classmates classmates co cocky cute daydreams dolls doomed drilled dubious dumb electronics electronics eligible figured figuring fisher folks foreman fumbles grove guitar guy haircuts headbutts height heroes hmm jerky kids kids kids kids kids mandatory math mic microphone microwaves mood numb ol olds orphan pacified panem peacekeeper peacekeeper peacekeepers pelted privilege quiz quizzes rack rack reaped reaping reaping reaping reaping rebellion repay romance saps scores senior shoo sirree smug specialty specialty spokesperson squish streamlined sucker swagger technician television television tesserae tesserae tesserae tesserae tesserae tiny tone tributes trucks uncertainly ups utterly vending vicious victors victors victors washtub yeah yeah

This is unreasonably entertaining.

(“Gosh gulping hell” would make a great creative interjection, and “victors victors victors washtub yeah” just sounds like it should be set to a beat.)

Dyslexia fonts, Native American names, irregular words preserved, DNA word preservation October 15, 2013

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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“Although Dyslexie is not the first font out there to help aid dyslexics, it has received much fanfare from sufferers thus far, including participants from the aforementioned University of Twente study, who commented that the font allowed them to read with improved accuracy, and for a longer time before tiring.

The locations that generate the most hateful tweets across the US, broken down by various slurs, mostly racist and homophobic.

“We get a lot of questions about the meaning of Native American names found on the Internet, so here is a list of many of them and what (if anything) they really mean.” Beautiful etymology research all over this page.

There are some old words, however, that are nearly obsolete, but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries.” My favorite: “wend” used to have the past tense of “went”, and its synonym “go” used to have the past tense of, basically, “goed”, and instead of dropping one regular verb but keeping the other, English created a totally irregular frankenverb by keeping half of each.

“A team of scientists has produced a truly concise anthology of verse by encoding all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets in DNA. The researchers say that their technique could easily be scaled up to store all of the data in the world.”

Related: “[This method should] be easily capable of swallowing the roughly 3 zettabytes (a zettabyte is one billion trillion or 10^21 bytes) of digital data thought presently to exist in the world and still have room for plenty more. It would do so with a density of around 2.2 petabytes (10^15) per gram; enough, in other words, to fit all the world’s digital information into the back of a lorry.

Five things make a post (tech support, TCR, and turduckens edition) September 2, 2013

Posted by Erin Ptah in Fake News, Miscellaneous, Personal.
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(1) I’m having the most aggravating computer trouble.

It freezes. Unpredictably. And in a way I’ve never seen on any other computer: the sound doesn’t cut out, it gets stuck endlessly repeating the last fraction of a second it was on. That means a different droning hum every time, depending on what song or video it was in the middle of when it locked up.

The machine is under warranty, and tech support has been trying their hardest, but it’s not doing much good. So far it’s had the hard drive, the memory, and the motherboard replaced. And something unrelated was botched during the motherboard replacement, so that’s going to be replaced again.

I’m trying to get in the habit of saving things (art, writing, whatever) every minute or two. It really sucks when I forget.

Tech support is still trying to come up with more things to try — here’s hoping one of them takes. Or that they decide to put the whole thing out of its misery and send me a replacement computer.

***

(2) Welcome to Night Vale is doing its best to yank my heart out, I swear.

I’ve been doing episode reaction posts over at Night Vale Dog Park, if you’re interested in hearing about the shock and love and fear and wonder in greater detail.

***

plant(3) I got a plant!

It sits on the cabinet next to where I work. Grows toward the light from the window. I get to watch it putting up new leaves in realtime. It’s a pretty good companion.

(Anyone know what species it is? It didn’t come with an ID.)

***

(4) My Firefox spellcheck didn’t recognize “turducken” as a word, so it suggested “turnbuckle” instead.

How do you get a dictionary that’s expansive enough to know “turnbuckle” is a word, but that’s never heard of turducken? It’s kind of a silly concept, sure, but it isn’t uncommon.

***

(5) So happy for Stephen and the Report staff, finally winning themselves an Emmy.

It still doesn’t make sense that they didn’t win the year they broadcast from Iraq. Or the year they did such amazing things with SuperPACs. This year was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t one of the years where they so clearly blew it out of the water in comparison to everyone else.

Honestly, I think the Academy just wanted to give TDS the glory of a ten-year streak. With a possible side of “oh, geez, we can’t snub Colbert this year, his mom just died.”

But even if they were awarded it for the wrong reasons, they did deserve it, and I’m glad they got it.

On languages: Light Warlpiri, Volapuk, chatspeak, dialects of English, and possibly Voynich July 31, 2013

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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“There are many dying languages in the world. But at least one has recently been born, created by children living in a remote village in northern Australia. Carmel O’Shannessy, a linguist at the University of Michigan, has been studying the young people’s speech for more than a decade and has concluded that they speak neither a dialect nor the mixture of languages called a creole, but a new language with unique grammatical rules. “

The Voynich manuscript: possibly not gibberish after all? New analyses find patterns that would show up in encoded language, but be hard to fake at random.

Before there was Esperanto, there was Volapük: “a universal language created in the late 19th century by a German priest called Johann Schleyer.” Its heyday of popularity has long passed, but there is still enough interest to create a Volapük Wikipedia with 100K+ articles.

Mapped data from US-wide dialect surveys. As a nation we are united by shopping carts, but divided by fireflies.

“Goodbye” is a derivative of 14th-century chatspeak. (God be with ye = Godbwye = Goodbye)

“5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think.”

Tell that the person who made it read well those strong things you feel January 23, 2013

Posted by Erin Ptah in Comedy.
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The Up-Goer Five Text Editor is addictive. (It spellchecks your text so that you can only use the thousand most-used words in the English language.)

Here’s Shelley’s Ozymandias:

I met a person who came from an old land
Who said: two big legs made of rock with no body
Stand in the hot dry place. Near them, on the ground,
Half under the land, a broken face lies. Its frown
And lip in a mean expression, and smirk of being cool and the strongest person,
Tell that the person who made it read well those strong things you feel
Which yet are still there, where you can see them on these things with no life,
Long after the hand that made fun of them, and the heart that drove them.
And on the rock under the legs these words appear:
“My name is ‘Ozymandias’, strongest of strong people.
Look on my works, you other strong people, and be sad!”
Nothing beside remains. Round what is left
Of that big broken thing, with no end and no other things on it,
The ground with no people that does not go up or down goes far away.

Science! & Nature! (feat. strong kitties, ancient flowers, fundamentalists, words and colors) September 4, 2012

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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You know, sometimes it feels like I take as long to organize these links into elegant topical groupings as I do to actually save the things…

Japanese cat weight lifting: grabbing progressively bigger fish and dragging them away! The winning cats end up waddling away, dragging these gigantic fish they can barely get their teeth around. It’s adorable.

Thirty-two-thousand-year-old flower recovered from the tundras of Siberia…and yes, they got it to bloom.

“Many of these schools [rely on textbooks that] teach their pupils Bible-based “facts,” such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn’t have to.

Elaborating on one of the specifics in that link: “What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory?” It’s pretty mind-boggling.

Atomic theory as expressed in English with all the non-Germanic words removed.

Cross-linguistic color theory! How languages develop color words and in what order, how language affects our ability to distinguish colors, and a massive XKCD-originated survey of color names.

32 innovations that will change your tomorrow: inventions set to come out within a few years that will affect your everyday life. Some seem stupid or gratuitous (hands-free hair-washing? Is it really that hard to shampoo?), but some are particularly useful (medical-detection sensors for your teeth! Synthehol!).

Link roundup, on books and other things for reading July 16, 2012

Posted by Erin Ptah in News Roundup.
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“When I asked him about it, he confirmed that, no, the museum didn’t print them. Because it couldn’t afford to. The Cartoon Art Museum is on such a tight budget that it can’t afford the cost of mounting a half-dozen extra labels on foamcore down at the copy shop.

Fifty Shades of Grey and a history of publishing, including fandom’s interactions therewith. Read all the links for extra detail. There’s commentary on FFA as well. (And, wait — from not too long ago — “the trilogy has captured twenty-five percent of the adult fiction market in recent weeks“? What? Just…what?)

“The Nook edition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace (in its English translation) has been de-Kindled, quite literally.

Century-old mummified frozen lobotomized corpses: the setup for a confusing question of copyright law, obviously.

Cache of five hundred preserved but previously unknown fairy tales discovered in a German archive. Archivists are awesome.

“In 1934, Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes,” as he called them) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files.” With associated video. If you want Internet in your steampunk setting, this would be the thing to base it on.

And this is a palate-cleansing post of geeky stuff. March 24, 2012

Posted by Erin Ptah in Hellsing, News Roundup.
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The words used to identify ASCII characters, from the familiar to the obscure.

Indian man who wandered away from his family at age 5 finds them again…via Google Maps.

A column written on the death of William Hanna (as in Hanna-Barbera), as written by the characters he was known for.

Some thoughts on small talk from people who aren’t good at it.

House of 1000 Manga reviews Hellsing (the manga, with nods to the animated versions). With appreciation for the style, ridiculousness, and glory all in turn.

What’s the gospel in seven words? The limit forces lots of responses to be perfectly eloquent…and perfectly snarky. A favorite: “Fine, you can use mixed fabrics again.” (Putting it another way: “Having a kid does change everyone, apparently.”) Vonnegut’s version: “Goddammit, babies, you’ve got to be kind.” The Bill & Ted version: “Be excellent unto each other. Party on.” One commenter’s daughter adds: “For God’s sake, don’t be a dick.”

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