Odious and Peculiar

Philology and esoterica: scribblings, ravings and mutterings.

O&P's Current Pick:

Forging the Sampo

Odious' Links:

The Little Bookroom
The Pumpkin King
Larissa Archer
Inverted Iambs
Eve Tushnet
Pamela Dean
Kambodia Hotel
Pen and Paper

Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary
Deep-Sea News
NASA's Mars Website
Classics Online
Perseus Digital Library

Nine Scorpions
The Blithe Kitchen
Letter from Hardscrabble Creek
Arts & Letters Daily
About Last Night



Chas Clifton's Nature Blog
Rock Art Photo Blog
Girl on a Whaleship
Nature Lyrics Languagehat
Jabal al-Lughat
Laputan Logic
Strange Maps
Vladimir Dinets: Polymath Russian Adventurer
Virtual Tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan
Aerial Landscape Photography
USGS Earth As Art
Panoramic Aerial Maps of the American West

The Internet Bird Collection
Bird Families of the World
Ancient Scripts
The Aberdeen Bestiary Project
The Cephalopod Page
The Ultimate Ungulate
The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire
USGS Streamflow Data

Worthy Miscellany
Finno-Ugrian Music
Boojum Expeditions
American River Touring Association

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Saturday, December 19, 2009
Do you wonder what English sounds like to foreigners (non-Anglophone foreigners, that is)? Well, some Italian professor did his best to show you, in the form of a rock video (definitely a product of its time). The experiment seems pretty successful; indeed, if I heard it as background music, I'm not sure I'd notice anything amiss (though rock lyrics can often be a little opaque to me). It's a similar sensation that overcomes me when I listen to Swedish singing, or to Dutch, as though if I just listen a bit harder I'll be able to understand.

On the same subject, I've always been intrigued by the following passage from Patrick O'Brian (The Nutmeg of Consolation, Ch. 1):

Stephen said, "The Captain does not understand Malay, so you will forgive me if I speak to him in English."

"Nothing would give us greater pleasure than to hear the English language," said the young woman. "I am told it is very like that of birds."

Given O'Brian's general erudition, I expect that he had some precedent for this passage. I'd love to learn what it might be. Though I can imagine how English might sound rather delicate and flitty to an ear accustomed to tonal, nasal speech.

HT: Rod Dreher.


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