Karl Hagen's blog

28 Jun 2008

Those pesky pronouns

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
Your high school English teacher always warned you about those ambiguous pronouns, but many of the examples she gave you probably weren't really ambiguous in a practical context. Here's one that is demonstrably ambiguous, but not, I think, for the reasons usually offered in high school textbooks. Language Hat grouses about an explanation offered by Dear Abby about the distinction between "burn down" and "burn up."
DEAR ABBY: Does a house "burn up" or "burn down"?
22 Jun 2008

Captchas should be fixed

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I've apparently been having problems with the captchas that protect the comment and contact forms, but I don't see them when I'm logged into the site, so it took me a while to notice. Sorry for that. They should be working now.
2 May 2008

Transliteration for dummies

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Note to the College Board: the correct transliteration for 'þ' is 'th', not 'p'. I've finally started to go back to analyzing the SAT writing material to infer the College Board's views on grammar, and while flipping through the January 2008 SAT, my eye came upon this bit from a passage in a reading section about Ezra Pound's translation of the Old English poem "The Seafarer":
Moreover, there are unfortunately some mistakes, as when Pound misreads purh ("through") as pruh ("coffin").
2 May 2008

New Service Provider

Submitted by Karl Hagen
I've been neglecting my blog lately, partly because I've been busy, but also because my former service provider was giving increasingly spotty service, and I didn't have the energy to deal with it. However, I've now switched to a new provider that I trust will give much better service. (The site already feels much snappier). I can also finally upgrade Drupal.
11 Jan 2008

Google News is pissing me off

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
My browser's home page is Google news, and when I am signed in, it gives me a list of "personalized" news stories that are supposedly based on my previous searches and news. Yet it continually serves up stories that I have absolutely no interest in (most recently the Britney Spears tragicomedy), and there seems to be no way to override what Google thinks is good for me. Why, oh why, don't they have a "not interested" button like Amazon? For the time being, I've given up on their personalization and will go to Google news without signing in.
23 Dec 2007

Let's call it 19th century

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
I'm now in England for Christmas, after spending a week in Ireland. We stayed in a lovely rural area in Claire, and one of the spots we stopped was Bunratty castle, a fifteenth-century structure that has been quite well restored. Like many other castles, it is cramped and has lots of narrow staircases, not at all like the Hollywood image of spacious luxury. You can understand why so many aristocratic families tended to abandon their castles for more comfortable dwellings.
11 Dec 2007

Prose translation is for sciolists

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
I was contemplating a post about Old English metrical forms to mirror the last one on word order, but I'm leaving for England and Ireland at the end of the week and don't have time to come up with anything elaborate. So instead, I present for your philological amusement my translation of one of Aldhelm's Enigmata into Old English verse.

Ic eom huses weard,    holdscipes genoh,
bold wæccende,    bryce geardstapa.
On þearle niht    ic þeostre oferfare,
ne anforlæte    þæt eagena leoht,

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