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Ice and Holiday Miscellany

Some ice and snow made the commute hellish last night, and ice on the roads this morning slowed my morning drive a touch. Nothing too bad for a Midwesterner used to winter conditions, but probably fairly scary to the locals who see snow once at year, and ice less often.

Anyway, here's a summary of the many strange things one learns from other people during holiday conversations. I love long rambling conversations, and so do my family and learned friends, as you might guess:

  • In Germany, librarians were taught a special form of handwriting for use on professional documents.
  • The definition of "sweet milk": it's what we now call just milk, but it sounds better, doesn't it?
  • The origins of Afrikaans as a distinct language date to the 18th century and are modeled on English language structures (!).
  • Motorists aren't the only ones in Seattle latched onto their cell phones. Bicyclists are now doing it as well; just saw one on Saturday.
  • Bellevue has a Japanese garden, the Yao Japanese Garden, as part of the Bellevue Botanical. It's not nearly as formal as the Seattle Japanese Garden in the Arboretum, but then, the Bellevue one is open all winter, and the camellias are blooming right now.
  • "It's spectacular in the spring, when the hyphens migrate to the sea."
  • There's a huge difference between Shetlanders and Scots, and there'd be even more if the King of Denmark had paid the dowry he promised. The Shetlanders even have their own language.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was not just a poet; he was also a privy councillor responsible for the mines in Weimar. Mind you, as a poet he was a millionaire, but he still had this peculiar day job to please his patron, the Duke.
  • There's an annual conference for medievalists in Kalamazoo, MI. I'm inordinately amused by the combination of "medieval" and "Kalamazoo".

In book news, I saw the cover flats of Mr. Baggins and Return to Bag End, the new part titles of the History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff. Very good-looking books these are going to be, and the images on Amazon.uk don't do their metallic foil justice. It amuses me that they have part titles, just as LotR does.

Comments

(Anonymous)
Dec. 4th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
I went to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and worked in the Print shop on Campus. I remember having to print up booklets for them. I remember thinking "what language are these guys going to be speaking in?" and "will there be knights???"
But it turned out to be a bunch of stuffy old scholars who thought that fun was arguing about what dialectic of old English captures the nuisances of Chaucer the best.
No knights...
the_monkey_king
Dec. 4th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
Bummer. I was hoping at least for some panels on "Peasant Revolts: Threat or Menace?" or maybe "Vambraces and Coursers: Ten Tips for the Well-Dressed Knight". Or "Monkish Menus: What Cloistered Orders *Really* Ate to Get So Fat".

Though Chaucer is certainly entertaining.
byrhtelm
Dec. 7th, 2006 01:28 am (UTC)
Reply
Having been there myself, I don't think that the scholars are nearly so stuffy. (Well, some of them were, but that's another story...) As for good topics, it just depends on where you look. The Tolkien series was quite fun. – Wishing I had the current catalogue in front of me... -

(And just to prove exactly what you were saying... Chaucer was written in Middle English with a London Dialect. Now arguing about the dialect of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was fun. :D )

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