This is a blog about language and literature. I’ve always been fascinated by words, by how words form sentences, and how sentences form poems and stories. The technical term for this fascination is philology—the love of language. Friedrich Nietzsche defined philology as the art of reading slowly—that’s where I got the title for this blog. In the section titled What is Philology? I discuss what I take to be the four major components of philology: historical linguistics, the editing of texts, the interpretation of language in context, and the interpretation of literature with special attention to language. I’m interested in all of these, and I will post blogs on all of them, but my own work lies primarily in the third and fourth areas.
I created this site as an invitation for anyone who has a passion for literature—readers and writers of all sorts. I would like to think of this blog as one part of a conversation among people who share an interest in the way language works and the way it turns into art. Please feel free to enter the conversation by dropping me a note with your reactions to my posts or with your own thoughts. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karen L. Hogan, who did all the hard work of designing and mounting this blog. Without her help it wouldn’t have happened.
My Most Recent Blog Posts
It’s been a while since I posted anything about my current research project in narrative analysis. The approach I’m using looks at a narrative from three aspects: the synthetic, the mimetic, and the thematic. The synthetic aspect asks “How is this narrative composed?”; the mimetic aspect asks “What does it represent?”; and the thematic aspect … Continue reading Representation, Big and Small
I. In this post I want to look at the words “analgesic”, “anaesthetic”, and “anodyne”, all derived from ancient Greek and all having to do with pain or the lack of pain. I begin with the word “analgesic”, which is a general term for pain killers which don’t induce loss of consciousness; many analgesics can … Continue reading No Pain, No Gain
By Robert Fisher I’m very pleased to present a Guest Essay, contributed by Friend of the Blog Robert Fisher. This one is about Toponyms, that is, place names, and what we can learn from them. Enjoy!!! Historical linguists can glean some information about the extent of ancient languages and the migrations of the people who … Continue reading Guest Essay: Toponyms
The word “stick” is one of those short Germanic words that form the core of the English vocabulary. Relatives of the word “stick” can be found in many Germanic languages; it can be traced all the way back to Proto-Indo-European, and it shows up in Greek and Latin. The Proto-Indo-European root is “*steig-” (the asterisk … Continue reading Stick, Stigma, Astigmatism, Etiquette
In my previous post (“Cather’s Characters”, posted 16 July), I discussed fifteen character sketches in Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark (and a couple of sketches in Jane Austen’s Emma). I noted that all the sketches in The Song of the Lark concern secondary or tertiary characters. There is no sketch of the principal … Continue reading More on Character Sketches
I my previous post I began to discuss the little character sketches in Willa Cather’s novel, The Song of the Lark. There are, by my count, fifteen of these. Here’s a list of the sketches I’ve found: 1. Thea Kronborg’s mother, p. 14–15.2. Thea’s father, pp. 17-18.3. Thea’s aunt Tillie, pp. 20–21.4. Thea’s friend, Mrs. … Continue reading Cather’s Characters