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
I was going to write a post or two about editing classical texts, and I’ll get back to that sometime soon, but I thought I’d take a break and just talk about some words. This post is part of a group I think of as etymological entertainments. I love etymology. Etymology was maybe the first … Continue reading Etymology and Entomology
In my last couple of posts I’ve been exploring the editing of texts, one of the four aspects of my conception of philology. I imagined a philologist two thousand years in the future who is trying to deal with English-language texts from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; her situation was a sort of analogue to … Continue reading When is a Mistake not a Mistake?
In my previous post I imagined a philologist of the future struggling to read and understand ancient books, books from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In that post our philologist was dealing with the word “rtaffic”, which didn’t make any sense at all and didn’t even seem to be an English word. The problem was … Continue reading Rocks On My Shoulders
Imagine that it’s two thousand years in the future, around the year 4000 AD or so (assuming that dates in that year are still figured in AD or perhaps CE), and imagine someone at that future time who is a professor of Ancient English Language and Literature, with a specialization in the literature of the … Continue reading Philology in the Future
I thought I was finished with congeries, at least for a while, but then some late-breaking news came in. First, I got a very interesting email from Paul, who asked if The Twelve Days of Christmas counts as a congeries. Wow!!! I would say Yes, definitely, it’s a heap of stuff, without any grammatical connection, … Continue reading A Little More on Congeries
In the last few posts I have attempted to apply the structuralist principle—in language, structures can carry meaning—to a few of the traditional rhetorical figures. I’ve looked at epizeuxis and diacope, antithesis, and gradatio, and in this post I will add one more, congeries. In a way congeries is the rhetorical figure without a structure. … Continue reading A Heap of Words