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
In this post I will talk a little more about the meaning of rhetorical figures, and I hope in the process to address a few questions and comments I’ve received. Rhetorical figures usually have more than one possible meaning. That’s not odd—meaning is rarely one-to-one. Most words, for instance, have a variety of meanings. Take … Continue reading Meaning and Rhetoric #2
In my last post, I talked about the principle that structures can carry meaning, and I gave the examples of a couple of sentence types: tag questions and the cleft construction. In this post I want to talk about the structural meaning of a couple of rhetorical figures. My goal, if I ever reach it, … Continue reading Meaning and Rhetoric
How do words mean? How do sentences mean? How do novels mean? Without getting into the thicket of these very complex questions, I would say that linguists have developed a considerable (but not complete) understanding of how words and sentences mean. But linguists usually stop with sentences; they don’t ask how paragraphs mean, let alone … Continue reading How does a novel mean?
In these posts I want to give an overview of the four aspects of philology: historical linguistics, the editing of texts, the interpretation of meaning in context, and literary criticism with a particular attention to language. I haven't posted on the editing of texts yet, but that will come in a week or two. This … Continue reading English as a Germanic Language, #1