My wife has been watching a Korean drama named 아모르 파티. I searched for information in English. Some sources render 파티 as party (so amor party is a love party), but far more as fati,* in which case what’s a love fati? Some sources add that amor fati is Latin for the love of fate, specifically one’s own fate. The concept dates from the Greek Stoics, and Wikipedia quotes Nietzsche: “that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”
The drama is, as summarised by AsianWIki: “A divorcee with cancer and a penniless single father meet and heal their wounds with the help of each other.” I wonder how many Koreans are familiar with Latin or Stoic philosophy; in fact I wonder how many people from any country are.
Another current drama 미스 몬테크리스토 (mi-seu mon-te-keu-ri-seu-to, Miss Montechristo) also alludes to Western literature, namely Dumas’ The Count of Monte Christo. Just because I haven’t encountered amor fati and have encountered The Count of Monte Christo (but haven’t read it) doesn’t necessarily mean that other people haven’t and have.
(* both p and f can be transliterated as ㅍ; the actual Korean consonant is much closer to p)
A Korean drama about zombies appearing in the Joseon era has been cancelled because of complaints about historical inaccuracies. The inaccuracies in question involved Chinese-style costumes and props, and showing King Taejo (r 1400-1408) cruelly slaughtering innocent people because he was hallucinating. Viewers have apparently accepted the appearance of zombies in the Joseon era as not historically inaccurate.
Last night my wife and I had dinner with friends in their new apartment. After dinner, we watched an episode of the Korean drama 응답하라 1988 (eung-dap-ha-ra), of which I was previously unaware (more about that later). Unlike the dramas my wife watches online, this one, on a streaming service, had English subtitles, so I was was able to follow most of the story (apart from figuring out who was who and how they were related). At one point the female lead and one of her male friends are sitting in the rain. He asks “Why are your hands so cold?”. She replies “Because my heart is warm”.
That is equivalent to English “Cold hands, warm heart”, which I haven’t seen or heard for years. My wife later told me that the full expression in Korean is 마음이 따뜻하면 손이 차갑다, or If you heart is warm, your hands are cold. (There are variations on the internet, including some which put the hands first, as in English.) I haven’t been able to find whether this expression is meant to be literal, figurative or both, and which way round the cause and effect is. My Facebook friends have been unable to help me. As is the often way with most of these sayings, there are multiple interpretations.
I later found that 응답하라 1988 was shown on Korean cable tv in late 2015 – early 2016, which explains why I didn’t know it. I was in Korea at the time, but not watching any cable tv (and very little free-to-air tv). The title 응답하라 1988 is officially given as Reply 1988, which doesn’t make much sense. Some sources give it as Answer me 1988, and Google and Bing both translate 응답하라 by itself as respond, both of which make more sense.
A character in a professionally-produced video drama (no names, no blames) said deign, but the subtitles had dain. Realistically, I have to call that a mistake, but an online search found The Century Dictionary, which I was previously unaware of but which seems to be a major and authoritative (if slightly outdated) source. It records dain as an archaic spelling of deign, so maybe the subtitler was just being archaic rather than wrong, except the video drama is set in modern times, everyone speaks standard US English and the subtitles are otherwise 99.95% correct (there are a few slips, but no others worth commenting about). It also records dain as a shortened form of disdain, but it doesn’t give an example of either use.
I was surprised to find that deign and disdain share an etymology, despite the different spelling. Anglo-French de(s)deigner became Middle English disdainen, while Old French deignier became Middle English deinen, but at some point people reinserted the ‘g’ to reflect the Latin dignus (worthy) and dignārī (to judge worthy).
That reminded me of an exchange in an episode of the British tv series Yes, Minister, in which Sir Humphrey Appleby (a career civil servant) convinces Jim Hacker (an occasionally well-meaning but usually self-serving politician) that egregious is a compliment. I remembered the exchange as:
Jim (reading a newspaper): “… the egregious Jim Hacker …” What does “egregious” mean? Sir Humphrey: It means “outstanding”, Minister. Jim: Oh, that’s nice of them to say so. Sir Humphrey: I’m glad you think so, Minister.
Searching online just now, it seems that my memory is faulty. Various websites record the exchange as:
Jim: “… the egregious Jim Hacker …” What’s “egregious” mean? Sir Humphrey: I think it means “outstanding”. Jim: Oh…? Sir Humphrey: In one way or another.
Last year, I read a similar headline Doctor Who actress dies. Another website named Jacqueline Pierce, who was the major antagonist in Blake’s 7, and appeared in … one serial, three episodes of Doctor Who.
The tv comedy Mind your language ran from 1977 to 1979. I use it occasionally in class to illustrate vocabulary, grammar and communication. One episode (“Many happy returns”) is largely about money. It starts with Sid the college caretaker asking Gladys the tea lady for a free cup of tea, because he’s (something). She replies “You’re always skint, Sid!”. The subtitles (whether auto-generated or created by a human – some episodes are better than others) have “I’m a bit glacier mint”, but audibly that’s not what he says. I had always guessed that it is rhyming slang, as several other episodes show him using that, and even attempting to teach it to the students (one of whom refers to it as “cockeyed slanging rhyme”).
Fast-forward to a few days ago, when I was browsing through a book which I’ll donate or throw away soon. It has a section on Cockney rhyming slang, and one of the items is boracic lint. That is indeed what Sid says, but what is it? Wikipedia explains, quoting its entire article:
Boracic lint was a type of medical dressing made from surgical lint that was soaked in a hot, saturated solution of boracic acid and glycerine and then left to dry.
It has been in use since at least the 19th century, but is now less commonly used. When in use, boracic lint proved to be very valuable in the treatment of leg ulcers.
The term “boracic”, pronounced “brassic”, is also used as Cockney rhyming slang for having no money – “boracic lint” → “skint”.
An article I subedited referred to a company having Australia’s largest privately-owned solar system. The context made it clear that the company owned panels and generators and batteries, but I couldn’t help thinking that it owned a sun and planets and moons, even though this is impossible in practice – there’d be nowhere to put it, for a start.
A major search engine thinks that solar system means a sun and planets and moons. To get an image of panels and generators and batteries, you need to search for solar energy/power/electric system.
(Compare Douglas Adams’ character Hotblack Desiato, a member of the biggest, loudest, richest rock band in the history of history itself, who went from being a man who despised the star system to being a man who buys star systems.)
Every English (and possibly every language) verb comes with rules about what other elements must or can or mustn’t follow it, usually related to the meaning of the verb. The first meaning of want is that we want something: Freddie wants it. And once we want it, we can specify ‘how much of it?’ (all), and ‘when?’ (now). Another is that we want to do something: Freddie wants to break, to ride and to make. These last three verbs also come with their own rules about what other elements must or can or mustn’t follow them. We usually break something, but we can also break out, loose, away or free. We usually ride something or on or in something, but we can just ride (but usually something is implied: I walked and Freddie rode (his bicycle)). We usually make something, but we can also make sure or out.
A third pattern after want is that we want someone else to do something. I can’t recall that Queen provides an example, but Cheap Trick does.
One of the most vehemently contested issues in modern English grammar and usage is ‘singular they’, specifically its use to refer to a person of known gender, or to someone who has chosen not to identify as a specific gender.
Over lunch, I was browsing through the Wikipedia article on Doctor Who. My eye was caught by the sentence ‘The Doctor often finds events that pique their curiosity’. Since late last year, when Jodie Whittaker took over the role, it is impossible to refer to the Doctor as he, and it was always impossible to refer to him, ummm, them as it.
The Wikipedia writer(s) use(s) they once again:
All that was known about the character in the programme’s early days was that they were an eccentric alien traveller of great intelligence
(even though in the program’s early days the Doctor was definitely he).
Alongside their in the usual plural sense:
There have been instances of actors returning at later dates to reprise the role of their specific Doctor.
there is another use of their the singular sense:
The Doctor has gained numerous reoccurring enemies during their travels.