A linkage gallimaufrey

The internet is full of things, and many of those things are wonderful gems of linguistic interest. Here are some of the language-related links that have recently caught my eye:

As if on cue, Kyle Kallgren just this week posted a video on William Shakespeare’s Star Wars as what we can hope is the first of this year’s Summer of Shakespeare series. It’s a nice corrective and counterpoint to the grousing I did in my previous post, and Kallgren highlights a whole lot of what Doescher does right in capturing the Shakespearean style in his book series. (And I note that in a couple of the examples he cites, there are, contrary to my impressions, a couple of yous sprinkled in Doescher’s verse. Though I’m still convinced he’s not doing those protocols justice, I’m also happy to not be entirely right about his work.) Kallgren is very smart and funny, and always worth watching on the subject of Shakespeareana in particular; I linked to his magisterial takedown of the painfully stupid Anonymous in my last post, but all his commentary on Shakespeare on film will reward your attention.

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Nearer the Force to thee

“For in much wisdom is much grief,” wrote the author of Ecclesiastes, “and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” And if you don’t believe it, watch a costume drama with a historian sometime.

I cast some shade on my fellow nerds last week for our preoccupation with minutiae, but it’s also true that sometimes deep knowledge of a subject makes it hard to appreciate things that brush against it in a, shall we say, less immersive way. They could have at least made some effort to get the details right is the eternal lament of anyone who has just seen their field of interest given a half-cocked treatment in some bit of commercial media, and none of us who grumble about such things ever really understand that we are too narrow a band of the intended audience to make that effort worthwhile. So it goes.

One of my fields of interest is Shakespeare, and I’m just deeply immersed enough in that subject to be the guy who’s not much fun when I trip over a mistake that misrepresents some odd detail of Shakespeareana. But I have to admit that we Bardophiles have it pretty good; while we do occasionally have to roll our eyes at the moonbat chemtrail reptoid fever dreams of the Oxfordians, or grit our teeth just a little when someone misquotes “Alas, poor Yorick,” those are relatively minor annoyances in a world where there’s a movie of young Magneto in the Scottish Play. So I really do try my best to be a good sport and not grouse over things no one but me cares about because they weren’t memorizing soliloquys back in high school just because it seemed like it would be fun.

By most measures, William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher should have hit the mark for me. Doescher has an admirably good ear for Shakespearean cadence and word choice, he doesn’t make a hash of early modern English morphology, and his verse scans nicely. He’s made what could have been a one-off joke into a thing that works better than it probably has any right to over an extended series, and so he gets a lot of credit for doing something clever and doing it, in many respects, very well. And yet all the same, when my famous author friend Mike loaned me a copy, I found myself bouncing off what to almost anyone else would seem like a trivial detail – so trivial, in fact, that it can be distilled to a single word, and that word is you.

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Bo shuda

It’s Star Wars Day, and if you’re a fan of both Star Wars and language (especially conlangs, or constructed languages), you might enjoy spending some time with The Complete Wermo’s Guide to Huttese, which opens up with some of the real-world origins of the alien language spoken in the films:

According to the Behind the Magic CD-Rom, Ben Burtt derived the Huttese language from the ancient Incan dialect, Quechua. He based many phrases on samples from a language exercise tape. I have found a site that gives lessons on Quechua and have found a few Quechua words used in the Star Wars saga. The first word is ‘tuta.’ In Episode I the phrase “Sebulba tuta Pixelito” is used meaning “Sebulba from Pixelito.” The Quechua ‘tuta’ however used in this phrase: “Imarayku kunan tuta,” means “For this night past.” Another word is ‘chawa.’ “Neek me chawa wermo,” said Sebulba: “Next time we race,” but in Quechua, ‘chawa’ means ‘uncooked.’ And although ‘tullpa’ which means “cooking spot in a kitchen” is not an exact spelling of ‘tolpa’ (Tolpa da bunky dunko=Then you can go home) the pronunciation is identical. Thus we can gather that Quechua is not Huttese itself but it is a model Ben Burtt used for the style and sound of Huttese. According to some sources, the scene where Greedo encounters Han Solo at the cantina, Greedo actually says something akin to, “I love your big blue eyes.”

There’s another handy Huttese phrasebook at Nerd Girl Army, and if you just want a brief rundown, this video will give you some basic phrases, as well as pointing out that the Huttese numbering system is base-8.

 

If this kind of thing fascinates you, then U kulle rah doe kankee kung.