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May 20, 2010 at 6:44 pm (SMELLING THE FLOWERS, TRANSLATIONS)

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NO SOCIALISTS דרושים סוציאליסטים

May 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm (TRANSLATIONS, תרגומים)

The problem with socialism is socialism, because there are no socialists. Socialism is a system based upon an assumption about human nature that simply isn’t true. I can design a perfect canine community in which dogs never chase squirrels or groom their nether regions in an indelicate manner. But the moment I take that idea from the drawing board to the real world, I will discover that I cannot get dogs to behave against their nature — at least not without inflicting a terrible amount of punishment. Likewise, it’s easy to design a society that rewards each according to his need instead of his ability. The hard part is getting the crooked timber of humanity to yield to your vision.

Jonah Goldberg

הבעיה עם סוציאליזם היא הסוציאליזם: אין סוציאליסטים. סוציאליזם היא שיטה המבוססת על הנחה לגבי טבעו של האדם שפשוט אינה נכונה. אני יכול לבנות קהילה המיועדת לכלבים, בה הכלבים לעולם אינם רודפים אחרי סנאים ולעולם אינם מטפלים בחלקי גופם המוצנעים בצורה שאינה מוצנעת. אך ברגע שאנסה להוציא רעיון זה מן הכח אל הפועל בעולם הממשי, אגלה שלא אוכל להכריח את הכלבים להתנהג בנגוד לטבעם – לפחות לא בלי הפעלת אלימות אכזרית כלפיהם. כך גם קל למדי לתכנן חברה שמספקת לכולם את צרכיהם בלי קשר ליכולותיהם. החלק הקשה הוא לגרום לבול העץ העיקש של האנושות להתיישר לפי החזון שלך

ג’ונה גולדברג

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PUNS

May 9, 2010 at 1:54 pm (PUNS)

The roundest knight at King Arthur’s round table was Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from too much pi.

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A BIT OF LIMERICK FUN…חמשעשוע

April 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm (TRANSLATIONS, תרגומים)

There was a young lady from Niger,

Who went for a ride on a tiger.

They came back from the ride

With the lady inside,

And a smile on the face of the tiger.

עלמה צעירה מניגר

.יצאה לרכוב על נמר

הם חזרו מהבילוי

,עם העלמה כמילוי

.וחיוך על פני הנמר

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JANUS WORDS

February 5, 2010 at 10:13 pm (LANGUAGE, PAPERS)

Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to examine the phenomenon of contronyms, also known as auto-antonyms, autantonyms, antagonyms, self-antonyms and Janus Words. Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms. (Note: here the term “contronym” is used to denote not only the word itself, but also the contradiction between its two different meanings).

I first became interested in the phenomenon while reading Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”, where I encountered the use of the word “terrific” in its old, literal sense. Interestingly for me, there is a Hebrew word with a similar meaning (“נורא”), that went through a similar transformation process, although this happened much more recently (Hebrew being a revived language), and over much shorter period of time than had happened to its English counterpart. There is also a similar case in Russian (from which modern Hebrew speakers may have borrowed), but it is not used as often as in Hebrew. And, unlike in English, in neither Hebrew nor Russian has the word abandoned its original, “terrible” meaning.

For the purpose of this paper I am only interested in contronyms with common etymology (i.e. polysemy), as opposed to true homophones whose meanings are contradictory, such as the verbs “cleave”, “buckle” and “let”. The reason is that the latter seem to have acquired their identical spellings more or less accidentally, rather than as a result of cultural and psychological shifts through which the English-speaking societies went over certain periods of time. It is these shifts and their influence on language that interest me the most, and that I would like to begin to examine.

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SAY WHAT?

August 29, 2009 at 2:28 pm (Twisted IDIOMS)

What I enjoy most in writing is taking existing idioms and twisting them to my own purposes, to mean something different from what they normally mean. (Another such attempt was made here, where ‘a point of despair’ was originally ‘a point of no return’, with ‘return’ being the reader actually returning to read the text after the initial shock). Problem is that I strongly suspect that it can only work well when the reader is not a native-born English (or whatever other language in question) speaker, since to native-born readers the use of common idioms is almost automatic and subconscious. Still, I just cannot resist doing it, it’s too much fun to give up.

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THE OTHER SHOE.

August 29, 2009 at 12:45 pm (LIFE AS I KNOW IT, Twisted IDIOMS)

Sometimes you just have to drop it. The first one is soiled, and if you try to salvage it, you’ll ruin the other one anyway. Just try to make it barefoot back home or to the nearest shoe store, and watch your step more carefully next time.

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