Also it’s funny that class notes were mentioned in the last post because Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics is pretty much just slightly-edited class notes from Aristotle’s lectures.  As a result, it’s an absolute bitch to read because everything’s so compressed and sketchy.



when I was studying Greek I would get frustrated and annoyed because often, at the beginning of a sentence or clause — or just scattered haphazardly throughout — there would be three or four “particles” with no specific meaning. the literal translation might be “so thus and”, but of course you couldn’t put that down. they were just placeholder words, colloquial linguistic padding.

now, of course, I realize that I start sentences with “okay but like”.

you can sing the praises of the Greeks all you want, but the fact is, Plato wrote with all the elegance and grace of an off-the-cuff tumblr post.

seriously though like let’s not romanticize the past like we do okay we preseverve personal manuscripts as these MAJESTIC RELICS of the past and it’s like no????? half the shit in manuscripts is so fucking dumb hilarious but dumb it’s like preserving the notes i take in class and trying to discern anything serious from them we even do this with things as recent as shakespeare YOU’D THINK after catullus we would learn that humanity has always found fart jokes funny that EVERYONE draws dicks in their notes that AT NO POINT IN HISTORY have we been refined and mature and like I LOVE IT but let’s ADMIT THAT THAT’S THE CASE (via alfonselric)

Yes and no!  Some different things are going on here.  The OP is associating “linguistic padding” with a very specific type of linguistic padding that exists on tumblr, and the tag novel then goes on to more or less call that dumb and hilarious.

The “okay but like” style on tumblr is coded language that identifies the writer as youthful, informal, and off-the-cuff but excited.  ”Okay but like” in particular can be used to introduce a thought which is slightly at odds with popular opinion (“okay but like pumpkin spice is gross tho”) or just a newish insight, especially if it’s paired with “can we talk about how” or something.  The particles do have meaning—they provide context, style, flavour.  The informality is very often for comedic effect, and the “padding” allows us to use comic timing even in a text-only medium.  (So do spacing, punctuation, caps/lowercase, and the constraints of the tag novel.)

You guys all know this, you know tumblr has interesting language stuff going on.

I’m a Latinist, not a Greek person, but it’s absolutely true that Classical texts use small words for similar purposes…but most of the Classical texts that survive today are not informal.  Some are, but most of what we have (that you would study in undergrad) are speeches, letters to/from important people, poems, plays, books, etc.  Those little padding words have different context and meaning in a formal text, but of course they still exist.

(Also remember that the literacy rate in the ancient world was not the same as what we have in 21st century First World countries. Not as bad as it would get later in the Middle Ages, but still.)

In Latin, as in English, a lot of those words are conjunctions—enim is one that you see all over the place, translated variously as “for, for instance, namely, that is to say, I mean, in fact” and so on.  Iam is an adverb that means “already, now, soon, just, precisely, nowadays, immediately, forthwith, moreover”, etc.  Small words with a wide variety of usages tend to tumble around loosely in language and get used as padding.  

(“Particles” is a term that means a specific thing, obviously, but like the OP I’m using it casually to mean this sort of small padding word.)

"Okay but like" is more or less an interjection consisting of several words—"but" may or may not actually function as a conjunction in the sentence.  Latin padding, when translated to English, reads more like:

"Indeed, now, but of course, those things having already been said…"

This sounds way formal and uptight, but that’s a result of awkward translation as much as anything—most of us don’t say “indeed” at all unless we’re trying to sound formal as a joke.  If we were to translate “indeed’ (quidem or enim or something) as “really tho” it would sound a lot more familiar.

Plato in particular was a great fucking writer, and one reason he’s great is because of that looseness—he can pull out all the rhetorical stops, but he can also write somewhat naturalistic sounding dialogue. (As natural as it gets when everyone’s falling all over themselves to agree with Socrates.)  That’s one reason you’ll find more “okay but like” in Plato, but it’s no accident.

Anyway, if that wasn’t the question and you were actually asking Classicists to confirm whether ancient writers talk about farts and dicks, I can tell you that’s 100% accurate.  Catullus, Martial, Plautus = enjoy those dick jokes.

Yes, I plan to have hot dogs and wine for Shabbat dinner. Yes, on purpose.  I had the chance to make chicken and i said no, not today.  Hot dogs today.  Only this will bring me joy.

I had a hard day of editing Kim Kardashian captions.




When Caroline Walter of Freiburg, Germany died at the age of 16, her sister, ,Selma, had a sculptor cast a life size sculpture for the gravestone - Every morning since Caroline’s funeral, a fresh flower was found tucked in the crook of the arm, and still is to this day - Nobody knows who leaves it - Every single morning! - Caroline died in 1867 - For 146 years, someone has been leaving flowers…

Caroline totes had a vampire lover.

This is by far, my favorite theory.




When Caroline Walter of Freiburg, Germany died at the age of 16, her sister, ,Selma, had a sculptor cast a life size sculpture for the gravestone - Every morning since Caroline’s funeral, a fresh flower was found tucked in the crook of the arm, and still is to this day - Nobody knows who leaves it - Every single morning! - Caroline died in 1867 - For 146 years, someone has been leaving flowers…

Caroline totes had a vampire lover.

This is by far, my favorite theory.



When people say there is no English equivalent for the word “davka,” they don’t necessarily mean that the gist of the word cannot be put across in any given sentence; but the translation may differ from sentence to sentence, and there is no single English word that quite captures all those variations.

“Davka” is often translated, in a sometimes clunky fashion, as “precisely,” as when the timing of political moves is questioned with “lama davka ahshav?” – why (precisely) now, as opposed to any other time? In colloquial English, this would be left at “why now?” but the added “davka” makes the question more pointed, implying a host of unsaid reasons that the time chosen was now, of all times. It is this meaning, of “bediyuk” – “precisely” or “just so” – that derives from the Aramaic.

The July 2006 first edition of Israel’s first Hebrew-language journal about Yiddish culture explained why the editors called their journal “Davka,” whose full meaning came into Hebrew through the Yiddish, notwithstanding its Aramaic derivation. “Why ‘Davka’?” the introduction asked. “Because this word encapsulates the story of the relationship between Yiddish and Hebrew – the two related languages that at times lived in fraternity with one another and at times in discord. In its Aramaic source, the word ‘davka’ taught that one must be precise about things; but Yiddish imbued the word with its useful meaning, which we know today, of ‘thus and no other way’ or ‘doing [something] davka.’”

Doing something “davka” can mean willfully, spitefully or deliberately taking an action calculated to antagonize, in which case “on purpose” may fit the translation bill: “He says he didn’t mean to lock me out, but I think he did it davka.”

It can also imply a paradox, something unexpected, whether for the good or the bad. When used in this sense, “actually” may be a good way to get the idea across in English: “She couldn’t stop criticizing the play when she got home, but then she davka wrote a pretty positive review”; “You may think I hate parties, but I davka had a great time.” This is the sense in which TheMarker used it in a recent Hebrew headline: “16,000 layoffs? According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, unemployment davka dropped to 6.5 percent.”

Then there’s the phrase “lav [not] davka,” which means “not necessarily.” That phrase is turned on its head when deployed as part of a bilingual pun used by a dating website for Israelis with disabilities, whose name – “Love Davka” – plays with the implied question of “You’ve got a disability and what you want to pursue right now is a relationship?” by answering: Yes, davka love.


tagged → #hebrew #languages

I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask writers to get the headline right. 


When I was still in university, the friend who would later become Vegan Israeli Roommate brought me soup once when I was sick.  Regular mushroom barley soup with a vegetable broth instead of beef, and she’d added curry powder to it for a kick.  I don’t keep curry powder around because I’m a control freak about spices, and I like to combine stuff myself.  But I make basically the same soup with a different combo of spices—ginger, cumin, turmeric.  I tossed in smoked paprika tonight.  Yam or celery root is good in a fall/winter vegetable soup like this.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t get exotic mushrooms.  I don’t think it’s possible to fuck this up.

I always thought mushroom barley soup was a general European thing that belonged to everyone, and was surprised to learn that it’s (also?) a Jewish thing.

In the Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, Gil Marks explains that this soup originates from Poland and its name comes from the Slavic word for hulled grains, krupa. Both Jews and non-Jews, as explained in the 1903 edition of The Jewish Encyclopedia, commonly made it. However, in order to comply with the laws of kashrut, two versions of this soup were prepared by Jews, namely a pareve version and one that contained meat. When this soup is prepared without meat, it is often served with sour cream. This dish was a staple in households in Poland and the Baltic States and was eaten on a daily basis in some homes. Due to its almost daily presence on kitchen tables, it was seen as an unexceptional meal as reflected by the Yiddish expression “Beser bay zikh krupnik, eyder bay yenem gebrotns” meaning “Better barley soup at home than a roast at someone else’s home.”


I found this copy of Thoreau’s Walden buried in the park.  I opened it and saw these roots growing between the pages. I don’t know whether to frame it or put it back in the ground.

tagged → #books