Glossographia

Anthropology, linguistics, archaeology, and writing systems

News roundup

Posted by schrisomalis on October 9, 2008

A few tidbits of recent news:

There’s an interesting article in the New York Times on what is described as ‘elderspeak‘: the use of kindly but demeaning and belittling forms of address towards elders by medical professions.  What isn’t discussed, as noted in Ozarque’s Journal, is that this register is essentially restricted to talking to female elders, and that it is not only the words used, but the variety of paralinguistic contextual information (body language, intonation, etc.) that makes this form of language use so odious.

In the news from Near Eastern epigraphy, a bowl has been found at Alexandria dating between the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD describing ‘Christ’ as a ‘magician’ (goistais).    Or maybe it is describing ‘Chrestos’, a member of an association known as Ogoistais.   The dating is broad enough to refer to either a pre-Christian or early Christian context, and probably we will never know any more than that.

As someone who has studied Latin, one of my pet peeves is the notion that learning Latin (as opposed to learning any other language) is a key to academic success.  I believe that the correlation between taking Latin and academic success is the other way around: bright, intellectually curious students take Latin, but were predisposed to academic success anyway.  We have another article in the New York Times this week suggesting that thousands more students are picking Latin than in the recent past; I welcome the trend, but wonder whether these kids are taking the subject for the right reason.

Finally, a recent evolutionary-psychological study suggests that women prefer more intelligent men for both short and long-term relationships: that even in terms of thinking about a ‘fling’, there was some observable effect of intelligence on sexual appeal after watching videos of various potential mates.   I’m not going to get started on studies like this today, but stay tuned.   My own anecdotal evidence (sample of one) suggests that this finding is at best an exaggeration …

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2 Responses to “News roundup”

  1. Sol said

    May I point out that, with a scant five weeks of an intro Latin course under my belt, I know that the plural accusative declension of “discipulus, discipuli” is “discipulos,” while the caption for the photo at the top of the article uses “discipuli,” the nominative plural declension, in a place where the noun is clearly a direct object.

  2. schrisomalis said

    Heh, good catch, Sol – you’re quite right! One could argue that when writing in English, we normally pluralize Latin words according to the Latin rules but don’t decline them otherwise. But that would be non-pedantic, which doesn’t sound much like me at all!

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