Russia’s Special Operation on English

Language learners know about false friends. Slavic languages have some doozies. For instance, riječ in Croatian means a word, while реч in Ukrainian means a thing; запомніць in Bulgarian means to memorize, while zapomenout in Czech means to forget; proud Serbs might write понос (pride) on the side of a building, while their Russian brothers… Continue reading Russia’s Special Operation on English

Translators on Book Covers, Reading Habits, and Translation Practice

I’ve been following the latest efforts to advocate for translators’ names to appear on the covers of the books they’ve worked on with great interest. I admire this effort and think that every little bit helps in improving the working conditions of translators. There are other good things about this effort, but that’s not what… Continue reading Translators on Book Covers, Reading Habits, and Translation Practice

Seven Spot

Ba Ren Chi topped 6,500 listens on Jamendo recently, which is nice, but much nicer is this new piece I finished. “Seven Spot” is all about sevens, nines, and other assorted (mostly odd) numbers. I was busy with everything, but it was haunting me. Maybe it won’t be waking me up so much in the… Continue reading Seven Spot

How to Translate Anything

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m teaching a new course this semester, with a title I have borrowed (with permission) from Benjamin Paloff at the University of Michigan. “How to Translate Anything” is a course I have been threatening to teach for many years, and I’m finally doing it, beginning on Monday of… Continue reading How to Translate Anything

Those Taciturn Swedes

Prepping for my spring course “How to Translate Anything,” I came across this insight from David Bellos in his Is That a Fish In Your Ear?: Filmmakers dependent on foreign-language markets are well aware of how little spoken language can actually be represented in on-screen writing. Sometimes they choose to limit the volubility of their… Continue reading Those Taciturn Swedes

Box No. 26

As I mentioned in my legacy post last week, some of the books in the Heim collection are labeled with both Michael’s and Priscilla’s names, often with a date. Others have Mike’s name only. Quite a few, it turns out, have only Priscilla’s name in them. Their home library was a collective affair, with titles… Continue reading Box No. 26

Teaching Russian Culture: weeks 1-3

In an earlier post I explained a revised approach to a course I’ve taught for many years, Introduction to Russian Culture, a general survey for undergraduate students, many of whom have little background with the topic and most of whom are fulfilling a world civilizations requirement. This is a course I’ve taught at two institutions… Continue reading Teaching Russian Culture: weeks 1-3

Legacy

Priscilla Heim, Michael Henry Heim’s widow, was looking for a place for his books, and I volunteered to take them and find homes for them. Seventy-six boxes showed up last week, and I started going through them on Friday. As some readers of this blog will know, Mike was my teacher at UCLA, a mentor… Continue reading Legacy

Tolstoy versus God on Humor

I’ve been thinking lately that Tolstoy’s relative lack of a sense of humor might have something to do with his habitually assuming the perspective of God. This is unlike Dostoevsky, whose humanism includes at least some of the absurdity of our place on earth in it. This can be funny (“funny Dostoevsky” — kha, kha,… Continue reading Tolstoy versus God on Humor