Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Off the shelf...

I finished rereading The Hunger Games trilogy preparatory to maybe catching the flick at a matinee this week sometime. The middle book is a little weak, relative to the other two, but I'd forgotten what a satisfying ending Mockingjay had. Of course, given the setting of the books, I wasn't demanding "and they all lived happily ever after." I was willing to settle for "and they all lived."

Now I'm learning new things, like about the geodetic survey of India in The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named. This was, like, a moon shot undertaking in the early 19th Century, and it has malaria and tigers and monsoons and eccentric Britishers and smashing expensive surveying equipment against the domes of old temples to Shiva. Among things I did not know: It's "Eve-rest", not "Ever-est", and "Jungle" is a loan word from Sanskrit that simply means uncultivated or unimproved land. (But now I'm left wondering what the British called jungles before they took over India and stole all their words.)

21 comments:

BryanP said...

I've read my stepdaughter's copy of the first book and it was pretty good. Book 2 is currently loaned out to one of her friends, so I can't read it yet. I've heard both of my stepdaughters complain about the third book and I'm guessing they didn't get the "and they all lived happily ever after" ending they wanted.

Tam said...

BryanP,

re: ending.

Ironically, for a "young adult"-targeted book, I think the ending isn't very satisfying for young adults.

TBeck said...

Scotland.

BobG said...

Jangal is Farsi for forest, and Pushto being a Farsi derivative, that would tend to influence the English version also.

Lewis said...

My favorite word from the Survey? Pundit. To see that word used today to refer to, say, Robert Kagan, or Charles Blow, is painful. The pundits were used to survey up beyond the frontiers, trained to take a measured pace whether going uphill or down, with thermometers concealed in their prayer staffs and the rosaries trimmed to 100 beads. They went forth for little pay and less recognition, checking out the frontier lands.

Loves us the word pundit, yes we does.

Able said...

Jungle, rather than Sanskrit is I believe from the Hindi 'Jangal, a forest, a thicket, any tract overrun with bushes or trees' (the a is pronounced as the u in mud apparently).

How do I know this? Well I have a colleague who reminds me of the father in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' only in Hindi. He has a lot of ammunition since according to the Oxford English Dictionary there are over 700 English words 'acquired' from the Hindi during our colonial adventures.

Some of the words leave me wondering what we used to call almost everything before acquiring a word from this colony or that.

http://www.thehistoryofenglish.com/history_late_modern.html

Is an interesting site regarding language development. Apparently you colonials speak more 'Shakespearean' English than we in the mother country due to colonial drag. Who'd have thunk it?

Tim Ellwood said...

At least once a week I learn something new from reading this blog, I am old and thought I knew everything, Thank you.

TomcatTCH said...

I keep thinking the ending of the third book is a coma dream or an afterlife.

kishnevi said...

Read about the Survey in a different book--but forget what book it was now, sorry. My favorite part of the story was the sneaking around Tibet portion.

Able: reading a book titled "The Stories of English" by one David Crystal. Since he's a Liverpudlian, he's probably not related to Billy, but his take is that the "Yanks speak Shakespearean" is wrong. And that many of the differences between American and British English, especially in spelling, are due to one man: Noah Webster.

Stretch said...

kishnevi, I think the book you're referring to is:

Trespassers on the Roof of the World by Peter Hopkirk.

All of Hopkirk's books are worth reading. Deal mainly with the mid-east and the sub-continent and The Great Game. Am fairly sure no one at Department of State has read any. (OK, maybe you Evan.)

DirtCrashr said...

Words attributed to "Hindi" or "Sanskrit" might actually be Bengali or Prakrit which was a pre-medievel era tongue common in the central-massif area like the Deccan Plateau...

Pajamas too, and "Curry" is simply a spicy stew that became so popular in Ol' Blighty the Brits formulated their own tinned version that exists still today in grocery stores across America but is unlike *anything* cooked in India.

kishnevi said...

Stretch, that title and author don't ring a bell. But I'll keep an eye out for his books.

mariner said...

Is an interesting site regarding language development. Apparently you colonials speak more 'Shakespearean' English than we in the mother country due to colonial drag. Who'd have thunk it?

That's because we colonials had the sense to take the best parts of the mother tongue, and leave the rest on the other side.

;)

global village idiot said...

Thanks for a book recommendation - I'll put that on my "must read" list.

By odd coincidence, I ran across an e-book at archive.org called "Maps and Mapmaking." It was a series of lectures from some Limey named Reeves to the Geological Society, or on behalf of the Geological Society to the less-informed public - something like that. Anyway, this series of lectures was talking about the mapping of "the Subcontinent" and Africa in the present tense. It'll be worthwhile to compare the two texts, and being a surveyor myself, I have a deep and abiding fondness for the history of the profession.

Thanks!
gvi

global village idiot said...

Just checked - my library doesn't have a copy.

We'll have to talk it over at Eagle Creek in a couple weeks - provided the event is still on.

gvi

Justthisguy said...

There is a book, called "Hobson-Jobson", I think, about Hindi loan words in English. The local public library used to have a copy. I hope it is still there, but my hope is faint, because the library is controlled by evil librarians of the ilk of Breda, who really enjoy the "weeding."

I swear, I have hated most librarians since I was five or six years old and first learned to read.

It seemed then, and seems now, that librarians think their job is keeping me from reading what I want to read.

Kristopher said...

India still uses the Great Arc monuments to this day for its map meridians.

Then they were measured by GPS in the 1990's ( The US Department of Defense turned of its GPS Encryption for a half hour for this project ), the monuments that Everest himself placed were all a few inches high, and a few inches off ... and exactly where you would expect them to be, within an inch, after taking plate tectonics over time into account.

The ones that were placed while he was bed-ridden were all several feet off.

Seerak said...

Re: Able's "coloniasl drag", I've heard the same thing said by a Parisian Frenchman about the French spoken in Quebec.

Kit said...

"I was willing to settle for "and they all lived.""

That's what I keep hoping for every time I pick up a new George R. R. Martin novel.

Joseph said...

A possibly-relevant quote from James Nicoll:

"We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and riffle their pockets for new vocabulary."

staghounds said...

Having seen the rivers of England, I am surprised that a new word wasn't borrowed for the streams of the new world.

The Great Arc was truly amazing. As was, in its way, the Navy's mapping of the coasts of the earth.

T Beck wins.