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Posts Tagged ‘Dictionary

“Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective and valuable than words”*…


What do you expect?

… in love, and indeed in life at large– as illustrated in Bruno Munari’s 1963 book Supplemento al dizionario italiano (from which, the selection above).

Striking the balance between practical guide and practical joke, the reference begins with a collection of gestures published in 1832 in Naples, collated by Canon Andrea de Jorio as “The Ancients’ mimic through the Neapolitan gestures”

… then proceeds as a contemporary update.

I don’t care

More in Supplemento al dizionario italiano.

[TotH to City of Sound]

* “Gestures, in love, are incomparably more attractive, effective and valuable than words.”  – Francois Rabelais


As we just gesticulate, we might send adventurous birthday greetings to Giovanni Battista Belzoni; he was born on this date in 1778.  The 14th child of a poor barber in Padua, he was a barber, a Capuchin monk, a magician, and a circus strongman before finding his true calling– explorer (and plunderer) of Egyptian antiquities.

Belzoni’s call to action came when he met a British Consul-General named Henry Salt who persuaded him to gather Egyptian treasures to send back to the British Museum.  Under extremely adverse conditions he transported the colossal granite head of Rameses II from Thebes to England, where it is now one of the treasures of the British Museum. Later, he discovered six major royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, including that of Seti I, and brought to the British Museum a spectacular collection of Egyptian antiquities. He was the first person to penetrate the heart of the second pyramid at Giza and the first European to visit the oasis of Siwah and discover the ruined city of Berenice on the Red Sea. He stumbled into the tomb of King Ay, but only noted a wall painting of 12 baboons, leading him to name the chamber ‘Tomb of the 12 Monkeys” (because hieroglyphs had not yet been deciphered, he usually had no idea who or what he had found).

Belzoni had two habits that have contributed to his legacy:  he was a lover of graffiti signatures, and inscribed “Belzoni” on many of Egypt’s antique treasures, where the carvings survive to this day.  And he carried a whip:  which, given that he was one of the models for Indiana Jones, became one of that character’s hallmarks.





Written by LW

November 15, 2012 at 1:01 am

The Sincerest Form of Flattery…

Sarah Johnson, a reference librarian at Eastern Illinois University, and keeper of Reading the Past, began to notice some striking similarities in the cover art of books she was reviewing.  She began to collect examples, and viola– Reusable Cover Art, from whence, the example above.

Click through for many other striking (and often, amusingly ironic) resemblances– and all the way to the bottom of the gallery for a nifty set of links to even more.

(Thanks to reader NM)

As we contemplate Shepard Fairey’s predicament, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884 that the first edition of The Oxford English Dictionary was published.   Edited by James Murray (“The Professor” in Simon Winchester’s wonderful The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary), it was originally a project of the Philological Society of London, devoted to cataloging the English words that had evaded inclusion in then-current dictionaries.  The first edition had the benefit of 27 years of work, by dozens of contributors; it sold 4,000 copies.

James Murray in the Scriptorium, the home of the OED,
on Banbury Road in Oxford (source)

Definitely definitive…

.. a veritable treasury of similarly helpfully defined words at My First Dictionary.

As we celebrate the anniversary of the first Earth Day (1970), we might scribble a birthday greeting to a master wordsmith, the “daddy” of Lolita,  Vladimir Nabokov, accomplished lepidopterist, creator of chess problems, and novelist extraordinaire..

Nabokov was born on April 10, 1899 according to the Julian calendar in use in Russia at that time. The Gregorian equivalent is April 22– found by adding 12 days to the Julian date…  one shouldn’t be taken in by sources that incorrectly calculate a date of 23 April, using the 13-day difference in the calendars that applied only after 28 February 1900. Indeed, in Speak, Memory Nabokov himself affirms today’s date as the big day, and unpacks the too-common error.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov

Written by LW

April 22, 2009 at 1:01 am

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