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I found this on Peter Serafinowicz‘s excellent site. Its has some beautifully choice turns of phrase and extremely odd intonational patterns.  Example:  ‘Without lingering we put some citric juice… Be careful not to make gruel… you should seek to muster certain elegance…’

Please Note: the video originally linked to here has been removed ‘due to terms of use violation‘… sorry.  I’m not sure whose terms of whose use were violated by whom but I do not support violation in any form.

Try this instead:


This Futurismic post is fascinating. It cites an article by Kevin Kelly about a disk that has been imprinted with a record of the world’s languages in ever decreasing font size, right down to the microscopically tiny.

It sounds like something Borges might have cooked up, but is a brilliant way to maintain decipherability across human languages, many of which we are losing at a depressing rate.


‘’s Statistically Improbable Phrases, or “SIPs”, are the most distinctive phrases in the text of books in the Search Inside!™ program. To identify SIPs, our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside! program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to all Search Inside! books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

SIPs are not necessarily improbable within a particular book, but they are improbable relative to all books in Search Inside!. For example, most SIPs for a book on taxes are tax related. But because we display SIPs in order of their improbability score, the first SIPs will be on tax topics that this book mentions more often than other tax books. For works of fiction, SIPs tend to be distinctive word combinations that often hint at important plot elements.

Click on a SIP to view a list of books in which the phrase occurs. You can also view a list of references to the phrase in each book. Learn more about the phrase by clicking on the search link.’

This is what a William Hope Hodgson book had for its SIPs on Amazon:

blowing adrift, few ratlines, vast pulling, gone forrard, lee ladder, away aft, poop ladder, old packet, big officer, fore royal, fore hatch, fore rigging, fore side, man aloft, silent ship, mizzen rigging, main rigging, royal yard, following instant, eight bells, stone ship, missing ships

Er… Zaffre Kolinsky might be interested in this.

Here are some from Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth:

hundred terces, ten terces, five terces, thousand terces, magic cusps, beardless peasant, fifty terces, violet cusp, twenty terces, three terces, indenture points, blue concentrate, blue prism, three mimes, midship deck, boot dressing, golden tapestry, hat ornament, missing scales, temporal stasis, shining fields, dying earth, porridge bowl, red sunlight

I happened across this blog (click the title above for a link), which makes intriguing proposals for recording real examples of endangered languages.

July 2018
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