Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
Maria Popova, who recently wrote a Year In Reading post for our series, has teamed up with artist Lisa Congdon on a new project concerning notable women working in art, science and literature. For each week in 2013, The Reconstructionists will present an illustrated portrait of one “trailblazing woman, along with a hand-lettered quote that captures her spirit.” Updates will also feature a “sort micro-essay about her life and legacy.” Up first in the series are Anaïs Nin, Gertrude Stein, Agnes Martin, and Hedy Lamarr.
If you’ve been on the Internet in the past week, you’ve probably heard about Beyoncé’s incredible new record, Lemonade. Noah Friedman at Wordshop 101 explains why Lemonade is great press for poets (particularly Warsan Shire, who is featured in the film). Andrew Kay writes on how reading poetry aloud connects us with the dead.
A Canadian Ph.D. student wrote (and successfully defended!) a 52,000 word dissertation that features almost no punctuation. Titled “Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge,” the dissertation has no periods, commas or semi-colons, a choice intended to “make a point” about colonial and aboriginal identity. Canada’s National Post has the story.