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.
“‘I can hold my own in the bedroom and the boardroom,’ she said to no one, and to everyone. ‘You should never underestimate me.’ She took off her blonde ponytail and shook her hair loose; there was another blonde ponytail underneath it.” There’s no better time than now to revisit Mallory Ortberg’s classic, unbelievably funny piece “A Day in the Life of an Empowered Female Heroine” from The Toast.
David Meltzer interviewed renowned Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the Poetry Foundation. At 93 years of age, Ferlinghetti still contends that “the real popular poets of America” are not the people writing verse for poetry collections, but rather the folk musicians and folksingers. “A lot of folksingers’ poems are greater than the printed poems!” Ferlinghetti explains. Evidently the American Academy of Arts and Letters agrees: Bob Dylan recently became the first rock musician ever inducted into its ranks.
The New York Times gives Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Taylor Branch a well-deserved profile. I’ve mentioned before that his take down of the NCAA’s corruption is astounding, but now’s a good time to mention that his e-book, The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA, is even better. Branch also appeared on Wednesday night’s “Colbert Report” to discuss the book.