“As a speaker of a small language, it can be alarming to hear the rapidly increasing influx of new words from a dominant force. Back in 2000, linguistics researcher Sylfest Lomheim caused upheaval by claiming the Norwegian language wouldn’t survive the next century. Is this the beginning of the end?” On the Anglicization of Norwegian.
for actors who’ve considered suicide/when the matrix isn’t enuf: Keanu Reeves, who some years ago raised hackles when he played Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane, has now written a book-length poem called Ode to Happiness that pokes fun at excessive melancholy. “I draw a hot sorrow bath/In my despair room,” it begins.
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Curious to know what the new Most Irritating Word is? Not many people agree on the number one offender, but for a while a top choice was “literally,” which evolved so much over the past few decades that the Oxford English Dictionary revised its official definition. At Slate, Katy Waldman proposed that we give the title to “amazeballs.” Now, in The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz makes the case for “disruptive,” the scourge of the tech world.
“If Gothic literature had a family tree, its twisted gnarled branches chock-full of imperiled, swooning heroines and mysterious monks, with ghosts who sit light on the branches, and Frankenstein’s monster who sits heavy, with troops of dwarves, and winking nuns, and stunted, mostly nonflammable babies, at its base would sit Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto.” Carrie Frye writes for Longreads about the history and personality behind the first Gothic novel, which turns 250 this year.
Librarians might frown on P.D.A. in the library, that is, Public Displays of Affection by canoodling college couples. But another kind of P.D.A. might bring a different, more welcome sort of disruption to the library: Patron-Driven Acquisition, a model of e-book licensing that aims to relieve library purchasing agents from spending thousands on books nobody will end up reading.
David Remnick’s biography of President Obama, The Bridge is out. (The Times explained how Remnick finds time to run the New Yorker and write a 700-page biography of a sitting president.) Also new: Another chronicle of the collapse, The End of Wall Street by talented financial journalist Roger Lowenstein; Nobel laureate Jose Saramago’s “blog book” The Notebook; another in the posthumously published oeuvre of Irène Némirovsky, Dimanche and Other Stories; the latest from A.L. Kennedy, What Becomes; and Tom Rachman’s touted debut The Imperfectionists.