International gestures


This (from this site) is a gesture made by President Bush to greet the Texas Longhorn brass band last Thursday. It is called the Hook ’em, ‘horns salute and suggests a pair of horns.

In Norway, it created confusion, as it’s a salute to Satan (heavy metal again).

In American Sign Language it apparently means bullshit.

(Thanks to Derek)


A commenter pointed out that the above picture is not correct, because the thumb should be folded over the nails of the turned-in fingers. Here is a better picture:


This comes from the site of K-Read Custom Promotions, selling a variety of foam (sponge rubber) hands. Minimum order is 100 pieces.

Carter also points out that there is a lengthy post on the topic on Language Log. There’s so much on Language Log that I don’t see it all nowadays. The article concludes, after citing email received, that all the linguistic information in the source is essentially incorrect!

Amtsanwalt (b)

Here’s an entry of Udo Vetter’s that I overlooked:

bq. Grußformel in einem Schreiben der Staatsanwaltschaft:



Amtsanwalt (b)

bq. Das kleine b bedeutet “beauftragt”.

bq. So unterzeichnen Amtsanwälte, die zwar den Vorbereitungsdienst absolviert haben und im Amtsanwaltsdienst arbeiten, aber noch nicht zu Amtsanwälten ernannt sind. Das (b) darf frühestens nach zwölf Monaten gestrichen werden – wenn sich der Amtsanwalt, der keiner ist, im Amtsanwaltsdienst bewährt hat.

bq. Oder so ähnlich.

bq. Bei dieser Gelegenheit: Weiß jemand, was ein “Polizeihauptmeister m. AZ” ist?

The comments explain the last term:

bq. “m. AZ” heisst mit Amtszulage. A9 mit AZ ist der höchste Dienstgrad, den man als Beamter im mittleren Dienst bekommen kann. (xomment by Rpfl.)

Appetites on John Grisham

I have links to some food blogs on my index page. There are at least two lawyer food blogs: The Amateur Gourmet, which started as a law student’s blog, and Appetites, in which Robert D. Peyton concentrates on restaurant reviews and recipes in New Orleans.

Appetites has just had an entry, for once not on food, but on John Grisham. I would support his view on the novels: A Time to Kill is excellent, The Firm is very good in parts, and the others are not so memorable (I seem to remember getting bored with the denouement always meaning sending someone away on a witness protection programme).

The topic of the article is the conflict between Grisham’s support of a lawsuit against Oliver Stone because a film of his was claimed to have inspired a crime, and the content of some of Grisham’s own novels. This is in the context of a New York Times article on Grisham:

bq. The gist of the NYT article is that Grisham is a lucky guy who eats well, and doesn’t care about the Atkins craze. He writes one book a year, and lives like a king. May we all be so lucky. I found myself admiring the guy for ordering what he wants, for being relatively humble about the source of his success, and for apparently being a mensch in general.

The entry closes with an apology and a link to a source of food blogs:

bq. Anyway, this is hopefully the last non-food related story I’ll write on this website. Apologies to anyone who came here from food porn watch looking for a recipe, or a restaurant review.

Weblogs searched in frames/Weblogs in Frames durchgesucht

As Robin Stocks notes, one doesn’t want one’s weblog to appear within a frame carrying a disclaimer but also advertising for one of the numerous translators’ sites that have become so popular recently.

I don’t know whether these people have really attached my weblog, and Robin’s, and a few others, not all related to language, or if they’ve just linked some kind of search of weblogs.

At all events, there are bits of Javascript and php script out there that can be incorporated in a weblog and break the frame – thanks to Robin, Peter Müller and Clemens Kochinke.

Well, I wrote to tell them to stop, but I have not had a reply yet.

Aufgedunsene Übersetzungen von Flaubert

nachrichten aus absurdistan zitiert drei Übersetzungen ins Deutsche von den ersten zwei Sätzen von “Madame Bovary”, zunehmend länger.

bq. Wir waren im Arbeitssaal, als der Direktor eintrat, ihm folgten ein Neuer
in ziviler Kleidung und ein Schuldiener, der ein großes Pult trug. Wer schlief, wachte auf, und jeder erhob sich, als sei er in seiner Arbeit gestört worden:

Die dritte Übersetzung, von Ernst Sander, ist etwa dreimal so lang und enthält viel mehr Details. Oder gab es eine längere Fassung des Romans in Französischen? Wenn nicht, ist es ehr überraschend.

Die Quelle scheint “Der Rabe 47” (1996) zu sein, aber eine Übersetzung ist von 2003, also kann das nicht stimmen. Dank an Kai Becker von der pt-Liste.

Die englischen Übersetzungen scheinen durchweg kürzer zu sein:

bq. We were at preparation, when the headmaster came in, followed by a new boy dressed in “civvies” and a school servant carrying a big desk. (tr. by Alan Russell)

bq. We were studying when the headmaster came in, followed by a new boy, not yet wearing a school uniform, and a monitor carrying a large desk. (tr. by Mildred Marmur)

bq. We were in the study hall when the headmaster walked in, followed by a new boy not wearing a school uniform, and by a janitor carrying a large desk. (tr. by Lowell Bair)

bq. We were in study-hall when the headmaster entered, followed by a new boy not yet in school uniform and by the handyman carrying a large desk. (tr. by Francis Steegmuller)

Google now searches more words at once

Yesterday I threw some boilerplate into Google. I thought there was a mistake in the text, and this search often finds similar sentences that throw light on the defective text. I put a lot of words in, even though I know Google doesn’t search many. But yesterday, all my words were underlined as a search header!

But I am afraid I didn’t believe it till I read it in Language Log… Google’s ten-word limit has been raised to thirty-two.

Mark Liberman followed this with a report on some problems in Google’s Boolean search, but I’m not going to read about them.

Deutsche Monatsnamen

In einer deutschen Genealogie-FAQ gefunden:

bq. Januar: Hartung, Ianuarius, Jänner, Jenner, Eismonat, Erster Monat
Februar: Hornung, Februarius, Feber, Harnung, Regenmonat, Taumond, Schmelzmond, Narrenmond
März: Lenzing, Martius, Lenzmond, Windmonat, Frühlingsmonat, Merz
April: Ostermond, Aprilis, Grünmonat, Ostermonat, Osteren, Wandelmonat, Apprell, Launing
Mai: Wonnemond, Maius, Wonnemonat, Blütemonat, Blütenmonat, Weidemonat
Juni: Brachmond, Brachet, Iunius, Brachmonat, Wiesenmonat, Rosenmonat
Juli: Heuert, Iulius, Heumonat, Heuet, Heumond
August: Ernting, Augustus, Erntemonat, Hitzmonat, Augst, Augstmonat, Eichelmond
September: Scheiding, Herbstmonat, Fruchtmonat, Herpsten, 7ber, 7bris, VIIber
Oktober: Gilbhard, October, Weinmonat, Wynmonat, 8ber, 8bris, VIIIber
November: Nebelung, Wintermonat, Reifmonat, Nebelmonat, Windmonat, 9ber, 9bris, IXber
Dezember: Christmond, Christmonat, Julmonat, Julmond, Wolfmonat, December, 10ber, 10bris, Xber

Gilbhard indeed!

LATER NOTE: Native American full moon names
According to Wordlab, we have the Full Wolf Moon tomorrow. More names here:

bq. January 25, 5:32 a.m. EST — The Full Wolf Moon. Amid the zero cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. It was also known as the Old Moon or the Moon After Yule. In some tribes this was the Full Snow Moon; most applied that name to the next moon.

It’s very urbanized here in Fürth, but there is some snow on the cars, and a couple of dogs tied up outside the supermarket have been barking.

Heavy metal umlaut

Abnu of Wordlab kindly draws my attention to a Wikipedia article entitled Heavy metal umlaut. This is about gratuitous diacritics in the names of rock bands.

bq. A heavy metal umlaut is an umlaut over letters in the name of a heavy metal band. Umlauts and other diacritics with a blackletter style typeface are a form of foreign branding intended to give a band’s logo a tough Germanic feel. They are also called röckdöts. The heavy metal umlaut is never referred to by the term diaeresis in this usage, nor does it affect the pronunciation of the band’s name.

Many examples and links are given.

bq. David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) in the film This Is Spinal Tap opined, “It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.”