Saturday November 25, 2006

Linguistic Vignettes

Here are a few sites I've found out about recently, some by email, some by noticing links here via Technorati or Google. They all share a common theme: little vignettes made out of found snatches of language.  Great minds think alike, they say—it must be something in the water.  (There's water in the tubes, right?)

  • American Center for Surreal and Paranoid Life:  Having just finished a summer residency in psychiatry, the author has been posting a series of schizophrenic patients' descriptions of everyday items. Readers then try to guess what's being described in the comments.  The author explains, "I'm working from the hypothesis that schizophrenics, contrary to popular belief, can ultimately be understood by people who are exposed, even breifly, to the schizophrenic's personal language system."  The descriptions and photos are sort of haunting and, I hope, not a violation of any human subjects regulations...

  • eponanonymous:  This is the blog of an artist in New York City.  (They have artists in New York City now, apparently.)  He posts photos of his work, including a series called the Sentence Diagrams.  (Have I mentioned that I love sentence diagrams?  I'm looking forward to reading the book.)  Let's see, if I'm decoding them correctly, the two diagrams he has up are for the following quotations:

    The artist must beware of the literary spirit which so often causes an artwork to deviate from its true path, the concrete study of nature, to lose itself all to long in intangible speculations.  - Paul Cézanne

    A picture is never anything but its own plural description.  - Roland Barthes

  • marginaling:  This blog contains scans of interesting or funny notes taken in linguistics classes, and the author is seeking submissions.  Immortalize your doodle today!

  • Webster's Daily:  Josh, the author of this blog, describes it as, "Found poetry from the first edition of Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1828)."  Here's an example:

    Hope [n.] A sloping plain between ridges of mountains. [Not in use.]

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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Hi Tensor--

Nice decipherin'. Since I've enjoyed some of your recent posts about German, I think you will enjoy this new piece, installed in Marfa, Texas, this fall:

[Update: added a hyperlink to the URL. - The Tensor]

Posted by: eponanonymous at Nov 28, 2006 9:25:56 AM

Thanks for the linkage! EVERYONE SUBMIT TO ME

Posted by: marginaling at Dec 6, 2006 11:37:08 AM


I guess I misunderstood. I thought you were seeking submissions, but apparently you're seeking submission.

Posted by: The Tensor at Dec 7, 2006 3:09:23 AM