Two Black Amazons from 1400s

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Thumbs Up

Oh, goodness! An illumination from a 15th-century French manuscript shows two black Amazons. Have a look:

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2R; via discarding images on Tumblr.

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r; via discarding images on Tumblr.

This image has clearly been cropped and edited. My source, discarding images on Tumblr, says the two women are Amazons but gives no more details.

Being an early history nerd, I did some additional digging. Below is the whole page via Gallica, the digital library for the national library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, or BnF).

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle fol 2r Full Page

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r.

The full title of the manuscript is Le secret de l’histoire naturelle contenant les merveilles et choses mémorables du monde. It was created between 1401-1500, and is currently stored at BnF. The illumination comes from the first part of the book, which presents the great countries and the great provinces of the old world.

Unfortunately, my French isn’t good enough anymore to be confident in my reading; I can understand a word here and there, but not the whole. However, it does look like the first word below the illumination is Amazon.

I’ve cropped into a separate image the bottom left corner of the illumination with the text following immediately after it:

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle fol 2r Amazons

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r; cropped.

I just cannot make out the full spelling of the first word due to the ligatures that squish up the last two or three letters. It definitely looks like it’s inflected, though. The sequence ma definitely follows the capital A, with most likely a z and o further along.

It also looks there’s a sigil marking an abbreviation on top of the o, which was very common in handwritten Medieval documents to mark inflectional endings, among others. (Unless it’s a diacritic like in modern French – were they even used in Medieval French? If so, maybe Amazonye? Amazònye? Amazónye?? Amazônye???)

Anyway, it seems that Amazons are indeed talked about on the same page. The larger block of text above the illumination mentions the word affricà, too. (Again, not sure whether that’s a sigil or diacritic on the final a.)

In any case, if the two women aren’t Amazons, at the very least they are heralds of some sort leading a column of warriors. The image details, like the mi-parti dresses, are really neat, too.

Found via MedievalPOC on Tumblr.

And speaking of MedievalPOC, I’ve found it a truly valuable source for types of art imagery that’s not usually included in the canon from the Middle Ages onwards. The site is sometimes a little too interesting: on several occasions, I’ve spent much longer than intended there, happily chasing intriguing details down the rabbit hole. If you’ve got the time to spare, I wholeheartedly recommend it. 🙂

P.S. You can also follow MedievalPOC on Twitter. Happy browsing!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Jenkins’s Wonder Woman Movie Inspired Vocabulary Change in ASL

Geek out!, Stunt Double, Thumbs Up

Apparently, there’s been a vocabulary change in American sign language (ASL) because of the Wonder Woman movie. The 6-panel gif below shows an exchange between an ASL-using audience member and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.

Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment1Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment2Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment3Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment4Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment5Jenkins Wonder Woman ASL Comment6

[audience member in ASL] “In the 1970s, when you have Lynda Carter, I was a little girl and I would copy it and I would sign like this.” [shows the old Wonder Woman sign that involves multiple segments]

[in ASL] “However today, because of this film, we have changed it for this.” [crosses her arms like Wonder Woman in the movie]

[Patty Jenkins, delighted] “Wow!”

[in ASL] “So these little deaf girls are signing now ‘Wonder Woman’.”

[in ASL] “And when I grew up we were doing the multiple signs, so thank you. Thank you!” [applauds in sign language]

[Patty Jenkins] “Wow! That’s so cool! That’s so cool! That’s awesome! Thank you! That is amazing!”

Wonder Woman interview with Patty Jenkins, Connie Nielsen and Lucy Davis at the Apple SoHo, August 23, 2017.

Yay & wow! To have changed language with your work really is awesome. 🙂

Found via I Bought the Airline on Tumblr.

Cell Phone with Jesus Rays

Arts & Crafts, Geek out!, My Spaces

Some time ago, I drew a simple cartoony sun with a smiley face for A Thing. It sat for a long time on my desk, covered by whatever I was working for afterwards, until I cleaned my office. The other day I happened to set down my phone on top of the sun just in the right spot to make the phone have jesus rays. 🙂

Cell Phone Sun

And, being a linguist and a non-native English-speaker, I had to check whether there are any other terms for the phenomenon, since jesus rays is the only phrase I know. Apparently jesus rays are more scientifically known as crepuscular rays. Crepuscular (from Lat. crepusculum ‘twilight’) is a reference to twilight hours when these rays often occur.

The intriguing thing is that there are also anticrepuscular rays or rays that seem to converge from an antisolar point, for example the horizon opposite a sunset.

Isn’t the world just amazing?

 

 

Eurovision Song Contest Leads to Translation Spree

DIY, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Last weekend’s Eurovision Song Contest got me to do two things I’ve been putting off too long: I’ve updated my Eurovision playlists on YouTube, and started on refreshing my Swedish skills. Today I’ll talk about the latter in light of the former. But first, the song that combines the two.

Pernilla Karlsson – “När Jag Blundar” (Finland) via escDjpo2012

Eurovision 2012 contestant from Finland; written and composed by Jonas Karlsson, performed by Pernilla Karlsson

Adding to My Textile Vocabulary

Fabrics & Materials, Leveling Up

Because I trained back home in Finland, I learned my sewing terminology in Finnish. Already before I moved to the U.S., I picked up a lot of English vocabulary from my hobby sewing. My favorites were earlier historical eras, though, which resulted in a curious melange of terms and terminology.

Nowadays whenever I make construction notes on my projects they usually end up a mix of Finnish and English terms and abbreviations, even though I try to stick with one language only.

Terminology Resources

To keep adding to my English vocabulary, I draw from both physical and online resources. I read guidebooks and keep binders where I file tearaways and printouts. I’ve also started bookmarking online resources.

Below are some sites I’ve found useful for learning the terminology for various aspects of textile work.

Do you have favorites you’d like to add?

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

21 SF/F Authors Project, Book 4: Herland

Books & Mags

Book number four in my latest reading project is Herland by Charlotte Gilman Perkins, published a hundred years ago in 1915.

21 Authors Herland

When selecting this book, I somehow missed that it was the middle part of a trilogy. That turned out not to be a problem, though, for apparently the first book (Moving the Mountain) and this one have no common characters at all. Being the middle book would also explain why Herland ends so abruptly.

The story is told from the perspective of a young American, “Van” Jennings. He leaves with two friends, Terry and Jeff, on an expedition to an uncharted land where, according to rumor, only women live. The men first boat upriver and then fly to the unreachable plateau on Terry’s plane, land successfully, and start their exploration on foot, only to be caught and imprisoned by the inhabitants. The men are allowed increasing amounts of liberty, and after some language tutoring, they start making sense of their new home.

Most of the short book consists of various descriptions of this utopian land, either the men’s observations or discussions with the women. It turns out that women have, indeed, been its only inhabitants for some two thousand years. After losing their men in a civil war following a catastrophe, they’ve been able to survive through some mysterious sort of parthenogenesis, first in one woman only, then only in her five daughters and their five daughters; eventually all women in Herland could reproduce should they want to (“When a woman chose to be a mother, she allowed the child-longing to grow within her till it worked its natural miracle.”).

Eventually, after a year or so in Herland, the men arrange a triple wedding, mashing up their customs with the women’s, to accommodate the women’s wish to return to a bi-sex community and their own love for the three girls they first met upon arrival. Soon after, Terry is expelled due to a botched rape attempt. Jeff is at this point deeply in love with his wife Celis and decides to stay permanently, but Van, accompanied with his wife Ellador, leaves with Terry.

In a weird way, some of Perkins’s vocabulary reminded me of Anglo-Saxon compounds like war-terror (wīggryre), spear-bold (gārcēne = ‘brave’) or spear-warrior (gārwiga) in Beowulf. She mostly used them in contexts to do with gender relations and reproduction, like child-longing in the quote above or sex-love and sex-feeling. Perkins has been criticised for racism and praise of eugenics, and there are instances in the book that stick out (e.g. “these people were of Aryan stock”). Both these features turn the reading experience into a more dated one than it otherwise would be.

As I’m generally not big on utopian or dystopian worlds, and as there’s nothing in Herland that would make me want to continue reading the last part of the trilogy (With Her in Ourland), this will most likely remain my only encounter with Perkins.

P.S. Find all posts in the project with the 21 authors tag.

21 SF/F Authors Project, Book 2: The Last Man

Books & Mags

Book number two in my latest reading project is The Last Man by Mary Shelley. By far best known for her 1818 novel Frankenstein, Shelley originally published The Last Man in 1826.

21 Authors The Last Man

The Last Man is often described as apocalyptic science fiction, as the world is ravaged by a terrible plague. I think I’d prefer to call it speculative than science fiction, maybe, for there aren’t that many scientific elements in the book. She did envision long-distance travel with balloons with feathered wings, though, plus mysterious sightings of a black sun and three other suns in the sky in addition to our regular sun, but those might more properly belong to a mythical than scientific realm. Also, with regard to infrastructure, social interactions and food and commodities production, the society is basically the late Regency to early Victorian England that Shelley intimately knew.

Anyway. The novel follows the life of our protagonist, Lionel Verney, and his close circle of friends and family from 2070s to the end of the century; indeed, it ends at the beginning of year 2100.

The story is divided into three books. The first book describes the early stages of Lionel’s life, the middle one is where the plague starts gathering steam and the last book is where Lionel becomes the eponymous man.

The novel’s outlook is very grim, especially in book three where people drop off like flies. Lionel is the only person who catches the plague and survives; everyone else dies (but mostly discreetly like polite society requires). There’s a glimmer of hope at the end, though: on the last pages, Lionel makes plans to sail a small boat around Africa towards the Indian Ocean in search of other survivors (not forgetting a dog; you gotta have a goggie).

An intriguing tidbit that jumped at me: Shelley uses the word terrorist with the meaning of ‘someone who is terrified’:

“As I advanced I met knots of country-people talking earnestly of this event: distant as they were from the apprehended contagion, fear was impressed on every countenance. I passed by a group of these terrorists, in a lane in the direct road to the hut. One of them stopped me, and, conjecturing that I was ignorant of the circumstance, told me not to go on, for that an infected person lay but at a short distance.” (book 2, chapter 7)

I’m not big on dystopias, so I had difficulties motivating myself to get back to The Last Man. Also, Jane Austen may have ruined Regency / Victorian writing for me; others simply pale in comparison to her skill. Nevertheless, the novel is well crafted, taking into consideration changes in language and pacing. (There’s no escaping the fact that a lot of Shelley’s vocabulary sounds stuffy and pedantic today, and long monologues are also out of vogue.) Psychological tension, especially, increases steadily from book to book. In book one, you’d have a hard time guessing the story is apocalyptic; in book three, the stress and hopelessness are palpable as the troupe of surviviors, already small at the beginning of their journey and diminishing almost with every step, makes their way from France to Switzerland. Shelley clearly has literary chops; I’m very curious of what she would write had she lived in our day and age.

A free e-version of The Last Man is available on Project Gutenberg.

P.S. Find all posts in the project with the 21 authors tag.

Online Finds: Geeky Sewing Machine Diagram

Arts & Crafts, Geek out!, Thumbs Up

Growing up in Finland, I learned my sewing-and-related vocabulary in Finnish, of course. Since then, I’ve amassed an almost as comprehensive vocab in English and even a smattering in Swedish.

Words for sewing machine parts seem the most difficult for me. Even though I’ve studied my machine manual, I have a hard time remembering the English terminology. (The Finnish ones tend to surface a lot.) If only this brilliant, geeky sewing machine diagram were more widely known, I might have a better chance!

Zazzle Regretsy Sewing Machine Print

Poster by Regretsy at Zazzle.

Poster by Regretsy at Zazzle.

Hoo-ha is so much more onomatopoeic than Reverse Stitch Lever. My machine doesn’t have arc reactors nearly as cool, though.

Got favorite terms? Mine are either bobbinator or uppydowny. 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

What the Smegging Smeg?

Geek out!, Movies & TV

Every now and then I come across an image of a kitchen with a Smeg fridge:

Smeg FAB5URR

Smeg USA.

Is it just me, or does anyone else have this immediate reaction?

What the Smegging Smeg

Referring, of course, to the one, the only Red Dwarf.

Red Dwarf 1600x1200Cockpit

Red Dwarf Official website.

In all seriousness, it has to be challenging to invent a vocabulary for your imaginary world (or name a product line) when humanity has never before published as much or as internationally as we do nowadays. The chance of constructing something odd or offputting in some language or subculture has gone way up, and that’s not even taking into account semantic change. Just consider this tweet by Mary Robinette Kowal on researching historically appropriate vocabulary for her Glamourist Histories series:

On the other hand, that’s the delight of living languages – they keep evolving. We wouldn’t be here if they didn’t.

❤ languages! 🙂

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a funny thing.