L’alfabeto runico

L’alfabeto runico, le cui prime attestazioni risalgono al II secolo d.C., era un alfabeto segnico composto, appunto, dai segni che venivano incisi sui bastoncini tratti dal ramo di un albero durante i rituali magici praticati dai Germani. Questo alfabeto era definito fuþark, dalla sequenza dei primi 6 segni che lo compongono (*Fehu, *Uruz, *Þurisaz, *Ansuz, *Raido, *Kanuan). […]

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A Decoder for Financial Illiterates

Do you know the difference between “fiscal” and “monetary”? Don’t feel bad. Neither did the British writer John Lanchester when he began work a decade or so ago on “Capital,” his sweeping novel about contemporary London. To his annoyance, he realized that he lacked even the rudimentary vocabulary to write about one of the great forces driving […]

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Translation as a Performing Art

Thirty years ago I moved to Milan to work for an Italian art magazine called FMR. It was an odd and ambitious enterprise: FMR started publishing in the United States a year later with the slogan “the most beautiful magazine in the world.” The offices hardly seemed like offices at all: they were located in […]

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Durita Dahl Djurhuus: I was scolded for talking Faroese to another girl at nursery and told to speak in Danish Photograph: Durita Dahl Djurhuus

Three European languages that you didn’t know existed

What makes linguistic diversity special? Speakers of vulnerable and endangered languages share their stories Globalisation and cultural homogenisation mean that many of the world’s languages are in danger of vanishing. UNESCO has identified 150 European languages which it considers are either vulnerable or endangered. We talk to speakers of these lesser-known languages – from Faroese to Pite […]

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Lord Ashdown

Paddy Ashdown: ‘Learning six languages has changed my life’

From speaking Malay as a young marine, to offending his Chinese teacher with unfortunate translations, Paddy shares the twists and turns of his language adventures When people ask how many languages I speak, I reply I have forgotten six. That’s the problem with languages: if you don’t use them you lose them. But a little […]

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