A Divine Comedy We Can Feel in the Pulse

Feb 14, 2023 439

BY: Jason M. Baxter

English is a wonderfully weird language with a huge vocabulary, but one with distinct “registers.” I am currently in the process of translating Dante’s Comedyand this is the central insight guiding my work: We have a split-level language. This is because our language has both Latin and Anglo-Saxon influences.

In English, anytime we want to use abstract terms, we draw on our Latinate heritage. Meanwhile, our Anglo-Saxon inheritance provides all those one-word, sometimes crude terms for bodily sensations and everyday lived experiences, like the names of kitchen utensils (spoonknifebowl) and family members (babycousinkinsfolk). 

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SOURCE: https://www.firstthings.com

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