October 21st, 2004

bear by san

Mon crayon est longe et jaune

My entire academic acquaintanceship with linguistics comes in the form of having been an anthropology and english double major (who left college with some grad credits, but without a degree--yes, I'm one of those people), and who thus could not avoid taking certain courses on language. (The worst of these was a 100's-level linguistics course that I stopped attending after four weeks and managed to pull out a better grade than a friend who went to class--the class was actually successful in removing knowledge from the human brain. The best of these was The History of English [The textbooks were C.M. Millward's wonderful A Biography of the English Language and Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Primer]: I walked away from that one with a working knowledge of OE that allows me to claim it as one of the three languages that I've clean forgotten [the other two are German and French; I've also forgotten katakana, pidgin Spanglish, and the Cyrillic alphabet, and hope someday to add Russian to the list of languages I've forgotten: that seems like a good lifetime goal. {I can, however, still say "Ich habe...kopfschmertzen" in exactly the intonation of the language lab tapes. Astounding what we retain.}])

And I bet you never thought I was gonna get out of those brackets with all my limbs intact.

But I digress.

Anyway, now that I've established my complete lack of credentials to talk about language, I want to talk about linguistic playfullness, and one of the cooler types of linguistic adaptation that I'm witnessing going on as we speak. There's a grand tradition of emphasis in language being denoted through playful misuse and mispronunciation of words--"yer feets too big" "accent on the wrong sylahbul" and so forth--and it's very interesting, to me, to watch that being translated to the chiefly-written communication patterns of teh interweb, as it were.

It's fascinating to watch as this style of communication evolves, as people discover ways of indicating emphasis and emotion, of broadening the level of information available for parsing through the critically limited interface of text. It's a little humbling, too--from the cheerful misappropriation of hakspek and its intentional opacities to the repurposing of careless typos (teh hott!!!1!!!1) and intentional mis-spellings (weerd!)--it's deeply gratifying for me, at least, to watch human adaptability in action.

It's not *new,* by any means, this kind of playfullness ("We have met the enemy and he is us," after all, and there are some pretty terrible puns in Chaucer), but it's new, I think, the level of semantic packing that we're learning to incorporate in--typewritten!--textual communication. There's an odd level on which it makes me think of calligraphy as high art, especially in the Chinese tradition--but on a much more practical level.

We is the talking animal, baybie. And people is neat.
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bear by san

High-roast duck, and catstabbing^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hwaxing.

I am virtuous. Yes, yes I am. Today I have: done dishes, done laundry, watched and nodded knowingly while my father-in-law fixed the kitchen sink, scrubbed off the stove, gone to work, gone grocery shopping, changed the litterbox, stabbed the cat (150 ccs! yay!), taken the dog to the vet, edited an article, packaged up a short story to send to Asimov's, done my contracts for SCIFICTION, put dinner in the oven, and written...

...exactly zero words.

Ah, well. At least the cat is waxed to a fine high-gloss shine.

I do need to get cracking on some short fiction, though; I have all these sad little stories sitting there begging for me to care about them enough to get them written, and every time I pick one up and thump it, the bloody thing just isn't ripe yet. So I'm reading The Unstrung Harp instead, because it makes me feel better.

So, since I haven't written anything today, I think I'll tell you about the duck recipe.

It started off as a chicken recipe, cadged from an issue of Cook's Illustrated three or four years ago. What you do is you brine a duck. After you have brined the duck and dried it, you butterfly it. If you are too squeamish to butterfly the duck, don't bother getting the butcher to do it, because you're also too squeamish for the part where you have to wedge your hand in between the duck's breast and the skin and rub the meat with herbs and garlic, so you might as well skip the whole recipe. (If you are doing this with a chicken, make the herbs and garlic into a paste with some butter, because chicken will dry out otherwise. Duck has enough fat to keep itself happy. The salt can go on the skin, though; that's fine.)

The seasonings have to go under the skin, because the critter gets cooked at 500 degrees, and if they're not under the skin, they burn. The bird has to be butterflied, because otherwise some parts burn and others are raw.

Then you get a broiler pan and line it with nonstick tinfoil (this stuff is bourgeois, but damn, it works). Then you slice three baking potatoes about a quarter of an inch thick, and lay them out so they cover the whole surface of the tinfoil.

The potatoes are necessary; they buffer the grease in the broiler pan and keep the kitchen from catching on fire.

Then you put the top grille portion of the broiler pan on over the potatoes, and put the duck on top of everything, laid out as flat as possible (break the ribcage, and fold the wings under themselves so the tips don't burn) and put it in a 500 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, depending on the size of your duck. The potatoes are retrieved from the dripping pan, drained onto paper towels, and the entirety is consumed with savage glee.

I also made a cherry/blueberry/cranberry red wine & balsamic vinegar sauce to go with it.

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