Category Archives: Languaж

How long will it be possible for censoring, dogmatic liberals to celebrate their victory over the censoring, dogmatic church via pornography?

Ugh. Agonizing literary interview.

How long will it be possible for censoring, dogmatic liberals to celebrate their victory over the censoring, dogmatic church via pornography? Isn’t it painfully obvious that the secular religion of post-modernism is guilty of all the same intolerance but without the excuse of being eugenic and civilization building.

Creative writing courses are killing western literature, claims Nobel judge

(off topic)

In an interview with French paper La Croix, Engdahl said that the “professionalisation” of the job of the writer, via grants and financial support, was having a negative effect on literature. “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions,” he told La Croix. “Previously, writers would work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living. Samuel Beckett and many others lived like this. It was hard – but they fed themselves, from a literary perspective.”

Engdahl, who together with his fellow members of the 18-strong academy is preparing to select the winner of this year’s Nobel literature award, and announce the choice on Thursday, 9 October, said it was on “our western side that there is a problem, because when reading many writers from Asia and Africa, one finds a certain liberty again”.


Even though the Iowa Writers’ Workshop made for two of the best years of my life, I agree with his criticism:

“[The system of academic grants] cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions.”

If you don’t have exposure to the market, you don’t have exposure to the real world. The problem is probably exacerbated by academia’s religious devotion to errant ideologies.

“Every man who does not have a trade must eventually become a rogue” ~ Baruch Spinoza

“…as a practitioner, my thinking is rooted in the belief that you cannot go from books to problems, but the reverse, from problems to books.” ~ Nassim Nicholas Taleb

” Learn a trade so that you experience the real world. Identify a problem that exists in the real world. . . . Otherwise you invent a mystical hammer and go on and endless search for the appropriate nails – which you seem to find all over the place.” ~ Curt Doolittle

How Iowa Flattened Literature (???)

What a bunch of incoherent communist poppy-cock!

Since when has academia demonstrated hostility to communism?

“the materialism behind the increasingly sinister Soviet regime.” – wtf???

“the scientific rationality that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki” – ???

“It was a dream that, after 1939, would vanish almost as quickly as Communism in America.” – ???

If the CIA was determined to snuff out post-modernism at the IWW, why were they so eagerly supporting it in the visual arts? (Huffington Post: Modern Art Was CIA Weapon)

Maybe, just maybe, people favoring rational, coherent narratives has little to do with CIA conspiracies, and more to do with them loving the world and their ability to perceive it.

Za Karpatia

5 middle aged women are unloading 18 tons of frozen mushrooms. When they speak amongst themselves I cant understand it.

I asked the apparent leader, the lady with the clipboard, whether the second language on the signs we passed was Romanian or Hungarian. She said it could have been either. Maybe even Moldovan, she added proudly.

Things Ukrainians Say


I think it’s a testimony to the power of Soviet propaganda that I, upon revealing myself as an American, am still occasionally greeted with the joking inquiry:

“Are you a spy?”

The greater the tyranny, the more deeply the perception of enemies must be entrenched in the minds of the masses.



Despite the fact that McDonald’s seems to be thriving, most Ukrainians seem outright paranoid about chemicals in their food.

Recently, a potential landlord assured me that his lease agreement was standard and honest.

“No chemicals in here,” he insisted. (Тут ніякої хімії нема.)

Very cute. :)

and you don’t speak Russian???

I was carrying a plastic bag in addition to my shoulder bag, so I think that helped me look Ukrainian. As is becoming my routine, I worked till 6:30 in the morning, then went to the gym, then went to eat. Mafia, a Japanese & Italian food franchise with good wifi wasn’t opening for another 10 minutes, so I went to the Videnski Bulochky (Viennese Buns) next door. I ordered in Ukrainian and the lady asked me something extensive in Russian.

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand very well,” I said in Ukrainian.

She cocked her head and looked at me like I was teasing her. “You don’t speak Russian?” She asked, eyeing my clothes. I probably looked too modern for her guess that I’d just arrived from some village.

I would like to speak Russian. I studied it for two years in high school, but remember very little. I’m sure I’ll get better the more time I spend in Kyiv. People describe the Ukrainian – Russian divide as a west-east divide, and it is, generally, but it’s just as much a country-city divide. When I visited the Parkhomivka Art Museum in the countryside near Kharkiv, people spoke Ukrainian.

“No,” I said.

“You speak Ukrainian, but don’t understand Russian?”

“Yes,” I said, then, to assuage any belief that I might be teasing her, I added: “I’m from America.”

“You’re from America and you don’t speak Russian, but you speak Ukrainian?” she asked, now smiling.


“I’ve before met anyone from America who speaks Ukrainian, but not Russian.” She confirmed that I wanted the omelet breakfast and asked if I wanted tea or coffee, green or black tea, then lemon or honey.

Good wifi here. :)

Words from my diaspora childhood which haven’t quite worked in Ukraine

Ukraine is a philologists dream. I can think of no other place where language issues play such a prominent role in political debate, personal identity, and culture. Although it isn’t my primary focus here, I can’t stop noticing. (See here, here.)

Here is a list of words which were a normal part of my childhood lexicon as I grew up in New York’s Ukrainian community. Unlike other immigrant communities, the Ukrainian one was separated from its origins by an iron curtain. This provided the language with a greater opportunity to evolve on its own.

None of these words worked as consistently or with the meaning I intended. I’ve gotten different and conflicting explanations for these words — some are attributed to regional dialect, some to antiquated language, and some were completely unknown to my Ukrainian acquaintances.

No doubt some of them are true Ukrainian words and my nationalistic friends will encourage me to continue speaking them until they are restored. Others, rukhanka, koshikivka, probably arose in the diaspora and never had much usage in Ukraine.

Comments are welcome, as I readily admit my lack of expertise for the explanation I give.

зимно – zymno – Cold. Probably regional and/or antiquated. Kholodno seems more common.

горнятко – horniatko – Cup.

грубий – hrubii – I posted about this one before. I thought it meant fat, and it does, but a much more common usage is crude.

кошиківка – koshikivka – The ridiculous term we used for basketball. Polish origin?

копаній мяч / копаного – kopani miach / kopanoho – Ditto for soccer.

зупа – zupa – soup. Commonly used in the west.

руханка – rukhanka – exercise. Literally, the word means movement. Mostly, I’ve been told it’s a ridiculous word. Others have told me it comes from Ternopil or Poland.

вуйко – vuiko – uncle. Slightly antiquated. In eastern Ukraine it seems to be a derogatory term for villagers from the Carpathian Mountains.

курить – kuryt’ – smokes. Not unheard of, but most people say “palyt'” which literally means burns.

папіроси – papyrosy – cigarettes. Most people just pronounce a Ukrainian version of the word cigarette.


Also, torba for bag. Paket is more common, though I think it’s Russian.

Edit 2:

Also, rover for bicycle. Velosoped is much more common.

Edit 3:

Also, Laznychka for bathroom. Toilet is common. One person told me that Laznychka refers to a shower room.

Edit 4:

Also, Naplechnyk for backpack. Ruksak is common.

Also Valiska for suitcase. Sumka is common.

Edit 5:

Words for strawberries and wild strawberries. Trewskavky / Polunytsi / Sunytsi

Edit 6:

Kuzin for cousin. Most people say dvoiu-ridni brat (second-related brother), or dvoiu-ridna sestra (second-related sister).

Sklep or Kramnytsia for store. Most people said Mahazyn.

Edit 7:

Maitsi for underpants. The world makes people laugh — especially after I tell them what it means.

Kupilevi Strij for bathing suit. Again, people have no idea.

Edit 8:

As mentioned in a previous post:
koshykivka” instead of “basketball”
kanapka” instead of “sandvich”
the arcane “lyshcheta” for skies instead of “lyji”


Edit 9: I am relieved to have discovered this comprehensive list on the wonder blog Shadows of a Forgotten World. The burden to capture this anomaly isn’t mine alone. :)


Edit 10: Oh, how could I forget, for “car,” we said “avto” instead of “mashyna.”


Edit 11: For “dishes” or “dinnerware,” we said “nachynnia” instead of the now-popular “posud.”

Also, “vuiko” and “teta” instead of “diad’ko” and “titka.”