language Archive

How to Write Indian Literature

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If you’re studying a nation’s literature, it’s best to know that nation’s language. English literature finds definition in its mother tongue, despite the linguistic leap from Shakespeare to Zadie Smith. American literature, whose myriad dialects are called upon by Walt Whitman, John Ashbery, and Nikki Giovanni, rests comfortably in

The Ploughshares Round-Down: The Calvary Film and the Purpose of Art

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“[T]he barrier between one’s self and one’s knowledge of oneself is high indeed. There are so many things we would rather not know! — James Baldwin John Michael McDonagh’s film Calvary begins with priest Father James (played by Brendan Gleeson) preparing to hear an unseen confessor. The confessor reveals that as

Riding In Cars With Words

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On long car rides with my father, you could count on hearing three questions: What kind of cow is that? What kind of roof is that? Is the moon waxing or waning? My answers were always as follows: a Holstein, a mansard, and waxing? (I never did work out which was which.)

The Elements of Style

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On the first day of class, my ninth grade biology teacher told us the curriculum called for us to learn science from the least abstract level to the most—biology this year, followed by chemistry, physics, and calculus. “Of course, that’s completely bogus,” he said at the end of this

Compassing the Truth: Language in the Historical Novel

Author: | Categories: Writing 3 Comments
Writing a novel set in 17th Century London, I wrestle regularly with understanding my characters’ world. Have I done a good enough job comprehending their relationship to time? To daylight and darkness, to religion and mortality? I worry about getting the physical details of daily life right in the