From the Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues

Currently making the rounds at Distributed Proofreaders is Cotgrave’s “Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues“.

– In the category They Have A Word For That?
Empiné: m. ée: f. Turned into a Pine tree.
Dessonger. To breake off sleepe with a snort, or start; to awake out of a dreame, starting.
Ichthyophagie: f. Fish-eating.
Icosaëdre. One of the fiue regular bodies in Geometrie; consists of twentie equiangle triangles.
Cacochymie: f. Euill disgestion; or, ill iuyce in the bodie.
Grumer. To shite grapes; or, to void a dung that shewes the dunguer to haue eaten grapes; (a word applyed most vnto wild Swine.)

– In the category No British Word For.
Estrindore. A kind of Brittish daunce. ¶Rab.

– In the category Ducks.
Estonnez comme canes. Dismayed like so manie Ducks.

– From the category Speak English, Man!
Iargonneur: m. A chatter, gibridgemunger, counterfeit rogue that speakes fustian, or a language whiche either himselfe, or his hearers vnderstands not.

– In the category Proofreader Only Remembered The Definition. Vaguely.
???. a type of play wherein one person gave something into the keeping of another person who then lost it to yet another person through trickerie on behalf of the third person’s part.

– In the category Heed That Second Definition And Its Juxtaposition:
Camisade: f. A cold Pie; also, the thin filme, or skin, which inwraps a child in the bed, or after-birth.
Calamine: f. A certaine yellow minerall substance, which fire consumes, but melts not; mixed with copper, it changes it into a fine brasse, that lookes like gold; also, the heauier foyle of brasse, or copper; which comes of the sparkles, and smoake that arise from the furnace, and cleaue to the roofe, and vpper sides, of the house, wherein it is melted; also, a kind of apple.

And of course, we’re also processing “Queen Anna’s New World of Words”. Again, from the category They Have A Word For That?
Ador[ee]a, the glory and honour belonging to corne in generall.

Furthermore, we’re working on “Etymological Dictionary of the Scots Language”, which has, in the category Words That Need Introducin’ To The English Language:
Constable, s. A large glass, the contents of which he is obliged to drink, who has not drunk as much as the rest of the company.

And finally from the category I Have Seen So Many Of These Things I Forget Which Dictionary This One Is From. The first one doubles in the category Missing The Point By A Continent:
Atheists (if they think there be a God) haue good cause to thanke God, acknowledging his mercie toward them in sparing vs.
Pet de masson. A fart in syrop; the fart that brings durt after it.

Have a nice meal!

Some 1500 proverbs from the French dictionary have been translated in renaissance English at

Kudos to all who posted these at the Distributed Proofreaders “Most amusing (or astonishing) text you’ve come across” forum topic.

First scanned: Noodlot by Couperus

Noodlot, by Louis Couperus (etext #17659), is the first book at Project Gutenberg that I have scanned. The title means “fate”, “destiny”. I have helped produce a lot of books for PG, hundreds probably, but this is the first one that I actually bought in a store or on a market, that I held in my hands, and that has now been digitized completely, so it is a little bit special for me.

I haven’t actually read it, though, so I cannot tell you what it is about. PG has Plain Vanilla Text (PVT) and HTML versions, and undoubtedly websites like Manybooks will have … drats! that’s fast … has it in many more formats.

BUMA/Stemra and Royal Dutch Horeca in tiff over “rights-free” music

The Royal Dutch Horeca (Koninklijke Horeca Nederland, abbreviated to KHN; most links in this entry lead to Dutch web pages) has purchased many hours of music for its members; bars, restaurants, et cetera. This is instrumental music intended for background use, muzak. In doing so they landed themselves in hot water with BUMA (often called BUMA/Stemra), an organisation whose sole purpose is to collect levies from people and organisations who play music in public. BUMA believes that although KHN has bought the rights from the rights holders, KHN still owes BUMA money for playing the music. (Which BUMA presumably would then be paying back after subtracting a modest fee for its own services and those of ms. Britney Spears.)

In The Netherlands, copying and publication are two distinct acts recognized by the law that are the sole province of the copyright holder (usually the publisher, sometimes an author or his heirs). However, getting permission from each copyright holder for all of these acts, sometimes thousands a day for a single person or location, can be quite daunting. This is why most countries that subscribe to rigid copyright laws have some system in place where acts of publication or copying can be performed without the copyright holder’s permission, but with payment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Man, a million years from now

Although I expect to live to see 150, looking a million years ahead is a bit of a stretch even for me. Nevertheless, in the late 1800s it seems to have been quite the sport to do exactly that. (Well, maybe not.)

HG Wells predicted that after a million years, man will have evolved to a creature that is all brain, and little else, swimming in liquid food to sustain himself.

A writer for The St. Louis Republic on the other hand predicted that man will shrink considerably, and dumb down to match. This process, apparently, will start around the year 3000!

[a drawing from Punch]
Future man swimming in pepsine. Source: Punch.

(Hm, I suddenly realize that my colouring is quite caucasiocentric. Here’s how I determined the colour: I looked at my hand. Here’s how I determined the colour of the liquid food: I Google Imaged for pepsine. Not that pepsine is blue, but I found enough evidence to make sure my swimming-pool blue wasn’t entirely impossible.)

On dedications

Herbert George Wells is having trouble writing a book. The book itself is a trifling affair, since it is going to be published by a company that firmly believes in the power of leaf-gold inlays and the accentuating effect of deserts-full of white-space. In other words, the book should write itself.

But the dedication has him stumped. Having tried several approaches, he hits upon the following:

I think it was “X.L.’s” book, Aut Diabolus aut Nihil, that set me upon another line. There is, after all, your reader to consider in these matters, your average middle-class person to impress in some way. They say the creature is a snob, and absolutely devoid of any tinge of humour, and I must confess that I more than half believe it. At any rate, it was that persuasion inspired—

To the Countess of X.,
In Memory of Many Happy Days.

I know no Countess of X., as a matter of fact, but if the public is such an ass as to think better of my work for the suspicion, I do not care how soon I incur it.

Source: Certain Personal Matters by H. G. Wells. I quoted from this book earlier, when it had not been published yet at Project Gutenberg. Via Logiston.

My reply to the EC’s digital libraries plans

I just sent in my reply to the EC’s working paper on Digital Libraries. I was one hour late, so I fear the comfy chair.

H. G. Wells on golfers

These golfers are strange creatures, rabbit-coloured, except that many are bright red about the middle, and they repel and yet are ever attracted by a devil in the shape of a little white ball, which leads them on through toothed briars, sharp furzes, pricking goss, and thorns; cursing the thing, weeping even, and anon laughing at their own foolish rambling; muttering, heeding no one to the right or left of their career,—demented creatures, as though these balls were their souls, that they ever sought to lose, and ever repented losing. And silent, ever at the heel of each, is a familiar spirit, an eerie human hedgehog, all set about with walking-sticks, a thing like a cylindrical umbrella-stand with a hat and boots and a certain suggestion of leg.

H. G. Wells on golfers in “The Amateur Nature-Lover” in Certain Personal Matters, 1901, to appear soon at Project Gutenberg.

Via Odd Ends. interviews is a Russian Project Gutenberg. But instead of limiting itself mostly to public domain books, it publishes a large amount of in-copyright works, even translations of popular modern American novels, with permission from the authors and translators, according to founder and maintainer Maksim Moshkow (Teleread interviews: part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4). has approximately 40,000 books in its catalogue. Is Russian copyright so different, or do Russian authors have a greater desire to be read?

(This entry posted to Slashdot, but rejected.)

My Reading List (A Science-fictiony Christmas)

On May 2, 2103, Elwood Caswell walked rapidly down Broadway with a loaded revolver hidden in his coat pocket. He didn’t want to use the weapon, but feared he might anyhow. This was a justifiable assumption, for Caswell was a homicidal maniac.

Thus begins Robert Sheckley’s Bad Medicine. On December 9, one of the few authors present in Project Gutenberg with copyrighted works, Sheckley passed away at age 77 in Poughkeepsie, USA. The New York Times says in its obituary of Sheckley that he “is considered one of science fiction’s seminal humorists, and a precursor to Douglas Adams”; but “a better comparison might be to Kafka, a fabulist who could never understand why his friends didn’t laugh when he read his stories to them”.

Speaking of lineages: the other day I saw someone observe that Terry Pratchett “must surely have read, and enjoyed, the Kai Lung books by Ernest Bramah“. I am fairly new to Pratchett, but have read enough to feel that checking out Bramah may be worthwhile.

The connection between Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams is of course that of both has been said that they admire(d) P.G. Wodehouse. Adams discovered Sheckley and Wodehouse after he had started his Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, and claimed that the Wodehouse influence must have been immediate when writing The Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy.

(Also posted at Teleread.)

Sans Famille

If you are one of my Dutch readers and would like to help out proofreading for Project Gutenberg, there is now a little project doing the rounds that seems to fit these dark, cold days just nicely: “Alleen op de Wereld” by Hector Malot is currently being processed by Project Gutenberg’s Distributed Proofreaders. Anyone can sign up and correct a page or two.

If you don’t know Alleen op de Wereld (original title: Sans Famille), it is the story of the orphan Remi, who gets bought by the owner of a dog troop, Signor Vitalis. The small troop visit villages in the French countryside where they perform sketches with the dogs as actors. Then Vitalis dies and Remi is left alone with his dogs, with nowhere to go…

(Yes, boohoohoo, now go and proofread.)