marktwain

A well kept secret: Mark Twain’s hidden love for the German language

I am sure most people who are passionate about literature are aware of Mark Twain‘s infamous essay “The Awful German Language“. In his writing, Twain selects a few examples which underline German’s illogical features, one of them being a neutral gender for the article which goes before “young lady” (“das Mädchen“) and the female article…

switzerland

Is there such thing as Swiss Literature?

Of course there is. But we cannot ignore the diversity that constitutes Switzerland and the fact that somehow the definition of national literature is always going to be challenged. Yes, we can define “Swiss Literature” whatever is created, written and printed in the country of Switzerland, but then it comes to other fundamental aspects as…

scandinavian

Nordic and Scandinavian literature: the brighter side of it

Britain’s obsession with Scandinavian crime fiction shows no signs of stopping. On television, “The Killing” and “The Bridge” have rapidly gained an ever-growing number of viewers. When did this all begin? Perhaps we can trace it back to the best-selling release of Stieg Larsson’s “The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo” as a book and later…

french

Excuse-moi? – The French words you just cannot translate

What does “Ennui” mean? Or “Chinoiserie“? It could happen that, on any sort of situation, one happens to cross a word so difficult to translate that the only way to actually succeed is to use more than one single equivalent word. A while ago, the Bright Old Oak researched and presented those words in Finnish…

esperanto

Can Esperanto literature be defined as niche literature?

Yes and no. Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof came up with the idea of constructing a language in the 1870s and saw his work published in the following decade. The aim of his research was that of founding a new International language which would be easier to understand and learn (he thought the English grammar was too complex)…

gender

Battle of the sexes and language: when words have a gender

The decision to turn professor titles from male to female at the University of Leipzig is now causing major controversy. Apparently, Physics professor Dr. Josef Käs came up with the proposal as a joke, but soon saw his own idea taken seriously by the University board: now all teaching members at the University of Leipzig…

america

Overseas and beyond: Italian authors and the American charm

Italian literature is thousands of years old. Not much younger was it when, in the 1930s, Italian authors and translators started looking a bit farther to find inspiration. American literature was a young creature, promising, rough and so contemporary. In an age of avant-gardism and interest for the future, they thought Italy needed some fresh…