Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Rest in Peace, You Crazy Diamond

Syd Barrett passed away to other universes.

Just today i thought how cool it would be to see the the original four-piece perform the whole of Piper from start to finish.

Well, we’re left with Rockfour now, they do Astronomy Domine and See Emily Play damn well.

Verbed! (UPDATED)

BBC verbed “fileshare”.

It’s not just someone – it’s the BBC.

There are over 800,000 Google results for fileshare. I looked at 30 or so, and didn’t find any that use it as a verb, but rather as a proper name or a technical term (often FileShare).

P.S.: The words verbed and fileshare are not recognized by the spellchecker.

P.S. II: The word spellchecker is recognized by Microsoft’s spellchecker, but not by Blogger’s spell checker.

Oh (edit): Here’s a little song i wrote, influenced by these news and The Sex Pistols.

Is this the MPAA,
Or is this the RIAA,
Or is this the DMCA,
I though it was the UK.


There’s a Canadian guy who traded a paperclip for a two-story house. It looks like a true story. All he needed was a blog and a crazy idea.

There’s an Israeli law school graduate who writes a blog in Hebrew about law, free software and most of all leftist politics (he left Meretz, because Meretz wasn’t left enough for him; pun intended). It’s fine, but not much that you can’t read in Haaretz or Guardian too. He rarely attempts to be funny, but when he does, he’s not bad. He has many readers and is often quoted in Maariv.

There’s an Israeli young lady who writes a blog about her life, her geek pride, software and music she likes. I keep seeing links to her blog everywhere.

There’s an Israeli young man, who writes a blog about his life, his geek pride, software and music he likes and also about politics (a mix of Israeli nationalism, environmentalism and libertarianism) and linguistics. Sometimes he attempts to be funny and occasionally people tell him that he succeeds. And sometimes he has crazy ideas too. That’s me and i have no more than ten readers. It’s not whining and not jealousy; i must be doing something wrong.

Am i writing in the wrong language? Am i unfocused? Do i use the wrong blogging platform?

Any help would be appreciated.

Applied Syntagmatics – Worth Nothing

Disclaimer: Unlike “People Speaking”, “Applied Syntagmatics” entries are not supposed to be funny or enlightening in any way. They are supposed to be a deliberation on linguistics. If you don’t care about linguistics, don’t expect to find them interesting, but they may show a little of what scientific linguistics is about. It’s not rocket science, it’s the way we speak. But then, it may be even harder.

By the way – according to current count, this is the five hundredth entry of Aharoni in Unicode, ya mama.

פ’: “מכונת הקפה הזו אצלנו בחדר-אוכל עולה ארבעים אלף שקל ולא שווה כלום.”

א’: “לא, היא שווה, אבל היא לא שווה ארבעים אלף שקל.”

P.: “The coffee machine at our dining room costs forty thousand shekels and isn’t worth anything.”

A.: “No, it is worth(y), but it isn’t worth forty thousand shekels.”

Oh, the woes of poor Bible translators – they want to translate the holy scripture as closely as possible to the original and it’s quite impossible. I really wanted to write about Hebrew without resorting to English translation, but the translation gave me some more ideas.

Now where do i start?

The English isn’t worth anything is just not the same as the Hebrew לא שווה כלום. Worth vs. שווה deserves a separate discussion – see below, but the anything and כלום are quite different things. When i studied English as a child my Russian teachers had to explain many times that double negation in English is a no-no, and if there already is a no or a not in the sentence, then nothing is replaced by anything. (This whole last sentence was a big linguistic wordplay; i’m not sure that i would understand it myself had i not written it.) In Russian and Hebrew double negation is the norm. But we’ll leave Russian for now.

After all that i wrote until now, it may seem ironic that by itself, the Hebrew word כלום actually means “anything” (according to Even-Shoshan’s dictionary), but in practice it is used in this sense only in classical literature. According to the same dictionary, לא כלום and אין כלום mean “nothing”. Nevertheless, modern Israelis consider the plain כלום to be the word for “nothing” and use it accordingly, often without לא; for example, כלום can be a one-word answer to the question “What did you do in your last miluim (reserve duty)” – “Nothing”. Furthermore, the Hebrew לא שווה כלום is rather more nullifying than the neutral English isn’t worth anything, although i say that as a fluent Hebrew speaker and not so much as an aspiring linguist, so i am careful not to claim that it is a consequence of my earlier statements.

Now, שווה. According to dictionaries, שווה is the Hebrew equivalent of the English preposition “worth”. In modern usage, however, it is also the stand-alone adjective for “worthy”; a particular case of this last meaning is “sexy”, and can be said about both males and females (pronounced shave and shava, spelled the same). But actually this last statement is wrong, because most probably it is not a particular case of the adjectival “worthy”, but rather a euphemizing contraction of שווה זיון, “worth a fuck”.

I am personally familiar with person P. and i know that he is particularly fond of the “sexy” meaning of שווה and often uses it in the more general and clean sense of “beautiful” about women (is that … bidirectional euphemization?). And coffee-machine is female in Hebrew. But instead of making the research easier, these pieces of information actually become the point at which it becomes quite hard to decide which sense came first and which is derived, and by which way. But what is possible is to compare the syntactic structure of the utterances and to sort the usages. With such a small corpus it’s rough and not too scientific, but it’s an easy demonstration of the linguist’s work.

Person P. said: “… costs (עולה‎) 40 kNIS and isn’t worth (שווה) anything“.

Person A. (alright, i) said: “… it is worth(y), but it isn’t worth 40 kNIS“.

“40 kNIS” is the complement of costs in P.’s sentence, and of worth in mine. P. used isn’t worth anything in opposition to costs 40 kNIS; 40 kNIS parallels anything (actually nothing!). Furthermore: Is A.’s It is worth(y) not complemented by anything – or is “complemented” by a so-called zero element?

More stuff to think about – this list is not formulated very precisely and scientifically, but it is supposed to be thought-provoking:

  1. Try to describe the role of the repetition of “forty thousand shekels” as an element that creates opposition.
  2. Notice that the first sentence uses “and” to divide the opposing parts, and the second one uses “but”.
  3. Notice the chiasmus – “forty thousand shekels” comes in the first part of P.’s sentence and in the second part of A.’s.
  4. Is worth really a preposition or a verb – in English and in Hebrew?
  5. שווה is used three times in the dialog – would it be proper to say that these are different usages of the same word, or are those different words altogether?

Actually none of these question has a decisive answer which is accepted by all linguists, especially the last one. In theory the science of Linguistics is supposed to be as precise as Mathematics, but in fact it is much harder. Furthermore, mathematics exists for thousands of years and it’s really very hard to argue about the precision of 2 + 2 = 4, while modern linguistics exists in its present form for about hundred years, and the history of language study is so full of misconceptions, presuppositions and elitist bias (and violence, too) that even today the best scientists get tangled up in words that describe other words.

Well, that’s enough. I hope that everyone understood at least something.

Soviet Antisemitism – a Joke

(I hope you get it.)

A Jew walks into the HR department of a factory in Soviet Union and asks:

— “Do you accept people whose last names have mann to the job?”

— “Ehh … no.”

— “And people whose last names have stein?”

— “No.”

— “And people whose last names have fein?”

— “No.”

— “And people whose last names have ko?”

— “Yes, why not.”

— “Cohen! Come on in, I found you a job.”

Fake-a-breakdown, part II

We kept arguing about places for the wedding and i was ready to give up when suddenly Hadar said that she agrees to go for place A, which is actually called Arca. But she made me promise that i won’t say a word about make-up, DJ, food selection, dress, design, flowers etc.

So on the fourth of October i’m gonnnnnnnnnnnnnna get marrrrrrrrrrried.

A selection of other things, good and bad, that happened on the fourth of October, courtesy of Wikipedia:

  • 1537 – The first complete English-language Bible (the Matthew Bible) is printed, with translations by William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale. Later they are pronounced heretics and burned at stake.
  • 1582 – Pope Gregory XIII implements the Gregorian Calendar. In Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain October 4 of this year is followed directly by October 15. Russia was the last to implement this reform – in 1918.
  • 1957 – Launch of Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth. The Russians came first this time.
  • 1958 – Fifth Republic of France established. It is still antisemitic.
  • 1983 – Hooters restaurant first opened in Clearwater, Florida, United States. Scientology Spiritual Headquarters located in the area reports an unusual surge of positive life theta-energy of the second dynamic.
  • 1988 – U.S. televangelist Jim Bakker indicted for fraud. He got back to business a few years later.
  • 1992 – An El Al Boeing 747-200F crashes into two apartment buildings in Amsterdam, killing 43 including 38 on the ground. More people there kept dying for years from mysterious diseases. El Al was reluctant to disclose the kind of cargo that was on the plane. The black box records the pilot reciting Shma Yisrael moments before the crash.
  • 1993 – Doom press-release version is made available to journalists for review. The amount of time wasted on Doom since then amounts to millions of man-years.
  • 1993 – Russian constitutional crisis of 1993: Russian President Boris Yeltsin orders tanks to storm the Russian parliament building. He said that he was protecting the constitution, which he violated a day earlier.
  • 2001 – A Sibir Airlines Tupolev TU-154 crashes into the Black Sea after being struck by an errant Ukrainian S-200 missile. 78 people are killed, most of the Israelis. Ukrainian defence minister appears a little drunk on TV to explain what happened.
  • 2003 – Maxim restaurant suicide bombing in Haifa, Israel: 21 Israelis, Jews and Arabs, were killed, and 51 others were wounded.


We’re about to make the final decision about the wedding hall. There are two finalists now, let’s call them A and O. The price is the same, and it’s pretty high. A is better designed and maintained and offers a significantly larger selection of quality alcohol. O is closer to the seashore, but its level of design and maintenance resembles that of a fish restaurant in Eilat or Akko, which is not bad by itself, and fits the location, but it doesn’t look like it provides the same bang for the buck as A does.

Obviously i prefer A. Hadar prefers O.

All the lovers have been tagged. I don’t like it, but it really describes the situation quite well.