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history, linguistics, literature

Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature

Dragon-like figures feature prominently in folklore from around the world. They often hold---or once held---special significance to their respective cultures. Chinese dragons historically symbolized good luck and imperial power, and were used in iconography surrounding the emperor. The founder of the Han dynasty went so far as to claim that his mother dreamt of a… Continue reading Dragons and Sin in Medieval Germanic Literature

linguistics, literature

Dialects in Literature: A Look at Robert Burns

It's a song commonly played to ring in the New Year, bidding farewell to the old. Across the English-speaking world, it's used for graduations, for funerals, for any major transitional period in one's life. As a result, pretty much everyone is familiar with the tune. But growing up, I never knew anyone who was actually… Continue reading Dialects in Literature: A Look at Robert Burns

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The Practicalities of Learning Languages

Damien Concordel is a French-born author, blogger and language coach, fluent in 5 languages and communicating in a 6th. In this post he shares what he's discovered are the very practical aspects of how best to learn and practice a language. Original post In my previous post on this topic I laid out my credentials… Continue reading The Practicalities of Learning Languages

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Storytelling in Iceland – Prose And Verse at the Heart of a Nation

Today, Iceland is a massively literate country, the most literate in the world, and authors and writers are celebrities. Almost everyone in Iceland is a writer, and many Icelanders will publish a book at some point in their lives. It’s something in the blood, I think, as well as something in the culture, and in the spring water.

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Stuck in the Middle with Romans

Before we go spelunking into history, a little background: I have a middle grade time travel adventure book called The Eye of Ra, in which the main characters, John and Sarah, find themselves in ancient Egypt. For the next book we’re scheming, my boys and I did some brainstorming around a story “with swords.” I… Continue reading Stuck in the Middle with Romans

history, literature

History through Poems: Examining Beowulf

Epic poems have incredible staying power both as literary achievements and as historical resources. The Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf is one of the foremost examples of this. Despite its mythological themes, the story offers historians a rare insight into Anglo-Saxon ideals of masculinity, heroism, and society. At the same time, it presents literary scholars with a… Continue reading History through Poems: Examining Beowulf

culture, history

A Brief History of Fraktur

𝕻𝖔𝖕 𝖖𝖚𝖎𝖟: 𝖜𝖍𝖆𝖙 𝖎𝖘 𝖙𝖍𝖊 𝖓𝖆𝖒𝖊 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖍𝖎𝖘 𝖋𝖔𝖓𝖙? At first glance, many folks in the English-speaking world would probably call it "Old English," but that name isn't really accurate—the Old English language predates this style by a few centuries, and the calligraphic hands used to write Old English were entirely different. Its real name… Continue reading A Brief History of Fraktur