Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2011

The Huguenots in North America: A Reading List

This is not an exhaustive list of works by any means. It is a list of books only, and only books in English (there are some helpful ones in French too, though not so much on North America), intended to  provide a comprehensive overview of the Huguenots in North America. My interests in the U.S. and especially South Carolina are reflected here.

These are works that are of particular interest to me in preparation a presentation for the AATF convention in Montreal this summer. My focus, rather than on in-depth historical work, is adapting this material for French pedagogy.

First listed are works specifically about the Huguenots in North America. At the end I have also listed just a few helpful background works on the Huguenots.


Butler, Jon. The Huguenots in America: A Refugee People in New World Society.   Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1983.

Dubose, Samuel, & Frederick A. Porcher. History of the Huguenots of South C…

Today in Language: Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein died on April 29, 1951. He was a linguist's philosopher. In Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus he tackled the limits of language and thought--on what can or cannot be expressed. This had a lot of ramifications for philosophy but also for linguistics, though it is important to note that Wittgenstein overhauled his theory of language later in his career (in spite of his initial confidence in the accuracy and definitiveness of Tractatus).

Nonetheless, Tractatus is an important work, and I for one actually enjoy the rigid structure of numbering every proposition and sub-proposition. It enables the reader to follow Wittgenstein's thought process a bit more, though I still don't understand everything.

The seven key propositions allow one to follow the book's argument, though I leave out proposition 6 here simply because it is not self-explanatory:

1. The world is all that is the case.
2. What is the case--a fact--is the existence of states of affairs.
3. A logica…

Book Review: Fashionable Nonsense

Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont are both physicists teaching in American and European universities. Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science is their translation and adaptation of their French book Impostures intellectuelles.
Sokal and Bricmont take to task eight French theorists for their misuse and abuse of scientific terminology: Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Bruno Latour, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Paul Virilio. They are very careful from the outset to explain that their critiques are not 1) blanket condemnations of these theorists’ work but simply of these theorists’ abuse of natural sciences, particularly physics, or 2) blanket condemnations of the humanities in general (or even poststructuralism or postmodernism). Rather, they simply wish to critique a certain tendency (the misunderstanding and abuse of science) that appears to be the result of postmodernism.
It is both amusing and depressing to read the passages tha…

On Prefacing One's Work, à la Wittgenstein

In his preface to Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein assures his reader that "the truth of the thoughts that are here communicated seems to me unassailable and definite. I therefore believe myself to have found, on all essential points, the final solution of the problems." It sure is nice to know from the outset that a book contains the truth and solves all problems it addresses.

Of course, I have violently ripped the quote out of context and attributed gross intellectual hubris to Wittgenstein. In reality, he was at worst only a bit overconfident and goes on in the next sentence to make an important point about human thought:
If I am not mistaken in this belief [see previous quotation], then the second thing in which the value of this work consists is that it shows how little is achieved when these problems are solved.

Une visite à deux croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud

Lorsque je suis allé à l'église huguenote à Charleston, Caroline du Sud, avec ma femme et notre fils, nous avons décidé de visiter deux croix huguenotes après le culte. Il y'en a six dans l'état, dont quatre aux environs de Charleston et les autres deux croix vers le sud-ouest de la Caroline du Sud.

La seule église huguenote qui reste est celle de Charleston, mais ces six croix  marquent les anciens sites des autres églises françaises de l'état. Des quatre près de Charleston, deux restent sur des terrains privés que nous n'avons pas pu visiter cette fois. Mais les deux autres sont publiques, sur la Rue French Quarter et l'autre vers la petite ville de Monck's Corner.

John 11:25

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live."
イエスは . . . 言われた、「わたしはよみがえりであり、命である。わたしを信じる者は、たとい死んでも生きる。」
Jésus . . . dit : "Je suis la résurrection et la vie. Celui qui croit en moi vivra, quand même il serait mort."
Jesús . . . dijo: "Yo soy la resurrección y la vida. El que cree en mí vivirá, aunque muera."

Today in Language: Shakespeare or Cervantes?

ALERT: This is a long post.
It is with some hesitation that I begin a post that is largely about William Shakespeare. The hesitation does not come from the fact that I am not a Shakespeare specialist, nor really from the fact that I have not read Shakespeare's entire œuvre. You don't have to be an expert on anything to write a blog post, and you don't have to read a writer's entire œuvre to be knowledgeable about that œuvre and its raison d'être.
Okay, let me stop using italicized French words and explain why I'm hesitant to post about Shakespeare: I simply have this nagging thought that Shakespeare, maybe, just possibly, is ever so slightly overrated. And that if I blog about Shakespeare, maybe I'm contributing to keeping him on the mythical pedestal of "Greatest Writer" or at least "Greatest English Writer," titles that to me are meaningless.

There, I said it. Please now excoriate me. In self defense, I will point out that I…

More about the Huguenot Crosses of South Carolina

The six Huguenot crosses in my state are identical (granite, same size) except for the two inscriptions. Each one has an inscription reading something like the following (brackets indicate elements that are absent or different on some crosses):
ERECTED A.D. [Year] BY THE HUGUENOT SOCIETY OF SOUTH CAROLINA [ON THIS GOD'S ACRE.] Each cross also has another inscription that varies a bit more from cross to cross. I visited two of the six crosses earlier this month. The French Quarter, or Oranger Quarter St. Denis, cross was put in place in 1922. The Huguenot church here was built about 1687, or just two years after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, stripping the French Protestants still in France of any remaining religious liberty they had. You can see the first inscription followed by the text of the back inscription in these two photos (click to enlarge and read better):

The St. John's Berkeley cross was put in place in 1928, so its first inscription is identical except for the ye…

Les croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud

Ma source principal pour l'histoire des six croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud, et aussi pour les directions aux sites, c'est un petit livre qui s'intitule The Huguenot Crosses of South Carolina (Les croix huguenotes de la Caroline du Sud).
Ce petit ouvrage (16 pages) de la Société Huguenote de la Caroline du Sud a paru en 2001. Mary LeRoy Upshaw Pike et son époux J. Sanders Pike ont fait tout le travail de faire des cartes des rue principales autour des sites ainsi qu'une courte histoire de chaque croix et la paroisse huguenote qu'elle représente. Le livre coûte $2 (affranchissement non compris) sur le site web de la société.

A Visit to a Couple of South Carolina's Huguenot Crosses

When I visited the annual French service (French liturgy, English sermon) at the Huguenot Church in Charleston, South Carolina, with my wife and son, we took some time afterward to visit two of the six Huguenot crosses in the state. The six crosses stand on the sites of six former Huguenot churches, four in the Charleston area and two in the southern tip of South Carolina. The church in Charleston is the only one still standing. Two of the sites near Charleston are on private property and I wasn't able to schedule visits for the Sunday we were there, but the other two crosses in the area are on public property, in Huger and Monck's Corner, South Carolina.

The first site we visited is on French Quarter Creek Road, and there is a small sign welcoming the visitor to the French Quarter, a small historic area of Huguenot fame. The houses on the road are all modern and, I think, are part of the town of Huger. The granite Huguenot cross here was the second one set up by the Huguenot …

In Defense of Um: Prescriptivism and Disfluencies

I am feeling uninspired this week, with little to say, though I do have a dandy of a post in the works for this Saturday.
When a blogger feels uninspired, I hereby declare that it is a good idea (crutch?) to turn elsewhere. So, in the hope that they will inspire you more than my own discourses could, I direct your attention to an article and a quotation, both about linguistics.
The article is titled "Parents' 'Um's' and 'Uh's' Help Toddlers Learn New Words, Cognitive Scientists Find." How many parents teach their children not to use disfluencies such as "um" or "uh" (which could just as easily be considered expletives, or if we want to be untechnical and not sound smart, fillers)? And yet apparently they help our children in their language development. A reminder to always be moderate in our prescriptivism, a principle also emphasized, but from a different perspective (language change rather than language acquisition), in the …

Help, Linguistics, Questions, and This Blog

I have already posted a couple of requests for help on my fledgling blog. I intend to do more of that in coming months, both through direct requests and at times through more oblique questions on the heels of a linguistic discussion. I will try to make all such posts at least tangentially language-related.

The following are the types of questions I hope to explore in a meandering, drawn-out way, for as long as I keep blogging. Some come from personal experience (practical) while others come from academic study and reflection (theoretical):
What is the best way to teach my children three languages from infancy? How can "best practice" in the field of language pedagogy be identified?What are helpful ways of categorizing linguistics with all of its subfields?What should be the relationship between linguistics and translation studies?Do humans have a language instinct?Does language affect every area of human life? In what ways?What are the true nature and role of mentalese?What ar…

Christian Pragmatics from Titus

Post subtitle: With Special Application to Interaction with CSRs

I heard a sermon on the letter to Titus today, and at the very end Titus 3:2 caught my attention: "always to be gentle toward everyone." That's the NIV. I really like the KJV here too: "shewing all meekness unto all men." This verse caught me because I  had plans afterward to go visit a store to handle some details on my cell phone contract. I got a new contract and smartphone a week and a half ago, and as might be expected from completing the order online, several unpleasant surprises came up over the past week. Now, I don't mind paying my bills; it doesn't frustrate me in the least. Maybe this is weird, but I enjoy paying what I know I owe and receiving what I pay for. This is also my view of taxes, believe it or not. But when I have contractual or performance issues (with my phone, my electricity, my treadmill, my weed eater, my municipal park), I do start to stress a bit. And in regard …

Isaiah 53:7 followed by 1 Peter 2:21b-25

To be read meditatively.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judges righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed. For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
Il a été maltraité et opprimé, et il n'a point ouvert la bouche, semblable à un agneau qu'on mène à la boucherie, à une brebis muette devant ceux qui la tondent ; il n'a point ouvert la bouche. Christ aussi a souffert pour vous, vous la…

My Son's Linguistic Challenge

If my son sees a ball, he says "ball"* (repeatedly). If he sees a 2-dimensional ball on the page of a book, he says, "ball." If he sees the Pepsi logo on a vending machine, he says "ball." If he sees the round plastic buckle on his car seat strap, he says "ball." If he sees anything circular, he says "ball."

The linguistic challenge for my 17-month-old boy? Hyponyms. Or superordinates. Hyponyms are subcategories of a word, more specific than the word itself, which is the superordinate. For example, "bird" is the superordinate (the category) for such animals as crows, hummingbirds, and birds of paradise. For that matter, "animal" is the superordinate for "bird." Conversely, "bird" is a hyponym of "animal," and "crow," "hummingbird," and "bird of paradise" are hyponyms of "bird."

In my son's case, "ball" has become an absolute superordin…

Today in Language: la mort de Sartre

Jean-Paul Sartre est mort le 15 avril, 1980. Où se trouve-t-il dans le cadre de personnages de Huis clos après la mort ? Quel était son plus grand péché pendant la vie ? D'avoir contribué à la philosophie existentialiste ?

April 15 is the anniversary of the death of Jean-Paul Sartre, undoubtedly one of France's and the world's most prominent intellectuals in the mid-20th century.

C'est la crise pour tous !

In advance of tax day in the U.S., here is a bit of French humor. I will translate it some day, when I feel like it.

La crise économique, on en sent toujours les effets :

Les boulangers ont des problèmes croissants.
Chez Renault la direction fait marche arrière, les salariés débrayent.
À EDF les syndicats sont sous tension.
Les bouchers se battent pour défendre leur bifteck.
Les éleveurs de volaille sont les dindons de la farce, ils en ont assez de se faire plumer.
Pour les couvreurs c'est une tuile.
Les menuisiers sont payés avec des chèques en bois.
Les kinés se massent devant les grilles de l'hôpital en revendiquant.
L'on raconte des salades aux épiciers.
Le salaire des coiffeurs frise le ridicule.
Les cyclistes sont mis au régime sans sel.
Les teinturiers meurent à la tâche et sont payés au rabais.
Les faïenciers en ont raz le bol.
Les éleveurs de chiens sont aux abois.
Les brasseurs sont sous pression.
Les cheminots menacent d'occuper les locos ; ils veulent cons…

Book Review: Anthologie de la nouvelle poésie nègre et malgache...

de langue française, il ne faut pas l'oublier. Ces poètes n'ont généralement écrit leur poésie qu'en français.

Je n'ai pas la moindre idée comment écrire un compte-rendu d'une anthologie de poésie. J'aime bien la poésie et j'ai bien aimé la poésie dans ce livre. Mais je pense donner un compte-rendu justement, et non pas une critique puisque je ne sais pas donner un avis sur la poésie. J'ai peur d'en parler comme on parle trop souvent de la traduction, disant que c'est « bon » ou « mauvais » mais sans un système pour l'évaluer d'une manière juste.

LéopoldSédarSenghor a rédigé cette anthologie en 1948. C'était le centenaire de la révolution de 1848 mais aussi une époque très importante (des années 40 aux années 60) pour l'Afrique noire française puisque les colonies françaises commencent à revendiquer plus de droits. Le bouleversement social et politique suit son cours jusqu'à ce que la France accorde l'indépendance à ses col…

A Most Useful Definition

LawrenceVenuti, on page 13 of his book The Translator's Invisibility, gives the following definition of translation:
Translation is a process by which the chain of signifiers that constitutes the foreign text is replaced by a chain of signifiers in the translating language which the translator provides on the strength of an interpretation.
Traduction : La traduction est un processus dans lequel l'enchaînement de signifiants qui constitue le texte étranger est remplacé par un enchaînement de signifiants dans la langue cible que donne le traducteur sur la base d'une interprétation. I like this definition, first, because it assumes the presence of meaning. After completing a master's degree in translation studies, I had been exposed to enough post-structuralism in translation studies and related fields to last a whole academic career. On my M.A. dissertation (a thesis is doctoral in the U.K.), one of my readers even remarked that my analysis of certain theories in relation t…

Huguenot Church

Nous sommes allés à Charleston hier pour participer au culte français de l'église huguenote. C'est la seule église huguenote qui reste en Amérique du Nord et elle n'est plus française. C'est-à-dire que les membres sont américains et très peu parlent français. Mais le pasteur avait invité un ami qui parle français (né d'un père français) et qui a donc pu diriger le culte en français, sauf le sermon. Il a prêché en anglais. Mais j'ai bien aimé la liturgie huguenote ; nous avons récité plusieurs passages et le pasteur invité a lu d'autres passages aussi en français. On n'a chanté qu'un hymne en français (Psaume 89) et les autres étaient en anglais. Mais c'est bien passé avec les chrétiens qui sont pour la plupart descendants des Huguenots. De plus, la ville de Charleston est toujours merveilleuse (et le bébé est fasciné par les chevaux dans la rue !).

We got to go to the annual "French" service at the Huguenot Church in Charleston this pas…

Isaiah 53:3-5 followed by Ephesians 1:3-7

To be read meditatively.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.In whom we have redemption through his blood, t…

Today in Language: Charles Baudelaire

Baudelaire est né le 9 avril, 1821. Tout en affirmant que ce grand poète résiste toute catégorie, on peut reconnaître en même temps que son poème « Correspondances » a beaucoup influencé les poètes symbolistes :
La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.
Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,
Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,
Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

II est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
— Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.


Which word "best" captures the meaning of Lent?

English: Lent, meaning "lenghtening of daylight" (i.e., springtime)
French: Carême, meaning "the 40th day before Easter"
Spanish: Cuaresma, meaning "the 40th day before Easter"
Japanese: 受難節, meaning "time of suffering"

Today in Language: Francis Xavier

Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits and also one of the first missionaries in Japan, was born on April 7, 1506. The statue to the left, in a park in the southern city of Kagoshima, presents a Xavier with decidedly Asian features.

However good/bad Xavier may have been as a missionary and however biblical/unbiblical his theology may have been (and I know little about either), what interests me most is how he fared linguistically in his many countries of ministries.

I have not done much research into Xavier's ministry in Japan but have read that he struggled with the language, at least initially. It is commonly reported that Xavier called Japanese "the devil's language," though I am more than willing to be generous and assume that Xavier overcame that linguistically unintelligible, culturally myopic, and theologically indefensible notion. It is certainly true that many missionaries, in many countries around the world, learning various languages (including Japanese) s…

Huguenot ?

Quelle est l'origine du mot Huguenot ? Comme le mot chrétien, c'était plutôt une insulte au commencement. Bien que nous ne puissions pas en être sûr de l'origine, il se peut que Huguenote vienne du mot allemand eidgenossen, qui veut dire « confédéré ». On peut bien imaginer donc qu'il'y avait des gens qui parlaient un peu injurieusement de « cette petite bande de confédérés, ces Protestants ».

Il me semble que les gens qui parlent anglais pensent parfois que les Huguenots formaient une secte particulière, mais en fait c'était le mot pour parler des Protestants français tout simplement.

Hidden Fortress: More Thoughts

Last week I posted briefly about the Kurosawa film Hidden Fortress. I didn't have time to include the aspect of the film that most provoked reflection on my part, so here goes...

The most interesting thing for me, beyond the perspective of the "two lowliest characters" (inspiration for Star Wars) or the interesting plot or the innovative cinematography, was what influenced Kurosawa to challenge traditional Japanese values. And by "traditional" I mean very traditional, in the sense that a majority of Japanese don't necessarily  share the values today (or even in Kurosawa's day).

Some of the values espoused in Hidden Fortress include kindness to enemies, human equality, and self-sacrifice (even on the part of the most "important" or powerful people). These jarringly confront the traditional Japanese values of, respectively, shame and face-saving, social hierarchy, and sacrifice of "lesser" beings for nobility. I would love to recount eac…