Nathaniel Rich on Language

Topic: Nathaniel Rich on Language

Nathaniel Rich: When I was living, that summer, in Italy-- before going to Trieste I was living in Milan for six weeks, and I moved- I moved in a-- I was working at a publishing house as an intern in- in Milan, and I moved in with a colleague at the office who invited me. I really didn’t have a place to stay, and he said I could stay at his house. And I didn’t really know what the terms would be, but I needed a place to stay. So I ended up sleeping on his fold-out chair in his living room, but he <inaudible>- he didn’t- he didn’t want anything from me; he was being a very generous guy, and we became friends, and we had a lot of shared interests. He was an editor at this pub- a young editor at this publishing house, and he couldn’t speak English very well but always wanted to practice his English. And I couldn’t speak Italian that well, but I always wanted to practice my Italian. So we would have conversations in which he would try to speak English and then I would try to speak Italian or I would try to speak back in a king of Pidgin English- dumbed-down English so that I- I was not really speaking either language, and he was neither speaking- speaking either language. And we didn’t really know what each other way saying at all, but we felt like we really sort of got it in some way, and- and we would, you know, tell jokes and- and tell stories, and- and we felt like we got along really well. And- but we were never really sure probably on a deeper level if we- what we were saying made any sense. And that- that kind of- that informed a lot of the book and that- that’s- that for me was a- dramatized what is in the- kind- thing I encounter a lot in my life, which is just inarticulacy <laugh> and trying to speak to other people and trying to- people trying to relate to each other and communicate and- and the ways in which they’re constantly thwarted by language and- and sentences and words and how language, you know, complicates and distorts real sentiment and real feelings. And yet, there’s the deep human desire to nevertheless reach out to other people and communicate, and the tension between those things was fascinating to me and that’s a motif or idea that I- I think is- is there in every page of the book. For me, that’s a big part of what the book is about.

 

Recorded On: 3/17/08

The crucial role of miscommunication.

1 in 100 water molecules started in solar nebulae

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Elon Musk's SpaceX approved to launch 7,518 Starlink satellites into orbit

SpaceX plans to launch about 12,000 internet-providing satellites into orbit over the next six years.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX plans to launch 1,600 satellites over the next few years, and to complete its full network over the next six.
  • Blanketing the globe with wireless internet-providing satellites could have big implications for financial institutions and people in rural areas.
  • Some are concerned about the proliferation of space debris in Earth's orbit.
Keep reading Show less