04 November 2009

Vexillology, Linguistics & Other Matters

the ragbag | raynor | the flag for constructed languages

While the ziggurat/devo hat icon is totally badass and the colour fills a conspicuous void of purple among flags of the world, i find it kind of ridiculous that a concept this abstract [constructed languages] merits its own flag. where is the flag for binomial nomenclature? what colour is the flag of trigonometric functions? who gets to fly the trochaic pentameter flag?
Send out the call to the finest vexillolographers in the land! New flags are needed for abstract concepts forthwith!

For the record: Wikipedia has the flags of Francophonie, Hispanicity, and Esperanto. To me they look like the banners of a UN Commission on Hugs and Feel Goodery, a Sovereign Military and Religious Order of the Unspecified Near East and a Miscellaneous Bush-League African Military Despotism, respectively.

You are all commended to read Raynor's musings on a regular basis. He is a gentleman and a scholar. Recently he has asked good questions about sausages, and told haunting tales about Halloween.

Here are the most popular posts from the Ragbag. I can particularly commend the most recent three of those, as this one makes two visual references to my new favorite televised comedy, How I Met Your Mother, one is an excellent elucidation of the differences between Arial and Helvetica, and one has a "fairly exhaustive" list of literary eponymous adjectives.

Side note on vexillology: How do you remember vexillology is related to flags? Just remember your Dante. The beginning of Inferno's Canto XXXIV is "Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni," or "Forth come the banners of the King of Hell," which I've always found to be a satisfying thing to mutter under your breath when some poobah who is not to your liking approaches. To be sure, a somewhat arrogant thing to mutter, in an over-educated way, but satisfying nonetheless.

PS The above bit of Dante also appears in either Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz or its sequel Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman, I can't remember which. The first of those is probably my favorite post-nuclear war novel, though if you asked me on another day I might answer Alas, Babylon. The former is more interesting thematically, but the latter has the hands-on details that remind me of Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe, two childhood favorites.


  1. Saint Lebowitz was a terrible book. I loved the first one, but the second one had me bored to tears almost instantly. I might nominate Z for Zacheriah as my favorite post-nuke, but it's a bit too YA to be taken seriously. I think I'd have to go with The Postman, by David Brin. (Canticle and Alas, Babylon are both excellent choices, though.)

  2. The Latin and English appear together in Canticle, but the sequel reders the English without the original. It appears that Miller loves the saying as much as you do. It was in searching for the reference (wondering "which poet said that") that I found this page, which is a Page 1 hit on Google for that quote.