Mermaid Mania | Nora Caplan-Bricker

When I told a friend I was writing this essay, she said she’d been hearing a lot about mermaids lately—that mermaids seem to be what vampires were a few years ago. Indeed, the re-release of The Seas follows a merman movie’s triumph at the Oscars—Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water—and the lauded debut of a merman novel, The Pisces by Melissa Broder. “People don’t have sex with sea creatures unless the world has failed them,” Jia Tolentino observed in her New Yorker review of that book. Maybe, in the bright light of so many revelations about how life on dry land fails women in particular, the allure of the aqueous love interest is on the rise.

The Useless French Language and Why We Learn It – Los Angeles Review of Books

the Académie française’s tireless application of French labels to concepts originating elsewhere does speak to a troubling characteristic of modern French culture: not that it can’t produce sufficiently catchy French expressions (“Does anyone really think that French teenagers, per the academy’s diktat, are going to trade out sexting for texto pornographique?” asks Collins), but that so few concepts originate in France in the first place.