Animal Fairm is a 2022 translation into Scots of George Orwell’s classic satire on Stalinist (and in far too many ways, modern conservative) politics and ideology. As the cover of this edition says, it was “translatit intae Scots by Thomas Clark.” I recently purchased the book for my reading entertainment. And quickly discovered it’s so delightful that it makes me want to read more of and learn more about the language. The book is published by Luath Press, in Edinburgh. … click below for more!
Christians pray to Jesus, but get no reply. They pray to Jesus for parking spaces closer to the mall, to win the lottery, to make their boss disappear, to lose weight, to restore Donald Trump to his lost presidency, for their kids to win the little league game, for better business sales, and other really important stuff. And yet nothing ever happens. But would you respond if someone called you by another name? If your name was, say, Bob, or … click below for more!
A Repugnance of Republicans. A Sycophancy of Saundersonites. A Conspiracy of Conservatives. A Misanthropy of MAGA-Hatters. A Cowardice of Councillors. A Laziness of Reporters. A Slyness of Staff. A Corruption of Politicians. A Disingenuity of Candidates. A Fallaciousness of FOX Commentators. A Malice of Mayors. A Lying of Lobbyists. A Bloviation of Bloggers. The Game of Venery is all about coming up with collective (aka corporate or multitude) nouns under which to group animals, people, professions, and things. And the … click below for more!
We recently watched the Darmok episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, my third time seeing it, and I was struck again at how brilliant and quirky it was. Possibly the best of all the ST:NG’s 178 episodes. And, apparently, a lot of other fans agree with my assessment. Wikipedia describes it: The alien species introduced in this episode is noted for speaking in metaphors, such as “Temba, his arms wide”, which are indecipherable to the universal translator normally used … click below for more!
The title is a phrase I encountered while reading Mark Thompson’s excellent book on political rhetoric, Enough Said: What’s Wrong With the Language of Politics? Thompson’s book is both about the current and historic use of political rhetoric (from Aristotle forward), but also about the role of journalists in covering it. Thompson — a former new editor and executive in the BBC and now with the New York Times — maintains we are in “a crisis of political language” that … click below for more!
Ye Olde Shoppe. We’ve all seen the signs like this. Ever wonder why it says “ye” instead of “the”? Me, too, at least way back then. I’ve known the answer a long time now from decades of reading about English, about typography, Chaucer, and about Middle English orthography. Spoiler alert: It was pronounced “the.” Not “ye.” The “ye” was actually spelled “(thorn)e” — thorn was a letter in the Old and Middle English alphabets that stood for “th.” It started … click below for more!
I have recently been reading through the David Crystal anthology of words from Samuel Johnson’s dictionary (Penguin, 2006), attempting to cross-reference it with entries in the Jack Lynch anthology (Levenger Press, 2004), comparing how the two editors chose their selections, and to see how the book designers chose to present them. Yes, I know: reading dictionaries isn’t a common pastime, but if you love words, then you do it. In part, I’m doing so for the sheer delight of the … click below for more!
I have always believed that any good, competent and credible writer can be judged (if judge people we must, and yet we do) by the books on his or her desk. Yes, books: printed hardcopy, paper and ink. I’ll go into why books are vastly superior to online sources a bit later (although I suspect my readers already know why…). Although I am no longer in the media or much of an active writer these days, I believe I can … click below for more!
When a copy of this selection from Samuel Johnson’s famous dictionary arrived last week, I was delighted, and immediately reminded of my late, and well-loved friend, Bill. He would have appreciated the book, chuckled over Johnson’s witty definitions, delighted in the words at play. We would have sat around the kitchen counter, alternately reading random definitions from the book, in between sips of wine. Like every good writer I’ve ever known, Bill loved words, puns, wit, and the interplay of … click below for more!
Mohocks, Samuel Johnson informed us in 1755, was the “name of a cruel nation of America given to ruffians who infested, or rather were imagined to infest, the streets of London.” Moky meant dark, as in weather. Gallimatia was nonsense; talk without meaning. Commination was a threat; a denunciation of punishment, or of vengeance. Tachygraphy was the art of quick writing. Eftsoons meant soon afterwards. Saltinbanco was a quack or a mountebank. A dotard was a man whose age impaired … click below for more!
Did you know that doxastic is a philosophical adjective relating to an individual’s beliefs? Or that doxorubicin was an antibiotic used in treating leukemia? Or that doxy is a 16th century word for mistress and prostitute? That drack is Australian slang for unattractive or dreary? Drabble means to make wet and dirty in muddy water? A downwarp is a broad depression in the earth’s surface? Drail is a weighted fish hook? Dragonnade means quartering troops on a population while dragonet … click below for more!
You don’t expect Wal Mart to be the source for literary tools, but if you amble into the section crammed with toys, you can pick up a set of Rory’s Story Cubes for just $10 (the base set). Now, I realize these are meant as a creative game for children and/or families (marked ages 8+), but they are actually an ingenious little tool for plot development and ideas in storytelling. And for some exercises in creative thinking. Wait, you say: … click below for more!
Can you make sense of those lines in the image to the right? Of course not. They’re deconstructed from the letters of a simple, one-syllable word and randomly re-arranged. It’s just four letters, but their component parts are not arranged in the proper order, so they seem like meaningless lines and squiggles. We’ve not been taught to assemble them into a structure that makes sense to our brains. Yet we’re quite capable of assigning meaning and context to abstract forms, … click below for more!
I recently started reading Malory in the original – that is, the language that Caxton printed in. Not the typeface Caxton used, since that would be harder to read, but rendered in a modern serif face. Caxton initially used black letter type (aka gothic) – pretty much all the early printers used it, although each printer had his own dies and styles. However, he did move to a more easily-read, more-rounded typeface by around 1490, a few years after he … click below for more!