Aptos vs Calibri

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Did you notice the change? Microsoft has made the typeface Aptos the new default for its Office programs, replacing the venerable Calibri after 17 years. Aptos has been rolled out to users since December, 2023, and, at least for me, finally made it to my versions of Office in February. I. like so many others, didn’t notice it right away. I do a lot of my writing online, like this blog, where other typefaces are used. I only twigged onto the change last week when … click below for more ↓

Musings on Grammar, Usage, and Garner’s

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Be honest with me: how serious are you about the serial comma? Do you wade into discussions on language forums and social media brandishing citations from your favourite authorities? Do you dismiss dissenting authorities as heretics? Are there style and usage guides on your bookshelf with sticky notes and bookmarks in them so you can immediately find your references should anyone post a contrary opinion? Do you haughtily refer to it as the Oxford comma instead of the serial — or, the gods of language … click below for more ↓

Reading the Iliad

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There was a moment when I was reading The Iliad that I thought to myself, “This is it. This is what the epic is really all about.” Somehow it all seemed to come down to one particular scene and all the rest was just leading up to it. Why I had that epiphany, I’ll explain in due course. But what struck me is that the real message of this epic poem was almost hidden by all the thousands of lines that came before it. I … click below for more ↓

Homer’s Odyssey Revisited

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Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Thus begins the 1897 translation by Samuel Butler of Homer’s Odyssey. It’s just one of more than 60 translations of the book into English since the first in 1615, including one by T.E. Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) in 1932. Odysseus — Ulysses in the Latin form — mythical king of Ithaca, is a complex protagonist; sometimes hero, sometimes villain, sometimes noble, other … click below for more ↓

Reading Animal Fairm

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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. Scots (no, not Scottish) is … click below for more ↓

Why Jesus Won’t Answer Your Prayers

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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 Sara, would you respond if … click below for more ↓

The Father of Modern English

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As I promised in a previous post, here’s my almost certainly true and accurate explanation of why the language you’re reading now is the result of one man’s writing back in the 14th century. Yes, of course, I mean Chaucer; author of The Canterbury Tales. Thanks to him, you’re reading this in modern English. In his day, there wasn’t a cohesive form of English, but rather several dialects that were all Middle English (see map); each was influenced by its own invaders or immigrants, and in … click below for more ↓

More Venery

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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 more entertaining and amusing, the … click below for more ↓

The Book of Knowledge: 3

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Back in the Mesozoic of my life, I came across a quotation from Giacomo Casanova that, as far as I can remember these days, went “No man can know everything, but every man should attempt to.” For many decades, I didn’t know the source, or whether it was misquoted, misattributed, or simply a fake as we experience so often on most internet quote sites (aka clickbait sites). But it stuck with me. I recently found a more fulsome translation of his words from Chapter V … click below for more ↓

The Book of Knowledge: 2

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Last post I mentioned I had rescued a set of encyclopedias from the dumpster at the end of this year’s Mother Of All Yard Sales (MOAYS; an Optimist Club event). I didn’t explain what I saved and why, but I’m here to explain, and to show. Bear with me. First, let me give you some personal background. Aside from being a writer, in my career I have been a book editor for a Canadian publisher, a magazine editor for two Canadian magazines, and editor-designer-layout person … click below for more ↓

Musings on the First Tercet of Dante’s Inferno

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Back in December, before Godaddy broke my blog through technical incompetence, I had written a piece about the first stanza in Inferno, the first book of Dante’s trilogy, The Divine Comedy. Since that post seems irretrievably lost, I decided to write another in the same vein. So please bear with me if this seems redundant. It all began innocently enough on Tuesday late last year when I was searching through my bookshelves in search of something I can no longer recall, and instead of what … click below for more ↓

Casanova Dies in Bohemia

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At the end of his long and storied life, Giacomo Casanova found himself a lonely man in a damp, cold castle in Bohemia, a small German kingdom distant from all the places where he had lived and loved. The servants mocked him, making fun of his stuffy, outdated and foreign fashions, his powdered wigs and stiff formality. He is from an older world, a more refined and gentile world than everyone around him, and as the 19th-century approaches, he struggles to avoid becoming a fossil. … click below for more ↓

Uppercase Imperialism?

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Dr. Linda Manyguns has stylized herself as Dr. linda manyguns because she stopped using uppercase (capital) letters to protest the “symbols of hierarchy.” Manyguns is the associate vice-president of indigenization and decolonization at Mt. Royal University in Alberta. On her own office’s website, she wrote: we resist acknowledging the power structures that oppress and join the movement that does not capitalize. the office of indigenization and decolonization supports acts that focus on inclusion and support the right of all people to positive inclusion and change. … click below for more ↓

Musings on Swearing and Vulgar Language

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(Warning: I swear in this post… frequently. You can’t write about swearing without actually swearing a bit. Or a lot. Easily offended folks might want to look elsewhere.) I find myself swearing more often these days than I ever did in the past, at least at home (not at my wife, of course). I’m not sure whether that’s a condition of my age, or the result of decades of experience that has left me with a weary recognition that the world has gone to hell … click below for more ↓

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