Tuesday, 20 November 2012

On the cloudy side of the street

This isn't going to be a very long post. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, but my 13th post is going to be more of a '12a'th. (The subject of superstition calls to mind the Romance Languages' range of propitiatory euphemisms to refer to the weasel; another time, perhaps...)

In blog no. 12 I remarked on (that is, animadverted to) how English has a negative-sounding range of collocates with heart. Shortly after writing that I came across this observation by David Crystal, in The Story of English in 100 words.

I once went through a dictionary pulling out all the ways there are in English for saying 'good' things about the world (such as wonderful, happily, a marvel) and all the ways there are for saying 'bad' things (such as awful, clumsily, a disaster). I found 1,772 expressions of positive sentiment and 3,158 expressions of negative seniment.
So far so good, and I was giving myself a mental pat on the back for reaching Crystal's conclusion before he did; well, not before, as his 'once' may have been fifty years ago - in fact it probably was (this ploughing through dictionaries taking notes is a young man's wor... Doh); but my observation preceded my reading. But he goes on in the next sentence:

It's almost twice as easy to be critical in English, it seems.
In the next sentence. The syntax makes it clear that this is a conclusion. But it's syntax itself that calls his conclusion into question. The lexicon provides the stuff of twice as many criticisms as fillips. But the word-bank is not all we have. The resources we have to express approval are not inconsiderable (and the use of double negatives is one of them)!

On which subject, I should say that I'm more than a little perplexed, though by no means displeased (OK, I'll stop this) that Wachet auf is by far the most popular of my posts so far - at least twice as many hits as most of the others, and nearly seven times as many as 'the least of its brethren'. Hmm ...


 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V4.0: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs – AA-AU, EA-EU, and  IA-IU, and – new for V4.0 – OA-OU.  If you buy it, contact  @WVGTbook on Twitter and I'll alert you to free downloads of the forthcoming volumes; or click the Following button at the foot of this page.)
And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: nearly 32,400 views**,  and  4,400 downloads to date. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with 1570 views/700 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

No comments:

Post a Comment