Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Finally, finally

On the news this morning I heard a report from a refugee camp in a francophone part of Africa. There was a translator's voice, faded in over the original – which was topped and tailed to provide local colour. The woman being interviewed was recounting a separation caused by war, but, thanks to some agency, 'Finalement, finalement' she was reunited with her family. The translator said 'Finally, finally', which just about did the job, but it sounded a bit off – not exactly a FAUX ami, but one whom your mother wouldn't invite for tea.

'Finalement finalement' reminded me of Jaques Brel's Chanson des Vieux Amants:

Finalement, finalement
Il nous fallut bien du talent
Pour être vieux sans être adultes
And the vieux amants had been together, off-and-on, for a good few years.

I checked in the British National Corpus, and found, as I had suspected, that 'finally, finally' just didn't happen (well it did – on the radio this morning – but it doesn't spring naturally to the lips of native speakers) I then wondered, as the BNC was there in front of me, what I would say. 'In the end' doesn't quite do the same job (of emphasizing that the process was long and fraught with problems); 'when all was said and done' doesn't do it either; it rather trivializes the process, suggesting that it was a fairly normal thing that happened.

I ultimately (!) came up with 'at long last'. The BNC reported 132 hits.

I just wrote 'fraught with problems'; what other nouns fit, after that rather archaic word? To  quote When Vowels Get Together V2.0, referring to the nouns 'problem', 'danger', and 'difficulty':

One final bit of BNC-ery – a note I added to a query about 'much to my surprise' here:

This sort of 'much to' works with quite a few 'reaction' words: BNC has these :


1 MUCH TO HER SURPRISE 15
2 MUCH TO MY SURPRISE 14
3 MUCH TO HIS SURPRISE 8
4 MUCH TO THEIR CREDIT 3
5 MUCH TO THEIR CHAGRIN 3
6 MUCH TO HIS TASTE 3
7 MUCH TO HIS ADVANTAGE 3
8 MUCH TO YOUR CREDIT 3
9 MUCH TO HER FATHER 2
10 MUCH TO HIS CREDIT 2
11 MUCH TO HIS LIKING 2
12 MUCH TO HER ANNOYANCE 2
13 MUCH TO HIS RELIEF 2
14 MUCH TO HIS REGRET 2
15 MUCH TO MY DISAPPOINTMENT 2
16 MUCH TO MY ASTONISHMENT 2
17 MUCH TO HIS DIRECTION 2
18 MUCH TO MY EMBARRASSMENT 2
19 MUCH TO MY DISTRESS 2
20 MUCH TO MY DISGUST 2
21 MUCH TO MY REGRET 2
22 MUCH TO THEIR DISAPPOINTMENT 2
23 MUCH TO MY HUSBAND 2
24 MUCH TO MY HORROR 2
25 MUCH TO THEIR SURPRISE 2
...
+ 83 others with a frequency of only 1.

(There are a fair few odd-looking nouns there: 'much to her father' for example. These two cases are  'much to her father's mixture of chagrin and pride' and 'much to her father's irritation' – maybe someday I'll learn enough of BNC's syntax to avoid that sort of mishit (but I was pretty pleased with myself at finding out the magic word meaning 'any possessive pronoun' – which, FYI is 'APPGE' [which kinda trips off the tongue, don't you think? ])

But what I've 'finally, finally'  done is release V2.0 of my minimum opus.

b

Update 2013.04.18:
Yesterday, in a discussion here I made this contribution (after others had made their ritual request for context):

Quote Originally Posted by Prito View Post
It will be witness.
It will be witnessing.
It will be witnessed.


which sentence is correct? Can you tell me example?
To demonstrate the need for context:

It will be witness - something, not a person, will be the only thing collecting evidence of an event (perhaps, a movie camera triggered by movement). Not very likely.

It will be witnessing as above, but also could be an example of a journalistic device. For example, 'St Paul's Cathedral witnessed a memorial service for the much-loved Christopher Martin-Jenkins yesterday' If that sentence had been written on Monday it would have been ''St Paul's Cathedral will be witnessing a memorial service for the much-loved Christopher Martin-Jenkins tomorrow.'

It will be witnessed. Again, on Monday, that report could have been 'Tomorrow, CMJ's memorial service will be witnessed by six former England captains'. As Tdol said, this is probably the most likely of the three. But are you sure you want the subject of witness to be 'it' at all? My impression is that it's more common for people to be reported as 'witnessing' rather than things being 'witnessed'.

b

PS I understand that someone else is notable for an event at St Paul's this week. No idea who - there's something of a news blackout.
It's not particularly apposite but its humour value is time-sensitive..

Notes from the word-face
Many thanks to the 70+ people who have downloaded V2 – but nobody yet from .fr, .es, it, .jp, or .br. Come on folks!

Update 2013.04.18 – later, the same day:
Over 80 now, and both .it and .es have joined the party. Get downloading now – there's only one full day left of the free period (probably about 36 hours at time of writing).

 Update 2013.04.20
Well over 100, but time's up now. Time for me to get started on the Is.
Update 2013.09.30.11:25
Header updated:


 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