Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Come together

When I was doing  Latin at school, I had no problem with the word coitusco-, 'with'; itus , 'going' (as in 'itinerary'). But I never got to use it in an English context – not at the Salvatorian College. [That Wikipedia page is a constant battle between the Powers That Be and the people who want it to reflect reality, paedophiles/sadists and all.]

'Coitus' is on my mind at the moment because it represents the second most common -oi- sound. But for much of my young life I thought it belonged to the most common (by far the most common, along with more than two-thirds of all -oi- words: a goldfish with a cough, as it were, /'kɔɪtəs/, rather than – as we were taught at that hallowed establishment – 'The Beast With Two Backs'.)

It was in 1976 that I happened, by a quirk of fate, on the /əʊɪ/ pronunciation. The Brotherhood of Man had, earlier that year, won the  Eurovision Song Contest with the insupportably twee song Save Your Kisses for Me. In preparation for the Edinburgh Fringe, at which I was to be playing with the Oxford Theatre Group, I wrote a pastiche of the song, which (as keen students of mid-70s Middle-of-the-Road music will know) ends with the couplet
Save your kisses all for me
Even though you're only three.
[Geddit? It's not about sex, it's about paternal love. Honi soit qui mal y pense.]

My version took the idea of the sexual meaning made innocent by a revelation in the last line, and developed it. The song required a certain amount of Willing Suspension of Disbelief, as the singer was a Meccano set with a missing piece. It was called I Could Do with a Screw.

The song ended up on the cutting room floor, as did much of what I had written, as loads of new material were shoe-horned in to make way for the Latest Big Thing. Well he was. But his arrival turned an overlong 8-person revue into an overlong one-man show with patches of brilliance and a cast of 9.

Anyway, we've all passed a lot of water since then. I mention this only because the final couplet of my pastiche (which joined the ranks of Paul Simon's 'songs that voices never shared') was

Prudes may take offence and show it us
But we haven't mentioned coitus.
Must get on. I'm nearing the end of the -oi-s, and V3.1 of #WVGTbook will be available (deo volente, weather permitting, and with a following wind) early next week.

Update 2013.09.02.11:12 – Small tweaks (esprit de l'escalier) and updated the footer.
Update 2013.09.27.13:45
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.

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