Saturday, 30 November 2013

Bobby Shaftoe's gettin' a barn

Borgen last week (and this week too, probably) reminded me of a setting of Bobby Shaftoe that we sang on the Wokingham Choral Society's tour of the West Country earlier this year, reported here.
<digression theme="all men are false">
And on the subject of Bobby Shaftoe, I don't see why it's always presented as such an upbeat song.
 "He'll come back and marry me"...?                  Who are you trying to kid, sister?
"Bobby Shaftoe's gettin a bairn"...?                   oh yeah? You are  Take it from me    kiddo, you've seen the last of the aptly-initialled BS.
<meta_digression subject="All men are false">
The song Silver Dagger includes the verse
"'All men are false'
Says my mother,
'They'll tell you wicked loving lies.
And the very next evening
He'll court another
Leave you alone to pine and sigh.'"
At least, that's the way I know it, from a Joan Baez EP (Remember them?). In a play on Radio 4 last week (still catchable if you're quick) a character sang "All men are fools"; OK, that's the folk process. Words change from singer to singer. But 'my mother' didn't mean that men are fools: 'They'll tell you wicked loving lies" You wouldn't catch her singing "He'll come back and marry me".
<meta_digression>
</digression>
Where was I...? Borgen. Katrine was talking to Kasper about 'min barn' (Google Translate says the min becomes mit in that context, but I'm not convinced. I suspect a typo. I'm pretty sure I heard an [n].) Anyway, Danish barn means English 'child'.

In preparation for our tour, I downloaded a recording of  an American choir singing Bobby Shaftoe, and I was greatly amused by the words 'Bobby Shaftoe's gettin' a barn [sic]' The next line is 'For to dandle on his arm', and I thought the singers were just trying to 'repair' the rhyme (not knowing the Scottish pronunciation of 'arm').

Album containing
The Road t Dundee
The song The Road to Dundee includes the line '...she gave me her ar-m'. And the tune is a match for the strangely similar-sounding Streets of Laredo (totally different, and modal where Streets of Laredo† is in the major, but the rhythms are the same [Streets of Laredo=Gave me her ar-m] and the tunes are an inexact mirror image of each other). Arm is [eʀm]. (Other similarities include reference to the season in the first line, in a way relevant to the mode [Cauld winter was howlin' o'er moor and o'er mountain versus I left my hometown one warm summer evenin' in the warmer-sounding major tune, and a first-person narrative.])

So in Bobby Shaftoe, the 'bairn/arm' rhyme doesn't need repairing. Silly Yanks I thought (being a bit of a Chauvinist; apologies for the intemperate slur, which I'm about to retract, if you'll be so good as to read on); Fancy not knowing that.

But Borgen made me think again. The printed text in the musical score is '...bairn/...arm'; and a non-British speaker might not recognize the word bairn. But if one of the singers had Danish ancestry (as a good few North Americans do) they might have recognized it as barn. There was Danish influence on Scots and English. So my imagined Dane might well assume it was a plain typo. Not so silly.

b
PS
A while ago I noted this snippet somewhere, which seems vaguely relevant:

A linguistics professor at the University of Oslo has been making headlines with a controversial claim. He believes that English is, in fact, a Scandinavian language, placing it in the North Germanic language family rather [ed: 'than'] the West Germanic family, where it has traditionally been placed. Is English a Scandinavian Language? he asks in a K International blog.

But I must be getting on before the next episode starts and fills my head with more 'wild surmise'.

Update 2013.12.01.11:35 – Added links
† Johnny Cash's version doesn't have the 'warm summer evening'.  That's the folk process for you.

Update 2013.12.01.17:15 – Added this PS:

PS

Report from the word face

When  I last reported on #WVGTbook I was having trouble with conversion to hardcopy, partly because the only format Amazon would take was PDF, so I was forced off the WinWord I know (Word 2003) onto a new one (a beta test kit) that lets me choose .pdf as an output format.

Suddenly – though I suspect that if I read the right blogs I'd've known it was coming – they're accepting .doc, docx, and even .rtf as well. So I'm retracing my (very tentative) steps with Word 2013 and working on a plain .doc file. I should be done before Christmas. Stay tuned ....

Update 2014.05.06.12:15 – Updated footer

Update 2014.06.06.21:45 – And again.

Update 2015.06.22.10:05 – And again, and added picture.




Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  
Over 49,100 views  and nearly 8,000 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 nearly 2,700 views and nearly 1,100 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.








Thursday, 28 November 2013

Look what I did

Guest writer today is, as usual, me - giving a summary of the ELTchat at midday (UTC) on Wednesday  28 Nov. (And, while I think of it, Happy Thanksgiving )

Student-Generated Content


There were twelve contributors, of whom five contributed a single tweet – so I’ve known livelier discussions. Perhaps lurkers could at least make themselves known (as those five did).

We spent a while deciding what SGC was, and decided not to count ephemeral scraps of language produced in class; bouncing off those is what teachers do

. Many ideas were floated, and experiences discussed, notably:

  • Learner- generated coursebook
  • Learner- generated tests
  • Learner- generated lesson-plan
  • Recordings (audio and/or video) for discussion and comment
  • Ss suggest better image/layout/structure for coursebook

In any case, what was agreed to be essential was a vehicle (blog or wiki) for storing/organizing SGC. And whatever they had produced, students were more interested and motivated (and therefore learned more) if they were involved.

Not many links were posted, normally a feature of these chats, and these two books were mentioned:

      Books
      

Links
 (These bys are sometimes vias and sometimes authors; which is which should be obvious.) 

b





 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 34,400 views**  and  4,800 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 1637 views/740 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.



Monday, 25 November 2013

Abbreviator

My theme today is not just a sophomoric joke: an early edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary glossed abbreviator as 'Vatican official who draws up the Pope's briefs'. Oh how we larfed! (The Thought Police at OUP have now fixed this, but my copy preserves it. People decrying the longevity of images posted on Facebook tend to say things like 'Once it's there you can never shake it off.' But that's been true since the days of William Caxton. The Internet is just more trivially searchable, but print media area are just as long-lived. In fact, given problems of interoperability, things stored on computers are arguably more ephemeral. (My children's novel is a case in point; the sources are on a floppy disk from an old Amstrad PCW.)

This week's Book of the Week  on Radio 4 is a political biography that deals with Mitterand. In it, I caught' the phrase 'the romanesque side of Mitterand's nature' (his tendency to fantasize); and my translator's ears pricked up. I though it was Sarkozy who had high arches... [Think about it.... Arches....] Mitterand wasn't anything to do with architectural history. I thought the book must have been a translation  whose translator had misunderstood roman-esque – 'like a story (un roman)'. I started to listen more closely, meaning to note who the translator was.

But there was none. It was by Philip Short, former BBC Foreign Correspondent: Mitterrand: A Study in Ambiguity. Surely his mastery of French was unquestionable. I would have to reconsider my 'duff translation' diagnosis. But what I had forgotten was the credit at the end of the programme: '...abridged and produced for Jane Marshall Productions'. So there was a 'translator' of sorts; someone who takes an original text and rejigs it in a different format.

Hidden away about 20 seconds before 'romanesque', there was mention of Mitterand's brother. The first few words that followed that attribution were delivered in a 'Allo 'Allo accent that signalled 'These are the words of a Frenchman'. The cod accent had lapsed several seconds before the word romanesque. I checked in the full text:


So the man who had used the word romanesque had been André Rousslet, and it was a mistranslation (or possibly a pun). My old Larousse Pour Tous, bought from Heffer's secondhand bookshop (which I bet* is no longer there in Trinity Street [on the other side from the main shop, and nearer Caius], glosses romanesque as qui tient du roman. Perhaps the French romanesque has nothing to do with our 'Romanesque' (my dictionary doesn't mention architecture, but it's what used to be called 'a vest-pocket book' –  another source of mistranslation: 'But vests don't have pockets...?', I remember thinking when I first met this reference to an American English 'vest' –  so is far from authoritative). Or maybe Rousselet had met the architectural meaning (maybe in French, maybe in English) and was making a joke about Mitterand's height (only about 3" taller than Sarkozy: that link takes you to a Google table of world leaders' heights).

It's not clear from the full text whether it was Mitterand frère or Short who was quoting Rousselet. But the radio abridgement suppressed the very existence of a third person or of a quote from a Frenchman.

But I must get back in the saddle  – turning #WVGTbook into a hardcopy book. This will reduce its networked features, but makes it more useable in an unwired classroom (as many EFL classrooms are).

b

Update 2016.01.31.12:00 – Fixed a few typos and deleted footer (as I will do in other posts when I get 'a round tuit'. The latest info.  is on my other blog.)

Update 2016.04.07.14:40 – Added footnote

* It's certainly not there now. And it only  became Heffer's  secondhand bookshop in the mid-'70s. When I bought my dictionary there, it was Bowes & Bowes's  secondhand bookshop; it was subsequently  engulfed by Heffer's.

I once heard this round (sung to the tune of Frère Jacques by undergraduates of a certain vintage [preceding mine]), that referred to past booksellers in Cambridge:

Heffer's Bookshop, Heffer's Bookshop,
Bowes & Bowes, Bowes & Bowes,
Galloway & Porter, Galloway & Porter,
Deighton Bell,  Deighton Bell.

The last two of those had gone before I arrived, though I think one of them had a (slightly) extended life as Heffer's Art Books shop, or something like that. Being acquired by Heffer's seems to be an occupational hazard in Cambridge's world of bookshops.





Saturday, 23 November 2013

The pulveropause

Last month, in my first anniversary posting I wrote this (about visits to this blog):
Birthday posts often include reams of statistics, but I'm afraid the schedule doesn't allow me to collect them. So here's just one: in the first 3 months of the blog (roughly BPS [Before Publication of the Schedule]) the site had under 1,900 visits – about 600 a month. In the 9 months since, the site had 6,700 – about 750 a month. This isn't a huge improvement (I reckon something like 25%), but given that it's been achieved in spite of (or because of?) less regular posts, and more work on #WVGTbook it's quite satisfying
Now that the dust surrounding the ELTons deadline has settled (I submitted it on the 21st, and dealt with a rather disturbing query first thing on the 22nd [they couldn't download it from the Kindle Store] and was told that afternoon that everything was OK [ or "παντα καλωϚ εχει", which I gather is Classical Greek for 'Everything's hunky dory']), I can look more carefully at the HD stats.

In the first full three months – Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2013 – the blog registered just under 1,450 visits (I don't know where the higher figure I reported before came from – I had other things to think of at the time); that's under 500 per month. In the most recent three months (well, 2¾) it's had nearly  over 3,200 (more like 3,500 by the end of the month). This suggests that interest has more than doubled. That sounds a bit better.

Here's a picture:

b

Pulveropause, geddit?
Update: 2013.11.24.16:45 – new picture and updated footer.
Update: 2013.11.29.11:05 – another new picture
Updated picture.
† Update: 2015.08.28.10:15 – and another:more recent months this time:

In the first, only 3 months exceeded 800 visits pcm.
But for the last year monthly visits have
always exceeded this number




 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  nearly 34,400 views**  and  4,800 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 1637 views/740 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.



Thursday, 21 November 2013

Schottland the brave

A recent blog  on the derivation of brave caught my attention about ten days ago, but I was too busy with the ELTons submission at the time to do it justice. I just made a few notes, and – for unaccountable reasons [temporary insanity?] – gave it the title Schottland the Brave. Perhaps  I was conflating three ideas: the song, the germanness of the point of view, and the ruggedness of Scotland's coastline (reminiscent in some ways of the Costa Brava, so called for its ruggedness).

<digression theme=germaneness(sic)>
That's germanness. But while we're in Spain, I'm reminded of various Romance words for brother. In Italy (fratello), French (frère) (and I'm sure many others, which I can't recall off-hand) they used the Latin FRATRE(M) [and you really should recognize this convention by now; if you don't, have a look here]. But in the Iberian peninsula, this wasn't enough. As I remember (but don't have chapter and verse) according to one estimate there was a time when it was said that 1 in 3 adult males were in holy orders of some kind; for this sort of 'brother' they used Spanish fray, Portuguese frade, Catalan frare.... A brother by blood, or a germane brother became in Spanish hermano, in Portuguese irmão, in Catalan   germã  .... As we've seen before (here again) an adjective in a Noun Phrase often comes to be a noun.
</digression>
Anyway, the title, whatever it means, has sentimental value for me now, so I'm sticking with it.

One of the blog's points is this:
The problems facing Romance etymologists are, in principle, not different from those familiar to students of Germanic, except that the Romance languages go back to Latin, while Proto-Germanic is a reconstructed language. Yet hundreds of words in French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other Romance languages, including even Italian, either do not have indisputable Latin sources or are not traceable to any Latin roots, so that their early history is as hard to find out as the history of many English, Dutch, German, and Scandinavian words.
More here
It goes on to say this:
The main handicap in connecting brave and barbarus is phonetics. Barbarus had to become brabarus by metathesis (ar to ra) and lose part of its middle or to turn some other somersaults in order to produce the form bravus (b to v after a vowel is “regular,” lautgesätzlich, to use the German term).
More here
At the first mention of Romance Philologists I bridled – unnecessarily. I expected a slight where there wasn't one. What there was though was a MISAPPREHENSION. Read that 'The problems ...' sentence again, especially the 'Romance Languages go back to Latin' bit. We Romance Philogists are different from philologists who use words like  lautgesätzlich, because we're not dealing with a reconstructed language. Oh yes we are: the spoken form of Latin, sometimes called 'Vulgar Latin'. The reconstructed words are distinguished by a preposed asterisk: e,g,‡ '*PARABOLARE, to talk'.

The trouble with giving the reconstructed language a name like this (after all, both German and French 'go back to' – whatever that means – Proto-Indo-European) is that it seems to have some chronological reality: there was Proto-Germanic amd then there was something (Old High German? Middle German? I've no idea, but scholars of modern German think in terms of such a progression). Romance Philologists may be tempted to think similarly 'There was PIE, then there was Ancient Latin, then there was Classical Latin, then there was Late Latin, then there was Vulgar Latin then there were various Romance vernaculars, and then there was French/Spanish/Logudorese (spoken in Sardinia)/Breton/Catalan ....you name it'.

This was a mistake I made when I was writing my first 'Vulgar Latin and Romance Philology' essay (my main source for which was a Que Sais-je? book called Le Latin Vulgaire, the author of which, in response to the question in the series title, should have answered Pas Trop (I think my late lamented supervisor Joe Cremona made this quip, but it may be all my own work – in which case I'm on my own against Joseph Herman , author of  Le latin vulgaire). Vulgar Latin was not a stage. It is reconstructed from sources contemporary with the writers of the oldest Classical Latin texts. Inscriptions and graffiti from Pompeii are a major source. For example, a ring was found there, as reported here. "Dominus suae1 ancillae" was the inscription, reported the Daily Telegraph. Well here's the ring (or one very like it):
Not 'Dominus', domnus. And no-one could presumably suggest that there was not room, in a 10-15† cm spiral ring, for one little I, or that this one-stroke character was too complex for an otherwise impeccable craftsman! No, people were dropping the unstressed I in speech; and this accounts for words like the Italian Donna and Spanish Doña when the Classical Latin was Domina . I changed the sex of the lordly person, because in the masculine the attrition of an unstressed vowel has gone one step further – Don.

Now we come to the metathesis 'problem' reported in that blog. I have blogged elsewhere about metathesis. It's not a problem ('handicap' is the word the blog uses: 'The main handicap in connecting brave and barbarus is phonetics. Barbarus had to become brabarus by metathesis (ar to ra) '). Metathesis is as common as muck. It's how a widwe becomes a widow and a bridde becomes a bird, and how (as I showed in that blog) Spanish grinalda is related to French guirlande:

Consider the French guirlande and the Spanish grinalda. We can ignore the u, as it just keeps the g hard.
So we've got French


G + I + R + L + A + N + D + <unstressed final vowel>
versus Spanish
G + R + I + N + A + L + D + <unstressed final vowel>

The beginning and the end are the same, but four of the middle five phonemes are in different positions, and the only 'stable' one changes in quality (it's nasalized [in French, because the consonant that follows it has changed - clarification for blog]). In language development, phonemes jump about.

More here


Back at my Vulgar Latin example, as we're talking about the 'handicap' of believing that ar can become ra (or vice versa, in this case) the unattested [*]PARABOLARE gives us parler, parlare, hablar, falar....

But 'Show me the proof' says the cynic. ''[*]PARABOLARE is unattested'. Sheesh! Nobody's ever seen a quark. That doesn't mean they don't exist. If you don't understand something, don't just pooh-pooh it. Read a book FFS! 

We have (at least – I haven't given  it much thought) four reasons for knowing with confidence that PARABOLARE existed:
  • the plethora of Romance words that need it as a source
  • the existence of words like fable and parable; the noun PARABOLA existed
  • the other instances (in many languages, not just Romance) of verbs formed from nouns using a regular verb paradigm
  • the fact that learners of foreign languages find it easier to remember regular verbs (don't we all? – the clue's in the name). To take a Vulgar Latin example, CANTARE (first conjugation, regular – e.g. the third person singular in the perfect was CANTAVIT) was preferred to CANERE (third conjugation, irregular – not CANTAVIT but CECINIT); back at the ranch,[*]PARABOLAVIT (well, no, but for the purpose of argument...) rather than LOCUTUS EST. (LOQUI  is not only in a conjugation that often houses irregular verbs, but it is also 'semi deponent' – passive in form but active in meaning: just the sort of oddity that a second-language learner can do without.)
Anyway. Gotta go. Because of the relief of submitting my ELTons entry (which I have done) I've spent too long on this.

b

Update 2013.11.22.12:15: red bits and many typo fixes
Update 2013.11.22.22:50: Added the "‡" recantation. (And there's ['there'=in recantation] another trace of CANTARE.)

† I was crediting the poor serving girl with pretty pudgy fingers. 3π x the diameter of a woman's finger = about 10-15 cm.

‡ Well, I did say 'e.g.'. I've checked, and as it happens PARABOLARE is attested; but the example, as an example, is OK. If  PARABOLARE were unattested, it would have an asterisk preposed. I've removed or bracketed the others; the argument still works, but it's not as neat as I would like. (I'm sure I saw that asterisk somewhere.) Even if PARABOLARE didn't exist, we could work out that something like it must have.

Update 2013.12.14.18:30: Added the PS
PS
Incidentally. it was the inscription on this ring that alerted me to the derivation of the English word ancillary and made sure that I'd never again confuse it either in meaning or in spelling with auxiliary.

Update 2013.12.14.20:05 – Added germane digression.

Update 2014.04.23.12:25 – Added PPS, and updated footer.

PPS
1They obviously assigned this job to a cub reporter who had neither studied Latin nor looked at the picture. The 'suae' comes after the 'ancillae'. It's very easy to mistranscribe a foreign language by rearranging the words to fit a more familiar pattern.




 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 


And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 40.000 views  and nearly 5,600 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 over 2,000 views and nearly 1,000 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.



Monday, 18 November 2013

Confiteor

... that I don't know where I was when I heard about JFK's assassination. This may come as a surprise to people I've told otherwise. Marvo the Memorious has become Fibbo the Mendacious.

<autobiographical_note date_range="1963">

It's not that I thought I was lying. I thought I had a memory of sitting in a primary school classroom and being told by a grief-stricken RC teacher. (JFK was RC too, and was generally  thought to be a Good Thing among papists; the Marilyn Monroe stuff was unknown then {at least by innocent [at the time] little me}, and even if it had been he'd have been OK – nothing Holy Mother Church likes so much as a good-hearted sinner).

But the assassination was in November, when I'd have been in my first term  of secondary school, and at 18.30 UTC (which is the trendy euphemism for 'GMT' [avoiding any  imperialistic overtones]). So I wouldn't have been in a classroom at all, let alone one in a primary school.

The nearest my 'memory' can be is that, in those pre-Twitter days the news didn't break until the following morning. I'll have to start working on a new 'memory', in which Dodo (RIP, Fr Dominic mentioned elsewhere) announced it in assembly.

<digression>
Dodo it was who had been one of the many owners of my latin dictionary, first inscribed in 1868  – before even he was born. And one of the previous owners, in the entry for Confiteor, had struck out the words 'acknowledge, confess', leaving 'own [not 'own up'], avow, concede,  grant'. But I don't know what weight to put on this; perhaps he (I'm pretty sure it wasn't a 'she'   – a girl learning Latin in those pre-war days, the very thought!) was studying a set book that used the other meaning exclusively....
</digression>
</autobiographical_note>

Confiteor is a two-headed word that is uppermost in my mind because of my choir's latest offering. In the Credo it has its sinless sense: Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum.
<autobiographical_note date_range="1958-1960">

My apprenticeship in the Latin mass started when I was 7. My local church was a large monastery, so dozens of priests said Mass every day – so the server was often the only one in the congregation. A lot of the Mass is a dialogue (in Latin in those pre-1966 days). And a 7-year-old had to memorise long screeds of gobbledygook.

One did this by recognizing near-sound-alikes: Quia tu es Deus, Fortituda mea, Quare me repulisti et quare tristis incedo dum affligit me inimicus? had something  to do with 'forty-two' (it's /fɔ:titu:da/ , not /f.ɔ:titju:da/, and besides I hadn't met the word 'fortitude' [well, I had in the Catechism , that being one of the 'Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost', but it was not part of my active vocabulary.]) My party piece was the Confiteor:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti [and a long list of saints in the dative] quia peccavi nimis.... Ideo praecor beatam Mariam semper virginem [and a similar list of other saints, in the accusative this time]... orare pro me ad Dominum Deum Nostrum.
The Confiteor was my party piece, as I said  (since the congregation, even if there was one, didn't join in). The Credo was open to all comers, and included the word Confiteor (but in the other sense) 'I confess one baptism'. This duality, a few years later (just before the cassocks got too short for a bare-calved ten-year-old) bothered me. I hadn't yet appreciated that Sin was everywhere; however good your intentions, there was someone to LEAD US INTO TEMPTATION (a pretty unfriendly thing to do, I remember feeling at the time).
</autobiographical_note>

Anyway, time's a wasting and an ELTon  application has to be submitted by Friday. Oh, and I've got to rewrite the Introduction so that it doesn't look like what I submitted last time.

b

I've borrowed this adjective from a translation of Borges' memorioso  – the funereal character Funes, who had the Midas Touch of not being able to forget anything.
There's that peccare word again. Whichever meaning confiteor has {'claim as done in error' or 'assert as true'}, Sin is never far away.

Update 2013.11.18.17:50    –  added red bits

Update 2013.11.19.16:10    –  added PS:

PS Another, similar-looking word is confide, which is related in at least two ways. The one that may have struck some of  my readers is the idea  of 'having faith' (Latin fides). But in the context of what I said about confiteor the second thing they have in common may have struck fewer (if any). It is that confide is similarly Janus-like (January?): it has two very different meanings.

The earlier mid-15th-century meaning is 'have faith in'. I read somewhere a story, fascinating if true, that Admiral Nelson's planned message [before the Battle of Trafalgar –  added 2013.11.22 for clarity: English people had this story drummed into them at school {perhaps with Drake's Drum...? This is getting silly.}] was not  'England expects that every man will do his duty'. Any MBA student, studying 'Motivation 101', would recognize that while it has a certain force it is not nearly as good as the planned message: 'Nelson CONFIDES that every man will do his duty'. The story goes that 'England' and 'expects' had short forms, and HMS Victory didn't have enough flags for the more human version.

It was not until the 18th century that the meaning of confide was extended to mean 'have faith in somebody...' [so far so conservative] '...'s discretion to such an extent as to tell them a secret'. This second meaning seems to me to have more or less ousted the simple 'have faith' meaning. Nelson's  alleged original message sounds rather quaint, to my ear at least.

Anyway, must go. V5.2 will be appearing very soon. (I've submitted it to Amazon, and the wheels of Kindle Direct Publishing are grinding away even as I write.)



 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  over 34,100 views**  and  4,700 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 1637 views/740 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.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Uneasy lies the head that wears the throne

Notes from the word face

Well, here's the promised 'sitrep' as they say in all the best TV dramas (the ones with guns in, not pubs).

I've been in a bit of a quandary – no, more; make that a quindary – about which of the ELTons categories to aim for. There are several:
  • Excellence in course innovation
  • Innovation in learner resources
  • Innovation in teacher resources
  • Digital innovation
  • Local innovation
We also invite applications for The Macmillan Education Award for New Talent in Writing which is open to aspiring ELT authors who are yet to publish any of their work
I can rule out the 'course' one, and the 'local' one. (Can't claim to be that sure what 'local innovation' is actually. But I'm pretty sure I'm not doing it... Although... I am in a place, which seems to me to be a fairly crucial criterion.)

That leaves 3 from the main list, plus the New Talent one. I felt fairly confident of qualifying as New Talent when I was at least a practising teacher (and quite new to the profession), when I applied this time 2 years ago. Now, with a year's worth of writing under my belt and a Kindle offering out there, I wasn't so sure.

I would have liked to enter for the 'Digital Innovation' one. A year ago I had plans for some kind of mobile app, and  had even started a course in the necessary iPad/Android stuff. But my elbow was jogged by an early reviewer of V1.0, who tweeted a link and started a response that – while not exactly viral – at least persuaded me to down tools on the app. front, start this blog, and get #WVGTbook writtten.

That leaves 'learner/teacher resources'. I like to think I'm doing something for learners, but review comments have concentrated on #WVGTbook as a tool for non-native teachers of EFL/ESOL.

Then I thought (we are talking quite a few dark nights of the soul) that between the appearance of V5.0 (end Oct 2013) and the ELTon submission date (22 Nov) I'd prepare the Kindle book for hardcopy. So, in the [what I thought was the] end, the plan was to submit a hardcopy version for the 'Innovation in teacher resources'.

But the process of conversion was (is) not straightforward.  I realized last week that even with the most sympathetic of following winds I couldn't make the deadline. So I reverted to the idea of submitting the Kindle version, for the Macmillan Award. I thought this might mean having to take the Kindle version off the market. But as I've only sold half a dozen, the fact that it's racked up nearly 900 free downloads (presumably some readers have downloaded 4 or 5 times, but still...) Macmillan tell me I still qualify.

So V5.1 is still out there [now it's V<next>+n: Go to my author page for a link to the latest.] I'll be entering the Kindle version for the Macmillan award, and hoping they find it different enough from what they've already seen in my ELTons '12 submission. But I'm going ahead with the hardcopy conversion, because the process is a good way of doing a thorough review.

Stay tuned to this frequency (though INfrequency would be more appropriate, in blogging terms – I have a better record than some though [mentioning no names, but the meta-data may give you a clue. ]

b

Update 17.11.13.16:55 – Updated TESconnect stats



 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  over 34,100 views**  and  4,700 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 1637 views/740 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.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Centurion

And knickers to QI or whoever it was who  said a centurion was in charge of 80-odd men. Pah! Next they'll be saying 'decimate' means reduce by an eighth.... no, hang on, reduce by a fifth .... or something . This post will be more rushed than usual, but still:
 

The quick news is.

V5.0 is dead, long live V5.1. 

Well, not  l o n g; it's in fact going to be the most short-lived of WVGT releases, as I'm taking it off the market on Friday. It'll be free as soon as Amazon can manage it – 00.00 PST approx.

I've started work on a hardcopy edition, and am in the throes of wrestling with CreateSpace (which really is like wading through molasses, especially when contrasted with Kindle Direct Publishing). I'm getting there, but...

b

Update 2013.11.06.17:20 – Added this PS:
PS The unspoken message of the "..." after the final "but" was this: Until 22 Nov (the deadline for the ELTon submission) my online presence will be fairly sparse .

Update 2013.11.09.19:20 – Added this note:
I'm still thinking about this. Like another character in the Winter's Tale  – the first one being Autolycus, who is the 'snapper up of unconsidered trifles' (which I gather is a reference to stealing nether garments left to dry on bushes  – wasn' 'e  rude, Shakespeare?)  – 'I am a feather for each wind that blows'.




 Mammon (When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?)

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources:  over 34,100 views**  and  4,700 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 1637 views/740 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.






Saturday, 2 November 2013

Apologia pro screw-up sua

(And apologies for using apologia as if it meant 'apologies'. When Newman used it for Apologia pro Vita Sua it meant something more like explanation or justication or vindication – a word that reminds me of Borges' 'Biblioteca de Babél', where people search ceaselessly for the possible book that is a Vindicación of their own life. But I digress. In other news, to quote a recent tweet, bears shit in the woods.)

Loyal followers of #WVGTbook will have downloaded earlier versions. V2.0, which I released last April, is the only one that has been reviewed. When I published V3.0 (or maybe V2.1... the details aren't significant) I made it a new title, and the same for future work-in-progress releases.

But in the case of V5.0 I wanted to 'recapture' the V2.0 reviews, so I resurrected the old ASIN. Little did I...

In the first 3 days of the free promotional period there were fewer than 50 downloads (in comparsion with well over 100 for V1.0 (probably more  – I hadn't learned by then to drive Amazon's reports, and was only counting downloads from one site [120 from amazon.com]). I put this down to dwindling interest (hard to credit, but not beyond the bounds of possibility).

But a message from my sister in Florida put me wise to my error. She said Amazon wouldn't let her download the new book because she had already downloaded it last April. This suggests that the 50-odd downloads so far are from new readers, and that old lags are rewarded – like many bank customers – with an official 'Available for new accounts only'.

O me miserum! (or as Steinbeck's Lenny said 'I did a wrong thing, George').

I don't know how to fix this. But in my many years in the world of software engineering (but as a dilettante, or 'technical writer') I've often been helped by engineers fixing problems I had with intractable (not to say pig-headed) computers. The fixes often involved doing things differently (or 'exercising an alternate code-path', as I learnt not to say). There's more than one way to skin a cat, and some code-paths may involve the computer forgetting V2.0; with any luck, you can exploit a hitherto undiscovered bug. (And there's a juicy digression... no).

So here's what I'd try:

  • Delete the earlier download and reboot. With any luck, Amazon's memory depends on the presence of the old download; but this may not be enough.
    STOP PRESS
    This one works, so you needn't bother with ....
    In which case...
  • Use a different device. You can download to a laptop or PC (as Amazon gives you a free reader). Instructions are here
    But Amazon's memory of V2.0 may be specific to an account rather than to a device, in which case...
  • Download to a different account. If you have access to a Significant Other's account, or if you have set up distinct accounts for distinct purposes, this should be relatively easy. For those instructions I set up a new account. If all else fails...
  • Try one of these mirror sites:
    (For all I know they all map to the same database somewhere in that Great Amazon Delta in the Sky [not sure where that metaphor came from, but I suspectt rain forests and clouds came into it], but any different way of getting to the same place has the potential to fool the computer into thinking the world is different.)

Try these, and if I don't get a quick increase in downloads I'll resubmit (in which case the reviews will be lost to posterity).

Sorry

b

Update 2013.11.02.17:15 – Added list of mirror sites [now defunct]
Update 2013.11.05.10:15 – Added first (most obvious) fix. It's too late now anyway, but just for completeness...
Update 2013.11.08.10:15 – Added PS
Update 2013.11.09.15:15 – Added PPS

PS Vindication of 5.1

'Nuff said. (Well, too much if I'm honest. All hell is about to break loose, courtesy of SSE: 'planned outage'. Which, as a friend once said, is American for outrage.)
 PPS
OK, a bit of analysis for the ones that like words. The glitch I was trying to address (not being able to download) affected my sister in Florida but not my son in  Leeds. From this I reckon that downloads from the  .com site may be more significant than others.

In V5.0's 5 days there were 30 downloads from the .com server. InV5.1's 2 days there were more than 50 – more than 4 times as many, pro rata.

But, even assuming my guess about the significance of the .com server is wrong, the total figures are persuasive enough: V5.0. <60 in 5 days versus V5.1 >60 in 2 days.

 I rest my keyboard.

Update 2014.05.06.20:55 – Added STOP PRESS (to the list of possible fixes)

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this.

Freebies (Teaching resources: over 40.700 views  and nearly 5,700 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 nearly 2,1

00 views and nearly 1,000 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.