Friday, 28 February 2014

Nunc dimittis

... or, as they say in the army, 'Dismiss' (The similarity of the two words is no accident.)

Dismiss SEEMS to have been the word used by Walt Whitman when he said whatever it was that I first met in translation when I saw this tweet a few days ago:

I say seems because I  haven't been able to track it down. That is, it's easy to point to a few websites full of Whitman quotes; but they don't agree with each other. Usually Dismiss is OK, but the syntax of what follows ('anything that', 'that which', 'what', 'whatever'...) and the verb used  (offends, harms, hurts, insults...) varies widely. And the lists of quotes don't cite a printed source, so I can't check. Perhaps it's something that Whitman said often and in various ways. The pithiest and most likely seems to me to be 'Dismiss what insults your soul' (my personal preference is for offends, as in the Italian translation that started all this, but I suspect Whitman went for short words).

Anyway, my reason  for noticing the quote is the marvellous word Sbarazzati, which has nothing to do with Whitman. It's two words really, so I was a bit disappointed when I found that Whitman had used the  rather unassuming word dismiss. Before looking on the web I toyed with various possibilities: 'Disencumber yourself''? 'Throw off'? 'Cast off''? 'Lay down'? 'Shake off'? 'Shun'? Even, perhaps, 'shough off' implying that encumbrances to your soul were like a reptile's dead skin . Pregnant and pleasing, that one, but hardly Whitmanesque.

My own retweet summed up my feelings:

That's all for now. Mustn't miss the cricket. As the papes say, Ite, missa est – Latin, more or less, for 'That's all folks'.


Update 2014.03.03.12:10 – Added PS

The reason for my admiration for sbarazzarsi  is the initial s. An initial s, often tacked to an existing word (as in battere / sbattere, bloccare / sbloccare), can add all sorts of nuance. In English, we embark and then disembark, but Italian is much less profligate in its use of affixes; they imbarcarsi and then sbarcarsi. The initial s carries – often but not always – some kind of negative connotation: un sbaglio is a mistake or error, something that is sbagliato is full of mistakes. Sometimes the negativity is not so clear: sbadigliare is to yawn, sbafo is at someone else's expense, sbalordire is to stun or amaze, sbizzarrirsi is to indulge one's whims.... The uses of this initial s are infinitely variable, and I...

But speaking of indulging one's whims, I have things I should be doing.

Update 2014.05.02.14:15 – Updated footer:

 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 40.300 views  and well over 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 well 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.

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