Friday, 31 October 2014

Returning the compliment (food for thought Part the Second)

Lord and lady  are both derived, remotely, from the root of our word loaf, hlaf. I don't fully understand the social organization that ascribes lordship to a '...hlafweard, literally "one who guards the loaves"...' as Etymonline says, but there it is.

Companion – still on the subject of bread, I have written elsewhere at some length about this one. Sorry about the 'some length', but I hope you'll find the journey worth it.
<digression theme="journey">
I was once editing a carpentry book (Barry of all trades, me), and its author held that a 'journeyman carpenter' was so called because he went from place to place. A dictionary I consulted at the time said that the true derivation was from journée: he was paid by the day. And that's what I believed (it still may be true: either he was paid by the day or he had to work a number of days before becoming a master craftsman). This 'travelling' idea was just folk etymology, I assumed.
But a recent radio talk by Neil McGregor has left me wondering; a journeyman craftsman did go from place to place looking for work. One day I'll find out who's right,,,
</digression>
up the duff / in the [pudding] club / a bun in the oven have already been covered (in last week's post).

warm as toast (sometimes 'toasty') is commonly used. If one were 'as warm as Melba toast' I suppose it would mean both warm  and thin and crumbly, and maybe a little singed round the edges.


toast – and, while we're on the subject, a toast is so-called in a reference to spiced toast used to flavour a drink.

tapas – Tapas bars are so common now in the UK that it could almost be treated as an English word. Certainly, there's no attempt at giving a full [a] value to the second vowel. The English pronunciation is /tæpǝs/. The word is related to the verb tapar [='to cover'] and refers originally to the practice of covering a drink (in transit from the local) with a piece of bread, to prevent spillage. The bread then became part of the treat  – not unlike a trencher, though a trencher was under a meal rather than over a drink.

trencherman is someone who likes his food, regardless of what it's served on. 'Trencher', incidentally, is cognate with the French tranche. So when the director of the board (table) of a company releases a tranche of shares, no fewer than three food-based metaphors are in play.

choux  – not only in the expression mon petit choux...
<digression theme=archaisms?">I've never heard this in real life. It may belong with Saperlipopette! among the not-very-useful vocabulary extensions provided by Passe Partout, which my sainted mother was prevailed on to buy to ensure my place among the crême de la crême.
</digression>
...but also, strangely, in the expression 'choux pastry' . What this has to do with cabbage is beyond me – unless... Aha: I suppose it's the texture – imagine a tight globe of cabbage, cut with a knife through several layers.... Compare that with the image of Paul Hollywood  picking through some choux pastry, talking about 'no/good lamination'. All the same, it strikes me as pretty unlikely metaphor.

crême de la crême –  pretty obviously, the best of the best.

cream off –  see cherry-pick

cherry-pick –  see cream off.
Well, not really, but the joke was too inviting. There can  be an overlap (as when a grammar school creams off/cherry-picks the brighter children in an area). But a dodgy scientist who cherry-picks his data is simply choosing the bits that suit his theory. (Not sexist – lots of women are scientists; but they wouldn't be dodgy ones, bless their hearts.)

mutton-chop whiskers –  an obvious visual metaphor. Not so obvious, though, to people born after the trade deal with New Zealand that guaranteed a year-round supply of lamb and so knocked sales of mutton on the head. Perhaps that should be 'that skewered sales...'. Or even kebabbed. Anyway, after that, farmers who relied on trade in mutton were toast.

Lamb dressed as mutton – the 'dressed' has nothing to do with clothes, as is suggested by the common 'dressed up as' (make that very common: the 'dressed as' version has only a few thousand more Google hits than the 'dressed up as' version: 138,000 plays 111,000 ). The 'dressing' in question often does involve clothes, but it's 'dress' as in 'prepare for the table' (cf, 'dress a lobster', 'dressed crab' autc). Getty Images owns the copyright to this example:
See the full thing here
sandwich(v) – the noun could have been included in last week's post, but when it became a verb it contributed to the corpus of food-based metaphors occupying the non-food world. And even the noun does this: I remember my son being involved in a 'Knowles sandwich' between two friends. (I've tidied up this memory a bit, I think the original was 'a Dom sandwich' – but sandwiches are named after their fillings.)

salary –  there's a fairly obvious link here with salt. The same association of salt with value is at work in the expression 'Worth one's salt'.

on the back-burner – not food, but definitely emanating from the kitchen: ='not actively worked on, but kept ready for future activity'.

Must go: I have my work cut out; (and I think there's a French idiom that means roughly  the same – which aptly refers to having 'du pain <quelquepart>' (no time to check exactly  where [sur le plancher?]).

b

Update 2014.10.31.14:50 – Afterthought in red.
Update 2014.10.31.15:40 – Afterthought in maroon.

PS I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this food metaphors idea, but it'd stick in my craw not to record the ideas as they come, rather than save the best for last. 
Update 2014.11.01.10:45 – Added PPS
PPS The layers of metaphor here go on and on. The food is named after the man who invented it. The man was named after a place. The place was named after the sort of ground, and what was done there:
'Trading-centre on sand'. Sandwich is known to have been a trading settlement in the early Anglo-Saxon period.

Elements and their meanings

  • sand (Old English) Sand.
  • wīc (Old English) A dwelling; a building or collection of buildings for special purposes; a farm, a dairy farm; a trading or industrial settlement; or (in the plural) a hamlet, village.
The prestigious Time-wasting Site of the Year Award (familiarly 'Tezzy') goes to the University of Nottingham.

So when you have a picnic on the beach, the sand that gets in your sandwiches is just returning to its roots: Das ewig Krontschliche zieht uns hinan. [Afterthought I'm not sure where it was that I found this word, and I'can't find it now; but it  was  meant to mean CRUNCHINESS.]

Update 2014.11.01.16:45 – Added PPPS
PPPS I was reminded of another this morning in the Post Office. The woman in front of me said to her friend 'I need a crumpet to get me going in the morning'. And I thought What would Kenneth Horne  have done with that? Come to that, where would the Carry On films have been without the expression 'a bit of crumpet'? I can see the script now:
Barbara Windsor:   'I need a crumpet to get me going in the morning'.
Sid James:           '<dirty-laugh> Me too. I just fancy a nice bit of crumpet                                       before  breakfast. <even-dirtier-laugh>'
 Missed my métier: should have been a script-writer. 
Update: 2014.11.02.20:30 – Added P4S
P4S
Finally drinks:

Lacrima Christi and Liebfraumilch have an air of religion about them. The first is obvious, the second less so. But it's not just any 'beloved lady' that it refers to, and harvesting the milk of a random lady would be pretty creepy. It refers to wine originally 'produced from the vineyards of the Liebfrauenkirche' at Worms, says Wikipedia. The production of alcoholic drinks is common at religious centres. Bénédictine was said to have come from  Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, though in a TV-3 documentary the last family owner of the distillery claimed that his ancestor Aléxandre le Grand made this claim as a marketing gimmick. Aléxandre le Grand? I have a feeling that someone's pulling someone's leg. Still, the association of alcohol with monks is common: M. le Grand, if he existed, was pushing at an open door.

There's no doubt about the provenance of Chartreuse, still produced in Voiron close by the Grande Chartreuse. And this introduces the idea of place-names used to name drinks. There must be dozens, if not hundreds: champagne, burgundy, beaujolais... Sometimes a place-name has been well hidden by the vagaries of phonological etymology. The name of of the place Jerez de la Frontera made its way into English as 'sherris'. Falstaff, in 2 Hen. IV, IV. iii. 111 says

The second property of your excellent sherris is, the warming of the blood; which, before cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice; but the sherris warms it and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extreme. 
'Sherris' was  subsequently wrongly assumed to be a plural; whence we get Sherry.

Port too, perhaps unsurprisingly, is vinho d'O Porto;
<digression>
And, incidentally, maps that call it 'Oporto' might just as well call the place near Cherbourg  'Lehavre'.
</digression>
and its close-ish relation Madeira also gets its name from a place. But that's not where the layers of metaphor stop. The island of Madeira is so called because it is heavily wooded (Pg. madeira = 'wood').
<doubt>
All the authorities I've looked at confirm this, but I can't say I'm entirely satisfied. Madeira is the substance rather than the silvan entity. I'll have to check whether at any time in its history its meaning has changed. Or perhaps the island of Madeira was (or is) an exporter of wood. Watch for an update.
</doubt>
Update 2014.11.03.09:05 – Added afterthought in purple.
Update 2014.11.05.17:35 – It turned out to be more than an update's worth: See here.
Update 2014.12.10.11:35 – Added a link to explain the Goethe 'quote'. Far be it from me to  de-mythologize my reputation for polyglottery, but I admit I haven't read Faust.


 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 47,300 views  and well over 6,350 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 2,350 views and 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.



Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fings ain't what vay used to fink

David Cameron, doing a Khruschev, but in Brussels (and not doing the full discalced version – he kept his shoes on, though he prodded the lectern with a comparable mixture of stage anger and impotent bluster) was reported as saying people who thought he'd pay his dues 'had got another thing coming' (that  link is to just one report, but I haven't seen  a 'think' version in any other report). I thought I'd never heard this mangling before, but I obviously had, as Google reports that it's almost 50 times as common as the original: thinK – just over 100,000 hits, but thinG – well over 5,000,000. What had spared me from an awareness of this lapse was what phonologists call assimilation (I've mentioned this before, here). In brief, /g/ and /k/ are articulated with the tongue and the teeth in the same relative positions, but /k/ is not voiced. The voiced /ŋ/ at the end of 'thing' assimilates to the unvoiced /k/ in 'coming', and my sensitivity to this vulgarism (I'm ducking and covering as I write this) is spared.

Interesting, but...*

A similar thing happens ( but without assimilation) with 'scoring off his own bat', which notches up only 45,000-odd Google hits, as against nearly 300,000,000 for the meaningless 'off his own  back'.
<digression theme= "that is to say...">
...well, not assimilatiom to another phoneme. I think it was John Trim (mentioned elsewhere in this blog: let the word-cloud do its thing if you're interested)  who pointed out that a speaker's  simply closing his/her mouth at the end of an utterance could make a final consonant 'assimilate' to the appropriate bilabial phoneme, so that both 'off his own bat', and 'off his own back' might sometimes sound as though the speaker  were saying 'off his own bap' (which would be no less meaningless than 'off his own back'.)
</digression> 
A cricketer scores 'off his own bat' when he hits a scoring ball –  it is not an 'extra' (added to his score in various circumstances). The expression can also be used when a tail-ender, while scoring very few 'off his own bat', plays a crucial role by supporting a batsman in a valuable partnership.

But I've heard people who should know better (regular club cricketers) say 'off his own back'. Perhaps that seemingly fanciful 'off his own bap' sound really is relevant: people hear 'bap' and supply a noun that suggests effort and support...?

Yet another such cuckoo-like displacement has happened – but with more reason – to the archaic 'for aught I know', which racks up less than 3,000,000 Google hits as against 'for all I know's nearly 90,000,000. But in this instance the change has unarguably happened. What's more, the all version makes sense.
I mentioned this before, in a note in When Vowels Get Together V5.2, referring to

(... the less common words aught and fraught – not included in the main /ɔ:/ section, as even the most advanced student is unlikely to need these. They might very occasionally meet them, but chiefly in the idioms 'for aught I know' and 'fraught with difficulty/problems/danger...'. Even then, in the first of these the archaic 'aught' – meaning 'anything' – is often replaced by 'all'; the British National Corpus lists 55 instances of  'for all I know', but only 2 for the earlier form.)
<digression theme="Word and Yosser Hughes">
In fact the words 'not included in the main /ɔ:/ section' are wrong there. I need to fix it. But good old reliable WinWord has prevented me from making a quick fix. The sources are in .epub format, and Sigil (the tool that I use to edit them)  is not installed at the moment. What seems to have happened is that WinWord has taken advantage of Sigil's absence, shouldered its way to the front (of  the metaphorical crowd of onlookers scratching their heads at the sight of this exotic filetype) and said 'Ah, .epub, I can  handle that. Just leave it to me.' And messed it up royally. I shall have to restore from backup.
</digression>
Here though, shunning Google, I used the much smaller but in some ways more authoritative corpus BNC. Google is hugely bigger, but has no quality control and very low criteria for inclusion; sometimes garbage in leads to garbage out.

Time to go.

b

A pretty obscure one, this. This should put you on the right track.

Update 2014.10.27.09:50  –  Added PS
PS
Do I have to add a rider about 'mistakes'? Here is one one of the many accounts I have given of how language develops by the anointing of what was originally a mistake. It's just that I'm not going to reach for the ointment [to do the anointing] before anyone else.

Update 2014.10.28.10:05   –  Added PPS (tweaked in further update, 2014.10.29.16:00)

* Some of you may have noticed that this analysis slides uneasily between /g/ and /ŋ/, and doesn't work unless the speaker comes from Bradford and says /θɪŋg/. There is an issue here that people who didn't learn English as a Foreign Language are unlikely to have noticed. For a German student once (she was bothered by her jung/junger as compared with our 'young/younger') I compiled a list (by no means complete) of '-nge' spellings. I'm thinking about  this, but time doesn't allow at the moment. Here, to be going on with. is that list (the first hanger  looks like a typo. but life's too short...):


/ŋǝ/

/ŋgǝ/
/nʤǝ/

anger



arrange
 [bang =>] banger


[bring =>] bringer




change
[clang =>] clanger



conger (eel)



danger

finger



flange


ginger
[hang =>] hanger



hunger


linger

[long…
…but] longer



mange (connected with…


…) manger (…but very remotely)


[plunge =>] plunger


[range =>] ranger
[sing =>] singer


[sling =>] slinger
(rarely used on its own, but in various composite words. e.g. “mud-slinger”, “gun-slinger”)




[strange =>] stranger

Tonga

[wing =>] winger


[young…
…but] younger



Update 2015.09.25.11:05   –  Added PPPS

PPPS As this issue has been resurrected at the UsingEnglish forum, I've had another – possibly relevant  – thought: think is rarely (if ever [ignoring the expression have a think]) a countable noun. Hearing 'another think coming' the temptation is to parse the object as a countable noun – which makes thing a good candidate.

 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 47,100 views  and wellover 6,300 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 2,350 views and 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.





Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Food for thought

It's time for the promised piece on metaphors in the kitchen. Examples came thick and fast when I first started collecting them, but now they're stagnating. I'm sure more will come to me. But here's a start.

A big source of metaphor in the kitchen is names, either of the dedicatee (Peach Melba, Melba Toast, Strawberry Pavlova, Boeuf Stroganoff) or of the original chef or restaurant or event (Caesar Salad, Waldorf Salad, Chicken á la King, Coronation Chicken).

Then there are animals or parts of animals: such as spotted dog – of which the origins are uncertain
<digression theme="dick">
as are the many other meanings of 'dick'. I had a transAtlantic superManager called 'Dick'. But one day – suspiciously shortly after the imposition of mandatory Sensitivity to Diversity Training – his name changed to 'Rich'; and some intern had done a really good job of rewriting history, as all old documents seemed to have been exposed to the same Diversity Sensitizer.
</digression>
According to Wikipedia, Spotted Dick is like Spotted Dog, but with different fruit. The version I learnt at my mother's knee (and supply your own 'low joint' joke if you must) was that Spotted Dick was just a sanitized version of Spotted Dog, for use in the nursery – rather like my nephew who refused to eat Brussels (there's another one, by the way) Sprouts until they were called 'baby cabbages'

The Dog could be a corruption of dough. This doesn't look too likely on the face of it, but when you consider the many other pronunciations of '-ough' (7 or 8 in all, see When Vowels Get Together)
it becomes more plausible: think of chough, rough, slough, and tough. If 'dough' was once /dʌf/ (as is suggested by 'up the duff' and 'a bun in the oven' as dysphemisms for 'pregnant') corruption to dog seems more plausible.

Other animals are toad in the hole, devils/angels on horseback (and their Spanish cousin steak a caballo
<digression theme="What's on horseback?>
 a misnomer, I always thought, for a slab of meat with a fried egg on top – it's the egg that looks as if it were on horseback [a caballo]
)
<meta_digression>
And while we're on the subject of eggs, there's soldiers of course.
</meta_digression>

</digression>
, pigs in blankets, suprême de volaille (I'm not sure about that one; perhaps suprême is (now) just a name for a cut of meat, but I'd be surprised if it didn't get that name because the bird's breast was 'the best bit')....

French is a fertile source, particularly of the decorative sort (as in that great Cézanne work, from his époque culinaire, 'Les Grands Beignets' ) îles flottantes, croque Monsieur/Madame, chasseur (with its Italian cousin cacciatore (hmmm – I wonder whether that's as crude....
<potential_digression theme="crude" />
<digression theme="crude">
Oh all right. Our 'crude' means raw (think of crudités). That's another food-based metaphor, woven into the language.
</digression>
.... a metaphor as it sounds, with the sauce representing blood....
<explanation type-"PPS">
That "blood" must have been a bit of a surprise for people who know little of French or Italian. Both chasseur and cacciatore mean "hunter".
</explanation>
Eclair is another graphic one. The choux bun (there's another one) with its streak of chocolate is a cumulo-nimbus cloud, and the cream filling is a flash of lightning (éclair).

And, winding up French for now, there's baguette [=drumstick]. And there we have a clash of metaphors (a 'metaclysm'?), as a 'drumstick' in English, is a metaphor not for bread but for a chicken leg. Oh, and croîssant (which I said something about here).


Then there's Italian. But that very fertile ground must wait for an update; as must a shortish piece on metaphors returning the compliment (coming back out of the kitchen to do service in the... erm... 'extra-culinary'?---- world).

b

Update 2014.10.25.17:40 – Italian

The names for different sorts of pasta are often (if not usually?)  metaphorical.* Some of them are pretty obvious (tortellini  [which is probably itself a metaphor] are sometimes called ombelico [=belly-button]...
<digression theme=navel date_range =1971-2>
My first Spanish exam (really threw you in  at the deep-end in  my day, kids today don't know they're nacidos] involved translation of a passage entitled (and if you're looking for 'titled' there, read the red-letter rant here) 'Did Adam have a navel?' And I didn't know the Spanish for navel. Long words are a doddle though – 
<meta_digression>
When I first landed in Spain to pick up the language I tried to make sense of the newspapers and found I could, with some effort, decipher the world/financial/political/economic news but with sports I couldn't get past the first line.
</meta_digression>
so I blagged my way through by talking about Adam's cuerda umbilical. Anyway, that umbilical is a pointer to the derivation of  the Italian ombelico</digression>
 ... Then there's gnocchi , which Etymonline says is
from nocchio "a knot in wood," perhaps from a Germanic source akin to knuckle. So called for their shape.'  
and conchiglie. [='shells']..more will no doubt come to me. Oh yes   spago is the Italian for string or twine. Add an h to keep the g hard after an e, and you see what spaghetti means.

Leaving pasta aside,, there's ciabatta [='slipper']
<digression>
A slipper in France is un chausson (which, in the kitchen, is what is in English a tunover</digression>

And, one of my favourites, cappuccino. A cappuccio is a hood. What, you may ask, is hooded about frothy coffee? The 'capuchin' (I think that's the English) monks are the target of the 'hood' idea. Their habit is dark brown, and their cappuccii are a lighter brown  – cappuccino, geddit?

In another update I'll deal with the returning of the compliment foodstuffs having a metaphorical life away from the kitchen. But, before I go, I'll make a start with pasta again. Astrophysicists commonly refer to the fate of a person falling into a black hole as spaghettification. I wondered what would happen to a packet of spaghetti falling into a black hole. But at a birthday dinner the other day I saw the answer: spaghettini.

Update 2015.02.26.13:05 – Added PS

Just a quick update. In my trawl through -al words I've reached "schmaltz". We all know that it refers to a sort of sickly sentimentality; connoisseurs of sch- words may also suspect that its roots are Yiddish. What I didn't know until today was that it's related to our "smelt". Its Yiddish root, schmalts, is "melted fat" which is indeed sickly when used too lavishly. (For the full story, start here).

I think there's probably the makings of a full-length Yiddish supplement to this post (along the lines of the Italian one I did last October). But this tidbit (another food metaphor) will have to be enough for starters (yet another, possibly).

Update 2015.02.26.16:25 – Added explanatory note in the colour of blood.

Update 2015.03.13.16:55 – Added this note:

*
PPS Another pasta-based one has just occurrred to me – a speculation about penne.
I don‘t know for sure,  but suspect that it‘s related to our pen. This depends on   an understanding of pen that doesn‘t leap immediately to the 21st century mind; think of a quill pen. Here‘s what etymonline says:




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:  
well over 46,000 views  and over 6,800 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 over 2,500 views and over 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.





Sunday, 12 October 2014

Me me me me me

Most readers will know that selfie was the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013, but I have to report a new development in the selfie world: the Bluetooth-connected selfie stick.

I heard recently a statistic about digital photography – something like More photographs have been taken in the last ten years than had previously been taken since the beginning of photography. But since the coining of the word selfie in 2002 I estimate that an order of magnitude more images with a thumb partly obscuring the lens have been taken. I was ahead of the curve. I took one such photo on a holiday in the mid '80s.

Are people today more soulless than the people were in the early days of photography who objected that the camera would steal their spirit? Anyone with a mobile phone is now eager for spirit removal.

The person on the tip of everyone's tongue – in the selfie arena at the moment – is Wossname M.P., he of the paisley pyjamas. I haven't read the Sundays, but I gather from Broadcasting House that he has come over all Oprah and blamed his crass stupidity on a mental condition. I must say, as a fully paid-up member of the Black Dog Tribe, that I'm inclined to cut him some slack; de profundis (or should that be in?...) one can make a prat of oneself. And I gather he's going for some spirit-replacement therapy. After all, that's where the psych- of psychiatry comes from; is a psychiatrist a doctor who replaces people's spirits after they've been photographed?

On the other hand the duplicitous 'journalist' who entrapped him should be ... I don't know, something jolly nasty. 'Public interest' my Aunt Fanny!

That said, I'd be very surprised if a spin-doctor were not involved. To a depressed person, anyone who suggests a way of making the best of a bad job is a straw to be clutched at.

<digression>
And while we're on the subject of drowning men, I had my first affogato (ice-cream in espresso) after a festive meal the other day, and wondered why it was so called. Italian is not my first second language, more like Nth (where N is a large number – or mallet, as we cruciverbalists say). So I was trying to do something with the idea of 'fog' (silly, I know); maybe the ice-cream makes the coffee look misty...? 
But the Portuguese afogado came to the rescue. The ice-cream is the drownee and the black coffee is the Cruel Sea.

</digression>

Some day I mean to expand this digression into a post on culinary metaphors†. Wouldn't it be cool to plan a whole menu based on metaphors (with matching wines perhaps – I'm not a wine-buff, but I'm sure lacrima Christi would be involved)? It's the sort of thing an Agatha Christie murderer might do.  But not now – it's time I put in an appearance in the Real World.

b

Update 2014.10.19.16:16 – PS

The Language Show – which I went to yesterday – is a good place for savouring culture clashes. My favourite yesterday was a handwritten sign for some DVDs, but written in rather curvaceous European script. So it seemed to be announcing to the world that the stack of DVDs were 'DUD's. Foolishly, I didn't take a photograph. Come to  think of it, taking a photograph could have seemed a bit tactless. So you'll just have to take my word for it.

And while I'm here, I've updated the TES stats in the footer.

Here it is.

 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 46,800 views  and over 6,300 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 2,350 views and 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.






Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A born-again nincompoop

<rant>
My choir's latest venture is – among other things – Howard Goodall's Eternal Light. So of late I've been browsing on YouTube for recordings. And, posted as a Comment after one, was this:


I can't say I'm sure exactly what having a problem with something involves. but here are a few issues that occur to me:
  1. 'theological issue' (l.1)
    This is self-important twaddle
  2. 'Goodall writing' (l.1) 
    erm, he didn't. There are disputes about who did  but Goodall is out of the frame – he wasn't even born when it first appeared in print (1938).
  3. 'It ends with...' (l.1)
    The words in question come much earlier too
    ,{Oops  – I misremembered.}
  4. 'statement' (l.2)
    It's not, it's an imperative, although I have to admit that it is followed by a statement.
  5. 'I understand' (l.2)
    If he'd closed the quote, I'd have had a chance of understanding too.
  6. '...the nuance' (l.3)
    The mind boggles. He has misunderstood so much that the nature of this nuance is a matter of some interest.
  7. 'portray' (l.3)
    This should win some sort of prize for oddness of collocation. How, I wonder, does one portray a nuance? Perhaps he's confused nuance with nuage, so that when writing that it 'fails miserably' he's suggesting that Goodall is no good at drawing clouds...
  8. 'Jesus' (l.3)
    What? Who said anything about him? I think maybe he's confused it with that source of so much error, Holy Scripture. For the record, Jesus didn't have a grave. He had a tomb, (Sceptics would point out that it's easier to 'rise from the dead' if you're entombed rather than interred.)
  9. 'PLEASE' (l.4)
    Lord deliver us from posturing like this! To whom is it addressed, for Heaven's sake? Does he have some psychotic fantasy of being forced by Someone to act against his will, so that he has to beg '...allow me to sing?' No doubt he hears voices too, poor chap. 
  10. 'Most discerning christians [sic]...'  (l.5)
    While not being one myself, I know quite a few discerning Christians, none of whom would 'have a problem' with that (though they might wish that I hadn't put the boot in quite so hard – they'll forgive me though; that's what they do, after all!)
  11. 'SHOULD' (l.5)
    In the words of Oliver Cromwell
    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
But amid this detailed stuff  I'm in danger of missing the general point: this is a work of ART. If Goodall had written the text, he'd have been perfectly free to write anything that produced the musical effect he wanted. And while we're on the subject of oft-misinterpreted authoritative texts, didn't the Founding Fathers have something to say about this sort of freedom?

b
</rant>

Update 2014.10.02.22:45  –  retraction in the colour of shame.

Update 2014.10.09.12.45  –  added this PS
PS
Well, that was better out than in. But to remove the aftertaste of bile, here's a bit of levity –  a letter I've just sent to Faber Music (publishers of the piece). I imagine it won't get past the triage exercised by the unpaid intern who no doubt monitors the information@fabermusic.com mailbox.

My choir is singing this piece next month, and I'd like to report a typo that you could perhaps correct if there's a reprint.

In bar 3 of Factum est silentium the text has 'et vidi septem illos angelos' and the number is repeated correctly elsewhere. After the fourth angel has blown his trumpet, the mortals wonder what terrible things will happen at the sounds of the trumpets of the remaining 'trium illorum angelorum'. There's little doubt that the number is septem.

But in bar 6 it has 'Et septum angeli' as though St Jerome had a benign form of Tourette's Syndrome: 'And partittion angels...'!

All the recorded versions I have heard repeat this error, and I regret that my own choir will follow suit: a rogue  u in a quaver at this speed isn't worth spending precious rehearsal time on. But I'd like somebody to get it right sometime. ['I have to believe...']
b 
PS And in case anyone says 'This isn't Classical Latin. What does he know?', the answer is 'Quite a lot'. I studied Vulgar Latin (precisely the Right Sort of Latin, as the text comes from the Vulgate) at Cambridge (at the time, coincidentally, that Tom Faber was a Fellow of my college).
† This will certainly go over the head (between the legs?) of the intern. It's a reference to the text of the movement that follows Factum est silentium.

Update 2017.06.07.15:00  –  Removed old footer .