Sunday, 25 October 2015

Tortilla humps

Some time ago, in a PS to this,  I wrote:
The Tortilla Tie
A while ago (too long ago for me to find an exact match on the M&S site) I was given a tie quite like this. And the pun in my title has reminded me of its stock ID: Sartorial tie. But the person who programmed the stock control software – the magic stuff that makes receipts say so much – must have been dyslexic (or maybe it was just a Friday afternoon). As a result, the receipt said that what MrsK had bought was a TORTILLA TIE
And here it is, by the magic of Bluetooth.


Yesterday, the Tortilla tie had one of its rare outings, on the occasion of the wedding of two friends for whom I wish all good things; at last they have made honest women of  each other. All my love to Karen and Catherine.

Interesting word tortilla.... It is, etymologically, a 'little torta', or 'tart'. but it is savoury, and takes two forms.
<autobiographical_note>
The first meaning  I met improbably, at St Gregory's RC Primary School in the late 1950s (in the assembly hall, as it happens). We sat on the floor in the hall to listen to BBC Schools Radio (or whatever it was called then), though we didn't know it was radio. It was a huge lump of loudspeaker, a veritable ziggurat of a thing, too big to stand on a table, with none of the controls (none visible, that is)  that would have identified it as a wireless [or TSF as I would learn to call it a few years later, when I wondered Why does 'Barren telegraphy' mean radio? {Geddit? Sans fils. Bou-boum/Tsh}], except for a large Bakelite on/off switch. 
The programme was an 'opera' called, I think, The Midnight Thief, set in Mexico.  It was full of funny words. The opening chorus, for example, ended 
Cock-of-the-rock and cuckoo
Are our comrades and hobnobbers
But we think it right
To shoot at sight
All bandits thieves and robbers 
The main characters were Fernando and Frasquita, and I played the G chime bar. At one stage, Fernando 'packed his tortillas with cheese'.
</autobiographical_note>
This is the pancake-like tortilla. The other I met about 10 years later – the omelette-like sort.
<potential_digression reason="hedge-trimming">
Omelette, now there's a word....
</potential_digression>
Gotta go.

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 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 49,300 views  and nearly 9,000 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.






.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Lies, damned lies, and general drum-beating

Every now and then I do a post about how Harmless Drudgery is doing. It started in October 2012, so that the first full year's visits had been recorded by the end of October 2013. Since then I've got (courtesy of Blogger) more than two years'  worth of stats, which make for a bit of a long graph – more of a frieze; so I've taken every fourth one to produce this quarterly picture of growth – healthy, but no more than linear.
Revised figures at end of October
It would be unrealistic, I think, to expect a similar near-doubling readership over the coming 9 quarters;  and, besides, it takes quite a bit of (writing) effort to maintain interest – which is at odds with the original purpose of the blog [which, longer-term visitors will know, was to support my other writing efforts].

Also, I'm aware (and slightly envious) of the example set by David Crystal's blog, which is very sporadic. He ends his most recent post with these words:
There's nothing like dictionary compilation to take you away from the real world. It's not like any other kind of writing, where you are in control of your content. In a dictionary, the content controls you, in the form of the alphabet. The object in question will be out in March,The Oxford Dictionary of Shakespearean Pronunciation. It's at the copy-editing stage, and next month I have to record the audio version and soon after go through the proofs. Believe me, there's nothing more blog-destroying than a set of dictionary proofs.
In 2012-13, at the time of initial work on When Vowels Get Together's various work-in-progress editions, I remember sharing this tunnel-vision. I posted to the blog fairly frequently, but often in smaller posts – often scarcely more than a screenful (although many of those earlier posts have had Updates added. And there was also the footer, which fleshed them out [at the expense of up-to-date statistics]).

For the first year, it was feasible to update footers quite regularly; but with a backlog ...
<digression>
At last, an etymologically deferential usage (which is not to say, of course, that words' meanings should be – or indeed can be – preserved in aspic; here's an interesting post that describes The Etymological Fallacy) . This post discussed the word backlog.
</digression>
... of getting on for 240 posts. the task of updating them has become a mixture of Sisyphean and Augean. Besides, I've worked out how to do it properly, with tabs. So stay tuned for a NEW DEAL.

b

PS – A clue:

Starry-eyed rallies disorganized – releasing endless cry. (8)

Update 2015.10.21.18:05 – And another:
PPS Way to show deference to French chef, say – two-wok version. (6)

Update 2015.10.31.20:55 – And another:
PPPS An office assistant toys with reprisal, but thinks again. (11)
(I also updated the graphic.)

Update 2015.11.04.22:25 – And yet another:
P⁴S Nuts – sociopaths without ring involve copper's nark in fit-up (10)


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 49,300 views  and nearly 9,000 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.






.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Faithful or attractive, take 2

"Since some time I have begun an oratorio [BK – Elijah], and hope I shall be able to bring it out for the first time at your Festival..." 
Mendelssohn to the organizers of Birmingham Music Festival, 24 July 1845
'Since some time'? 'Bring it out'? Mendelssohn was an imperfect  speaker of English, though his English was a lot better than my German  (which, as I have said before, was Best Before End November 1969), and Elijah appeared first in English; all his correspondence with the Festival organizers and with his English publishers was conducted in English.

F.G Edwards, in his History of Mendelssohn's Oratorio 'Elijah' wrote:
The music of "Elijah" was composed to German words; an English version was therefore necessary. Mendelssohn had no hesitation in assigning the task of making the English translation to Mr. Bartholomew—"the translator par excellence," as he called him—who is so well known as the translator or adaptor of Mendelssohn's "Athalie," "Antigone," "Œdipus," "Lauda Sion," "Walpurgis Night," the Finaleto "Loreley," "Christus," and many of his songs and part-songs.
According to Edwards,

William Bartholomew (1793-1867) 
William Bartholomew (1793-1867) was "a man of many accomplishments—chemist, violin player, and excellent flower painter." In 1841 he submitted to Mendelssohn the libretto of a fairy opera, entitled "Christmas Night's Dream"; and in this way an acquaintance commenced which developed into a(49) close friendship between the two men—a friendship severed only by death.
Perhaps Mendelssohn's estimate of Bartholomew's excellence as a translator could be questioned. Perhaps Mendelssohn just meant that he was biddable, and ready to offer dubious and/or risible versions of the German texts as long as they approximated to the rhythms and sounds of the original. Here are some bits of the German, with Bartholomew's English text (I admit I was tempted to add some derisive quotation marks to that English); in the event I have just coloured offending versions in red.

verbig dich am Bache Crith
   =(?) thither hide thee by Cherith's brook

so ziehet hin, greifet ihn, tötet ihn!
    =(?) So go ye forth; seize on him! He shall die!

Wir haben es gehört  
    =(?) We heard it with our ears

noch sind übrig geblieben siebentausend in Israel, die sich nich gebeugt vor Baal
    =(?) for the Lord hath yet left Him seven thousand in Israel, knees that have not bowed to Baal

That last one is hard to deliver without laughing. At a first reading, I thought the seven thousand knees were just an encouraging spin on the notion of only 3,500 faithful. But look at the German: 'siebentausend..., die sich nicht...'  The die are the 7,000 faithful. The 'knees' are a figment of Bartholomew's imagination [and the resultant chaotic syntax is his fault].

But I don't underestimate the difficulties of verse translation; I'm a one-time practitioner, as mentioned here. And I'm not suggesting the wholesale revision of dated works; I pointed out here, for example, that in The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves Verdi set the archaic word Ove where modern Italian would have Dove; archaisms come with classic works of art. I'm just saying that the publishers of the next edition might usefully spend some money on a less unreliable English version; after all, they must have recouped the £250 [+ £100 ex gratia to Mendelssohn's widow] they paid for the copyright.

(I shouldn't have to add, but perhaps I'd better, that this doesn't make Elijah any less exciting to sing or listen to. I'm looking forward greatly to singing it with my choir next month. )


This is a puerile attempt at sounding archaic. Thither doesn't just mean there; it didn't in 1846 and it still doesn't.

b

Update 2015.10.14.16:20 – Added clarifications in maroon.

Update 2015.10.15.15:25 – Umble [sic] pie eaten.

I have wronged Bartholomew. He was presumably influenced by biblical translations (not always the ones relevant to the Elijah story). Of the four lapses I identified, three are explicable:

  1. seize on
    This is used only once in the King James Bible (which I'm assuming is the one Bartholomew was conversant with), and in the New Testament. But a biblical snippet like this would naturally have come to mind when Bartholomew was looking for words to match the rhythm of the German.
  2. we heard it with our ears§
    Again, this isn't taken directly from the Bible text, but it's strongly reminiscent of this:
    Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.
    [Jer. 26:11] 
  3. knees
    This is not in the German text in the Novello edition, but it is in the King James Biblealmost verbatim:
    Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal
    [1 Kgs 19:18]
    And it is also in the Lutheran bible that Schübring based his libretto on:
    Und ich will übriglassen siebentausend in Israel: alle Kniee, die sich nicht gebeugt haben vor Baal
    more

    In the KJV text, I think the all the makes it sound slightly less silly. But it's a fair cop:
    Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. 
Update 2015.10.19.15:15 – Final obsessive? shaft  added this footnote:

§ In an afterthought added to item 3  in this list of dubieties
<digression>
...I almost wrote infelicities – which would have been pleasing [in view of the composer's given name  – geddit, b-boum/tsh] but perhaps a little excessive. Besides, I rarely pass up the chance to use a word as luscious as dubiety ...
</digression>
...I cited the Lutheran Bible's Kniee (which I had previously said was 'a figment of Bartholomew's imagination'). The associated syntax, I had said, was 'his fault'.

Well, in a sense, it WAS. I was put onto the track of this line of enquiry by this extract from the Lutheran Bible (of the extract from The Book of Jeremiah, which I gave as precedent for '[we] heard it with our ears'):
Und die Priester und Propheten sprachen vor den Fürsten und allem Volk: Dieser ist des Todes schuldig; denn er hat geweissagt wider diese Stadt, wie ihr mit euren Ohren gehört habt.
More
Again, the bit of text that I had found questionable was in the Lutheran Bible [as far as I can tell from the only Lutheran text that I have found on the Internet – which can't have been the one Schubring knew [unless he had a DeLorean in the garage], but was not in Schubring's German text. Possibly (I think probably would not be an overstatement) there are many other bits of Bartholomew's translations that reinstate bits of Biblical text which Schubring had suppressed – presumably with Mendelssohn's approval (as their correspondence is quite detailed).

Bartholomew had a low opinion of the original librettist. On 23 June 1846 he wrote to Mendelssohn:
...I know not how so bad a scribe as he who penned the libretto could have been found;  words, nay even sentences were omitted... 
(Quotations from this and other correspondence are taken from F.G Edwards'  History of Mendelssohn's Oratorio 'Elijah' )
Poor Mendelssohn! Only months before (just before Christmas 1845) he had written at length to Schubring:
My dear Schubring,—I now send you, according to your permission, the text of 'Elijah,' so far as it goes. I do beg of you to give me your best assistance, and return it soon with plenty of notes in the margin (I mean Scriptural passages, etc.)... 
...Speaking is a very different thing from writing. The few minutes I lately passed with you and yours were more enlivening and cheering than ever so many letters.—Ever your
Felix
Bartholomew's 'so bad a scribe' must have tried Mendelssohn's loyalty.

For the revised version, Bartholomew seems to have largely had his way, with Mendelssohn struggling (successfully, in the case of the 'couch-watering' widow) against Bartholomew's scriptural conservatism. On 3 March 1847 he wrote to Bartholomew:
My dear Sir,—I have just received your letter of the 24th, and hasten to reply. I like all the passages of the translation you send me with but two exceptions. In No. 30, 'that Thou would'st please destroy me' sounds so odd to me—is it scriptural? If it is, I have no objection, but if not, pray substitute something else. And then in the new No. 8 [the widow scene]—the words from Psalm vi. which you hesitated to adopt are, of course, out of the question; but I also object to the second part of the sentence which you propose to add to the words of Psalm xxxviii. {6}, viz.: 'I water my couch,' etc. [Psalm vi., 6.]—I do dislike this so very much, and it is so poetical in the German version. So if you could substitute something in which no 'watering of the couch' occurred, but which gave the idea of the tears, of the night, of all that in its purity. Pray try!
But enough of this. I should redirect my energy into LEARNING THE NOTES.

Update 2015.11.22.12:25 – Added post-choral PS

PS One last reflection on Bartholomew: How long was the drought?

I don't have the text in front of me (as after the concert last night –  the fullest I've ever seen the Great Hall, and the first time I've ever heard such an enthusiastic ovation [deserved, especially by a brilliantly electrifying Elijah] – I returned my hired score), but Google tells me the German text, as originally set, in the passage where Elijah decides to go to Ahab, is Heute, im dritten Jahre, will ich mich dem Könige zeigen..., The original curse, mentioned in the opening bars, is these years there shall not be dew nor rain but according to my word – that is, it was up to Jehova when the water supply was to be reconnected. The baritone tune (in this later section, No 10) mirrors the opening curse, and the 'these' of the opening bars becomes 'three'.

This belief is no doubt partly due to that dritte. A simple textual translation of those German words would be "Today, in the third year, I will show the king..." But Bartholomew's extraordinary translation makes it oddly specific: 'Three years this day fulfilled, I will show myself unto Ahab..." Oddly specific and improbably, if you think about it; if it stops raining in, say March, it's not going to start again at precisely the same time of year; that'd be a MIRACLE. And Bartholomew has also mangled the sense in another way. Heute ... will ich zeigen...; it just happens to be im dritten Jahre [="in the third year"], not "precisely, to the day, at the end of the third year" [or as Elijah puts it in Bartholomew's text "three years this day fulfilled"].

I'm forced to the conclusion that the only way to be true to Mendelssohn's intentions would be to sing the German – not a welcome suggestion among singers who look forward, every few years, to singing words like "extirpate". 

Update 2015.11.23.15:40 – Added clarification in green.

Update 2015.12.05.23:30 – Added PPS

PPS: One last thing. Elsewhere I wrote this:
The going rate for the (musical) difference between heaven and earth seems to be about an octave. (This is an open goal for musicologists – my theoretical knowledge of music is minimal. Please comment if this needs another update.) Verdi, as I said, drops an octave from coeli to terra (after a bar containing higher notes).
I quoted from a couple of pieces (with a pretty interesting reflection on the way Fauré plays with his audiences expectations, TISIAS) , and was aware at the time that this tally needed adding to. I've just noticed one in Elijah, and though that post seems the obvious place to put it I think that would be an update too far –  it would be the fifth PS.

Earth-Heaven = 1 octave
(Excerpt from Elijah)
When in  the second half of the oratorio, Elijah is taken up bodily into Heaven (none of this rotting business – so common) the music steps up an octave, starting with the basses on E♭.

And Mendelssohn repeats the scale, and then gives both extremes to underline the point.



Update 2015.12.06.11:30 – Improved music snippet, updated footer and added this crossword clue:

Mine sea cow – sounds like our kind. (8)


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:  O
ver 50,000 views  and nearly 9,000 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.






.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Bon, Bom, Bueno, Buono...

Today's piece is the happy product of a note from the Apple of my Eye (who was only a pip 26 years ago), who alerted me to this. Before I had even listened to the examples ...
<mini_rant reason="Grumpy Old Git">
a pleasure which I may well deny myself in perpetuity, as I am still scarred by repeated hearings of that unspeakable snatch of The World in Union, which, let's face it, was pretty naff at the best of times, and must have had Elgar spinning in his grave (at 33 rpm, if not 78) even before Paloma Faith got her heinous tonsils around it – ye gods, can't a chap watch a bit of rugby without having that unholy row inflicted on him every few minutes. And I apologize to the many readers who won't have the first idea of what I'm talking about, but believe me you're better off not knowing.
</mini_rant>
...or read the linguist's comments, I was saying to myself  "Aha. Dipthongization, I bet."

The thing is, when you lean on something it distorts. This applies both to sitting on a thinnish plank, books weighing down the middle of a bookshelf, and to sounds. I referred briefly to this here, and would have left it at that had this BuzzFeed article not been brought it to my attention. I wrote in that post, about a failure to understand a non-dipthongized word,
The imperative singular of contar  was – according to the O-level grammar book I was using at the time – cuenta (the stress on the etymological o causing the diphthong). So, if I had reached the bit in the book that dealt with the position of object pronouns (doubtful), I would have expected cuéntanos in place of María Fernanda's 'Contános'.
The crucial bit is that parenthetical "(the stress on the etymological o causing the diphthong)". In the life of a language, a word such as the Vulgar Latin BONU[M], meaning "good"  can take various routes. Often the first syllable (tending to become the only syllable) is nasalized – as in French bon or Portuguese bom. But sometimes, like that bookshelf, the sound distorts when it's stressed; it changes shape and stretches, giving Spanish bueno and Italian buono. Sometimes, related words, with and without stress on the vowel, turn out with and without diphthongs, as in Spanish bueno/bonito. Still in Spanish, this happens with changing verb-endings – cuento/contamos (causing problems for the language learner, but not for the native speaker)
<autobiographical_note>
The young woman who said 'Contános'  that time, in Bilbao  in 1971, had the trick of using diminutive endings: her 'hasta lueguito' meant 'see you soon (but really quite soon'). Or for her, doing something early was often 'tempranito' (as temprano means "early").

I stored this away as a neat colloquial trick. But later, when I'd been formally introduced to dipthongization in my later Romance Philology studies, I did the same thing that toddlers do when overgeneralizing from a special case: "If the past of DRINK is DRUNK, the past of THINK must be THUNK"; I took the irregular bueno/bonito as a model for luego/loguito [that u doesn't affect the sound, if you were wondering; it's just there to keep the g hard]. So my advanced colloquialism pose didn't come off, and my "Hasta loguito" was met with deservedly blank stares.
<autobiographical_note>
This is still happening. A class-mate of mine, who had lived in O Porto, told our teacher that he had heard native speakers (of Portuguese) starting to diphthongize their home town's stressed vowel, so that it was tending towards the modern Spanish Puerto. Linguists call this early form a "labile (sic, not labial) diphthong". And it happens too in those Indie songs.

In the light of this ...
<rant>
People of  the British Isles, if you mean "in the light of", it would make an old man very happy if you were to SAY it [for Pete's sake]. I'm not saying it's wrong to omit the the if that's the way your speech community behaves, but I come over all UKIPpy when I think about the reasons for this (one of which involves British English speech communities being influenced by people whose first language is not English and who have learnt ESOL from American English sources). 
Of course, that's far from being the only (or even most influential) reason. Ever quickening [that's not quite the word; still, it's better than fastening] communications ["Internet Major, I'm looking at YOU", as Mr Chips might have said], films, TV, celebrity culture... the growing villagification of the world in general make it COOL to pretend you were born in Oxford Georgia (or even Oxford, Nova Scotia) rather than Oxford Oxfordshire. And once a few people start doing it, etymological erosion takes over. I'm not saying it's wrong, I know it's a lost cause, but while yet a drop remains/ Of the lifeblood in my veins, to quote the dying Viking, it's not a form of words I'm ever going to adopt (affect?).
Here are some numbers, in support of my assertion that "We British just don't talk like that'. But they are based on the British National Corpus, which – based on usages culled from speakers and writers up to 2008 – doesn't reflect the current situation (which I suspect shows the change from in the light of  to in light of as being much less far advanced than [I regret] it is). BNC shows a strong preference for "in the light of" (meaning in view ofconsidering, having regard to) over "in light of" (with no the). It has about 14 times as many hits (1798 as against 125).
COCA meanwhile, reflecting contemporary American usage, shows a much less strong preference in the other direction – 3 times as many hits for "in light of" as for its wordier rival: 4677 as against 1474.
In both cases, figures for the version with the are inflated by usages such as in the light of the silvery moon. In fact all COCA's hits may be of this kind (NOT meaning in view of, considering, having regard to). 
Oh well, I know I should  "lie back and think of linguistic determinism", but this sort of thing bothers me more than I know it should...
</rant>
Found in a park in Buenos Aires?
...derived words in languages with diphthongization can become irregular. The Jets say

Every Puerto Rican's a lousy chicken

But a native of Puerto Rican is un/a portorriqueño/a. [In fact, I have a feeling that in the original cast recording the Jets may have got it right,] And this might also explain the naming of Verbena Bonariensis. Its native land is South America; so it seems to me quite possible that the collector who first named it lived in Buenos Aires.

Time I was getting on.

b
PS A couple of clues:

Smart Alec, that is with a screw loose. (8)
Gin, for example, almost left a catch-phrase. (6)

Update 2015.11.22.11:20 – Added answers and updated TES stats.

WISEACRE and MANTRA.


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 e cvowel 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:  
Nearly 50,000 views  and 9,000 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, 8 October 2015

Always mount a scratch monkey

Tales from the word-face

Today's subject line is the punchline of a joke (or maybe anecdote?) that I heard in the halcyon days of DEC (and there's no doubt a good reason for naming a particularly enjoyable  period after a kingfisher [for that is what a halcyon is]; but I don't have time for the resear... Heck, why not go mad?...
<digression>
halcyon days
noun
a period of peace and happiness; an idyllic time; also, a period of calm weather during the winter solstice
 
Word Origin
Greek Alkyone a legend of fourteen windless days

 ... says Dictionary . com, so it was the other way around I guess, the bird being named after such windless days – and in mid-winter, rather than those lazy crazy hazy days of summer.... But, hang on, the truth is rather more interesting:
halcyon (adj.) Look up halcyon at Dictionary.com
"calm, quiet, peaceful," 1540s, in halcyon dayes (translating Latin alcyonei dies, Greek alkyonides hemerai), 14 days of calm weather at the winter solstice, when a mythical bird (also identified with the kingfisher) was said to breed in a nest floating on calm seas....
says Etymonline. Hmmm. For Further Study.... (as they used to say in the world of Nets-N-Comms standardization.
</digression>
I don't remember the joke, but I do remember it involved disaster recovery. Which has been on my mind since my little android thingy fell and broke its screen. That is, I was involved, but I didn't want it to fall; or break its screen for that matter.

But I had a day-old backup of my WVGTbk2 work, so I've only lost *il* words starting with s or the beginning of t. Not too bad really, and it's now all in the hands of the insurers. But normal service has taken a bit of a hit.

The silver-lining is that it's  forced me to start to get to grips with Linux.

bye for now.

Oh, and just because someone on Radio 4 this morning, talking about poetry,  provoked it...
<rant likelihood_of_deliverance_from_this_evil="none">
It's geneAlogy for Gad's sake. If you speak American English, you can stand down, as the American English /ɑ/ of anthropology is not unlike American English /æ/ of genealogy – not the British English /æ/, which is a whole nother thing. Sometimes my British English ear tells me they're identical. [I'm sure they're not, but the process of acquiring British English involves us in learning not to hear phonemic differences in languages that don't interest us {as speakers, that is, not scholars}])
</rant>
 b

PS A clutch of clues

  • Look in the centre of Galway for a patch over the water. (8)    GALLOWAY
  • Low centre of gravity takes cutting of holly. (4)                      VILE
  • End of bow with misinformation about Resistance. (4)           FROG
  • Musician, heathen (obvs.) (8)                                               PAGANINI
  • Alteration embracing beginning and end of leptocephali,         ALLITERATION
    in the spirit of this PS. (12)
Update 2016.06.21.12:50 – Added answers in red and deleted footer (getting there, slowly)

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Ten More Green Bottles

In 40 days as I type, on 21 November, my choir will be singing Elijah, which might never have included one of its best-loved arias. We shall be singing from Michael Pilkington's 1991 edition (called, on its title page,  New Novello Choral Edition  – as opposed to my old 1951 edition Novello's Original Octavo Edition (confusingly announcing itself as


NEW EDITION


on its title page [though it's as old as me].) 

Mendelssohn was a self-willed collaborator, as this exchange with an early [putative] librettist suggests:
1 November, 1838, Pastor Schubring to Mendelssohn: 
The thing [an early plan of Elijah] is becoming too objective – an interesting, even a thrilling picture, but far from edifying the heart of the listener....[W]e must diligently set to work to keep down the dramatic, and raise the sacred element, and always aim at this. 
2 November 1838, Mendelssohn to Schubring:
I am glad to learn you are searching out the... sense of the Scriptural words, but if I might make one observation, it is that I would fain see the exuberant and defined...
17 November, 1838, Schubring to Mendelssohn
I am more and more convinced that you will have to supply the principal part of the text yourself.
6 December, 1838, Mendelssohn to Schubring:
With regard to the dramatic element, there still seems to be a diversity of opinion between us. With a subject like "Elijah" it appears to me that the dramatic element should predominate.... [F]or heaven's sake let them not be a musical picture, but a real world, such as you find in every chapter of the Old Testament.
The dates of the letters tell their own story.  The second is dated the day after the first (which in fact was not really the first, as Schubring had written a shorter note the day before). Then Schubring mulls over the issue for over two weeks. Nearly three weeks later Mendelssohn replies. After that, two months went by before Schubring wrote again, 'and in this he makes it clear that the subject, at least on Mendelssohn's terms, is too much for him' (says my later edition). Schubring's career as librettist was chequered.

Aria no. 31, O rest in the Lord, had a chequered career too.  Mendelssohn's sparring partner this time was William Bartholomew, an employee of the original publisher, who wrote that 'he thought he could trace some resemblance to the melody of the song Auld Robin Gray' in the melody as originally written:



Mendelssohn protested:
I do not recollect having heard the Scottish ballad to which you allude, and certainly did not think of it, and did not choose to imitate it; but as mine is a song to which I always had an objection (of another kind), and as the ballad seems much known, and the likeness very strong, and before all, as you wish it, I shall leave it out altogether (I think)...
'[T]he likeness very strong'? Here's the beginning of the ballad:


The key's the same, trivially [no doubt editorial]; and the rhythms are similar (but by no means identical). The first five notes in ARG are moving step-wise up a scale, unlike Mendelssohn's. 

But Mendelssohn thought he'd leave it out altogether. Now it was Bartholomew's turn to protest; the biographer of Mendelssohn, F. G. Edwards (editor of my old score) wrote:
Bartholomew... begged him to retain the air, and to change a note or two...
Well in the end, at the eleventh hour (too late to do the job properly all through the aria, he moved the G of Herrn [Lord], the fifth note  of the tune (which itself is the fifth degree of the scale spooky or what?)  back down to C in the opening bars. But he either forgot or didn't bother to change that melody when it recurs twice in the coda:


It seems to me that Mendelssohn's youthful time in Scotland, which inspired both The Hebrides Overture and his 3rd Symphony – his first visit took place shortly before he wrote that original melody – almost certainly exposed him to Auld Robin Gray. But as readers of a very early post of mine will know,
Far be it from me to make any charge of  'plagiarism'; I believe in the 'Ten Green Bottles' theory of musical history. [I had previously mentioned
...words spoken by an MD of my youthful acquaintance: 'There has only been one tune written in the history of the world - "Ten Green Bottles".'
] 
.... But it's not just Pop and 'Classical' - those quotation marks are tweezers, registering my distaste ... [BK – I had previously been discussing a link between Handel and Eric Clapton] [A]s someone said in The Electric Muse (Robin Denselow, I think, but there were three others included in the et al) if you listen carefully to a Jack Bruce bass line (in a Cream number, if I remember rightly) you'll hear the folk song 'The Cutty Wren'.
Besides, I don't see what improvement Mendelssohn's rewrite represents.

Thankfully, Mendelssohn had his way, and Elijah is marked by 'appeal and rejoinder, question and answer, sudden interruptions etc' (as Mendelssohn had written to Schubring on 2 Nov. 1838).

But.... I was going to say a bit about word-painting. Only 8 more rehearsals to go though, so it'll have to wait for an update. I must go and do some note-bashing....

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 here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each e cvowel 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 49,300 views  and nearly 9,000 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.






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