Monday, 31 December 2018

Wringing out the old

Another of my occasional State of the Blog posts giving you a chance to see a stat display that is normally reserved for the blogger...
(not unlike all the other stats I've blogged about over the years... But what makes these different is that the others have been the default Overview,  whereas these indicate which posts rank in the top 10 of all time [Year Zero being 2012].)

Far and away the most visited, in spite of its age, is one about Latin phrases. It's coming up to six years old, and last time I looked the screen capture it was based on was missing. I've no idea what  makes it nearly nine times as popular as no. 2 on the list. I expect some Influencer has spread the word; maybe it's on a syllabus somewhere perish the thought.

The remaining nine fall into 4 broad groups:
  • Two that use the same Pedants of the world unite joke (2 and 6)
  • Three on various philological points  (3-5)
  • Three relatively recent ones (7-9)
  • One that, being on its own at no 10, is in no way a broad group; so sue me :-)
In an update (after the New Year's dust has settled) I'll add some links (though in the meantime you can search using dates (or guessed themes, if you're feeling really adventurous)  :-) But I want to get this out there before December 2018 goes down as The Month of the Solitary Post,

Happy 2019!


Update – 2019.01.02.16:55: Here are the links and a few descriptive pointers. I've also fixed a pretty gross typo, in blue.
  • no 1 The web page this originally pointed to is gone now but here‘s the jpg it used.
  • no 2  and  no 6 These are the two on pedantry.
  • no 3 no 4, and no 5 These are quite old (but rather fun,  TISIAS) philological stories.
  • no 7  , no 8 , and no 9   These three, despite their recency, make the top 10 because I plugged them in an MFL Teachers' group that, for reasons best known to Facebook (and I've given up beating my head on that cyber wall), I can no longer access.
  • no 10 On a machine translation boo-boo.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Shepherds Abiding on Ilkley Moor?

Thomas Clark was a cordwainer:  as Etymonline says

It's interesting how placenames and things to do with clothing are so often linked:  
  • jeans (via Jannes) > Genoa
  • muslin (via Mousseline) > Mosul 
  • milliner > Milan
  • calico > Kolkata (when it was known in English as "Calicut")
  • ...(I'm sure there are lots more)
Not to mention more direct connections, such as Jodhpurs or Balaclava helmet or Duffel coat (where the garment name is the name of a town). Cordwainer is a fairly distant connection; I imagine some shoe-makers never worked with that fine leather known in Old French as cordoan, which came originally from Córdova.
But Thomas did not take over the family business until 1823. Long before then he had made a name for himself as a composer. It was fully 18 years earlier that he published his melody "Cranbrook" in A Sett of Psalm & Hymn Tunes (1805) – a setting for the words 'Grace 'tis a charming sound'. It was then used as a setting for While Shepherds Watched their Flocks.
Now comes a link that was pointed out by the leader of my U3A Madrigals group, Francis Hayes. But it has been given the Harmless Drudgery treatment, so any error is no fault of his.
There's some uncertainty about what happened next. Wikipedia calls Ilkla Moor 'baht 'at a 'folk song' – though I'm not sure this comic song would pass the Cecil Sharp test. A plausible theory involves choir members on an outing:
Dr Arnold Kellett [HD: Author of The Yorkshire Dictionary] reports the traditional belief that the song "came into being as a result of an incident that took place during a ramble and picnic on the moor. It is further generally believed that the ramblers were all on a chapel choir outing, from one of the towns in the industrial West Riding".

The choir members may well have fitted new (and irreverent) words to a tune they knew and sang every week, just as years later rugby players would sing Why Was He Born So Beautiful to an existing hymn tune.

Whatever the details of its origin, the church dropped it like a hot pot.... Hmmm. Perhaps roast chestnut would be a more seasonally appropriate comparator.

And nowadays the setting known as 'Old Winchester' (dating from Este's Psalter of 1592) is more commonly used, and that is the version I will be singing on Saturday with Wokingham Choral Society:

But before that, at my rather less grand U3A Christmas gathering, I'll be singing 'Cranbrook' – and with any luck avoiding the more familiar words (not unlike the problem I blogged about here, with Joys Seven and The Lincolnshire Poacher).


Update: 2018.12.10.17:10 – Added PS
PS Incidentally, I find Wikipedia's over-rationalization (and so misrepresentation) of the dialect 'baht rather pitiful. This geek wants to make the word fit into what he learnt in Math 101:
The title is seen in various transcriptions of the dialect, but is most commonly On Ilkla Mooar [or Moor] baht 'at, i.e. "On Ilkley Moor without [wearing] the hat"; idiomatically "On Ilkley Moor without (i.e. bar) the hat".
RUBBISH. Bar doesn't come into it , as 'baht means without; if you want equivalences, the b represents the voiced fricative /ð/ and the t represents the final t of 'without' (rather than an imaginary definite article, as though the dialect version ended "t' 'at"). 'Without the hat' makes no sense, unless we know which hat he's talking about (such as "without the hat <someone> gave me for Christmas"); there is no definite article in 'baht 'at, and the Wikipedio-scribe should just accept it....Time for my medication...