Wednesday, 18 February 2015

What's a VINmelier?

The other morning I heard a quotewordunquote on the radio that saddened me hugely. Man‘s inhumanity to man is bad enough, but what he does (well, come to think of it , the perp was a she, not that women are notable for their crimes against lexicography) is, as they used to say, ‘the outside of enough‘.

The object of  my abreaction ...
When I first  met that one I thought I‘d never find a use for it. I have a suspicion my usage is questionable...
"(psychoanalysis) the release and expression of emotional tension associated with repressed ideas by bringing those ideas into consciousness" 
says Collins, so my version is an instance of semantic broadening.  Or,  to put it another way, vulgarism.
           but  it‘s a good try.
was selmelier – which I haven‘t found in any credible dictionary. Its earliest use that I can find is here – a post dated in 2011:
It isn’t in the dictionary (yet), but it’s a great twist on the French word sommelier (suh-muhl-yey), meaning a wine expert. A selmelier is someone who can suggest an appropriate gourmet salt to complement your food.
(This attributes the coining to Mark Bitterman (an aptonym if ever I heard one),  though I can‘t find it in the parts of  his 2010 book that Amazon will let me see. Anyway, it is a  [bastard?] child of the millennium.)

A "great" twist, the post says, though I can‘t say I share their enthusiasm. The first syllable of sommelier has nothing to  do with  wine. The etymology that etymonline provides traces it to saddle. And rather than quote the more interesting bits I‘ve done a whole screengrab, to capture the serendipity of the advert that Big Data chose to throw up:

So why did the neologizer treat it as though it  meant "wine" and behead the word, replacing it with another comestible? And, adding vulgar  pretension to ignorance, why did they first translate that word?

The reason, as some of you will have already shouted at their screen, is that that's the way people treat words when they feel the need to invent a new one. I've cited the example of gyro-copter somewhere in this blog I think [or maybe it ended up on the cutting room floor, along with many another digression].  A helicopter is,  etymologically, a helico- -pter. But, as helipad/port and gyrocopter demonstrate, successful neologisms pay little heed to etymology; insisting that they should  is another form of a tendency that I really have mentioned  elsewhere (in a footnote to this):
An interesting blog from the OED stables [ed. an apt place for saddle metaphors - I‘ve just realized, inconsequentially] refers to this tendency to be hung-up on a supposed 'original' meaning based on etymology and calls it the 'Etymological Fallacy'.
Another example that comes to mind is hamburger – originally a reference to a place rather than to a foodstuff. But cheeseburger, lambburger etc. (and indeed 'burger' itself) are proof that modern understanding and current needs trump etymology.

So "selmellier" is OK. [ But I reserve the right to treat it with the contempt that some people reserve for eXpresso, which cropped up on the TV the other day.  Susie Dent corrected Jimmy Carr's X, and some wag quipped "...unless you want it quickly  - then it‘s an eXpresso". Especially, I thought, if you're in a bistro. You can pick the bones out of that here.]

Is that the time?

Update 2015.03.13.15:30 – Updated TES stats (at last). Things are still a bit iffy; before the TEStizz

downloads of "BobK99"'s  one resource totalled well over 800.  The latest TES  mail says they‘ve gone down to just 9. On the other hand, downloads  of that one resource have   increased from 0 to 40.  Meanwhile "BobK"'s views have lost more than 1,000, and downloads increased by about 250. Still, I'm using the  new numbers (and resisting the temptation to edit a bunch of old posts ;-).

Update 2015.02.21.14:15 – Added this note:

PS I've come across another example, which I wrote about in an old post, taken from Brian Foster's  The Changing English Language.
 He writes:
'Cavalcade', etymologically a procession  of horsemen, has given rise in American English to a series of words in which the -cade element denotes the idea of 'spectacular display', e.g. aquacade, musicade and motorcade. Of these only 'motorcade' has penetrated into British use.... It remains to be seen  how productive this ending will be in Britain....
Well, he was writing in 1968 (or before), so I think we can stop holding our breath; -cade's hopes of becoming a productive suffix in British English, can wave  forlornly to that slow-moving motorcade, or cortège, that follows many a linguistic speculation like this.
Update 2015.05.14.09:35 –  Fixed a couple of typos.

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 46,500 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.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Let‘s get quizzical

You could do worse than to read this....(but that does not exclude the possibility of the writer‘s doing better). Shame. As so often,  the writer‘s heart is in the right place. I have said elsewhere that stuff that goes down well on the net...
<digression type="pps">
At the time of writing there are 31 generally approving comments.
..., even when imperfect, is often enlightening (provided that one treats it like a gourmet rather than a gourmand).  For example, of one piece I said:
As I often find, blog posts can be worth reading – even though the writing sets my teeth on edge [and after this there's what I regard as a rather pleasing digression about Monteverdi, not included here but you may like to judge that pleasingness for yourself here].
The aforementioned post is a list of grammatical lapses to avoid. This sort of thing is a bit of a bugbear of mine (see here and here, for example), but this one isn't an out-and-out lip-curler. Also, the author had the luxury of a proof-reader, which exposes my own unaided effort to 'ovifacial disfigurement'; (OK – I risk getting egg on my face). It does, though, fail to pass muster in a number of respects (while generally offering good advice).

Here are a few nits:

Nit 1

Quite. I discussed this here

As I said there:

Ermm, up to a point. When I've heard it ["affect"" as a noun] used in real life
<digression theme="crossword_clue">
I'm a cold prat, 
mixed up and shunning daughter – suitable treatment for Lear? (10)
OK, this one calls for knowledge of a trade-name, so I'm giving the answer in a footnote. [Citalopram]
it has meant the ability to feel 'emotion or desire', or – as COD puts it – 'emotion or desire as influencing behaviour'

So it's a bit of a shame that, having got it right about each word being syntactically two-faced, it gives examples of only the more common uses, and gives a misleadingly curtailed definition for the noun 'affect'.

What‘s more, what has ‘desired‘ got to do with anything? Admittedly "desired effect" is a common collocation;  this search of BNC suggests that  if you say or write "desired" followed by  a noun there‘s a good chance that the noun will be "effect". Instances of "desired effect" outnumber the combined total of the next four most common collocations. But the desire of the ‘effecter‘ has only an incidental effect on the... erm... thing.  

Nit 2

Indeed. But again in the effort for brevity something's been left on the cutting room floor. 'A basis for comparison [sing/plur]' isn't really good enough. Criteria are a set of things (e.g. values) that form a basis for judgement

Speaking of which ("e.g.", that is)...

Nit 3

It is? Someone's been remembering their Latin lessons a bit over-enthusiastically; "That is." And the example given for 'i.e.' is just wrong.; i.e. doesn't mean 'As a result, or 'Consequently'. In an expression of the form "A i.e. B",  A and B have to be syntactically and/or semantically parallel; for example 
"... the design  came out differently than [...sorry about that – I‘m trying to be even-handed (using the original example) – although "differently than" sticks in my craw] his vision i.e. the results did not reflect his intentions."

Nit 4


Yes; but 'to be certain of' is unfortunately ambiguous (do I mean 'unfortunately'  – or 'flamboyantly'?).

Nit 5

Yes; but it's a shame the writer missed my favoured 'loth' (mentioned here).  Maybe it's not an option for Americans (poor mites!); and of course the related and under-used 'nothing loth'.

Nit 6

Yes. My mnemonic is 'a pal is a person'. So what is the 'example' supposed to exemplify? It‘s OK – it exemplifies a possible use of the word. Possible – just not the one in question.

Nit 7

Up to a point. It rather depends on what your feelings are about defining and non-defining relative pronouns; or, rather, on what your chosen house style dictates. In some views either of these can be used of a person, 'who' in a non-defining clause and 'that' in a defining one. Not everyone has swallowed Strunk and White hook, line, and sinker (if that's this nostrum's source, as I suspect; whenever a native speaker of American English pontificates about grammar, S&W is the prime suspect in my view). Perhaps this is a British English thing – because of the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer we're more tolerant of syntax that some regard as archaic. I‘m one of the people THAT [ahem] don't mind either way.

Anyway... Time's wingèd chariot  is, as ever, snapping at my heels.

PS – Having used the tag crossword clue to point to an old one, I feel I should...
Island clobbered Uncle Sam (9)

Update 2015.02.14.17:20 – Added afterthought in red.

Update 2015.02.15.11:55 – Added embedded PPS.

Update 2016.03.10.16:05 – Crossword answered, and deleted footer:


Saturday, 7 February 2015

She ain‘t Hevae...

...she‘s my mother.

This, believe it or not, is† (or at least was) my school song. My subject line is a reference to the phrase split here over the second and third lines:
        Ad te clamamus,          exsules filii  Hevae
which was translated in the rather florid version I learnt at my mother‘s knee (or, rather, Aunty Katy‘s knee) as

To thee do we cry
Poor banishedu/d children of Eve

"Children of Eve"

But in Rossini‘s Salve Regina, which my choir will be singing next month (as an addition to the main piece), the text is "Salve Regina... Madre in ciel... de tuoi figli abbi pietà" [="Hail Queen... mother in heaven.. have pity on your children"]. There‘s no mention  of Eve in the Rossini version. (In fact the words are very different, although the two prayers have a few phrases in common.)

Which may account for two facts:
  1. The printed score is entitled...
        Regular readers will know how I feel about 'titled'.  The rant in red here will fill you in.

    ...Ave Maria. which seems to be the default name for anything Marian (see here for examples). I note that Classic  FM use it to refer to Rachmaninoff's Bogoroditse Devo.
  2. The Wikipedia article on this antiphon doesn't list Rossini among its many musical  setters (admittedly in a list that doesn‘t claim to be exhaustive).
Ho hum... so little time, so  many digressions, as I've said before.

Tales from the word-front

I nearly have an MO for the new book. The only cloud on the horizon is the brain-dead book creator I‘m using. I plan to see whether it  can be brought up to snuff, and to make available a smallish extract (words that include the letters *al*) in  mid-late Spring (Northern Hemisphere, since you ask ).


Update 2015.02.08.11:00 – Added this note:

† (...and, if my reading of the script is right, with this very tune)

Update 2015.02.08.14:40 – Added parenthesis in red.

Update 2015.02.23.10:40 – Added textual correction
u/d I‘ve just looked more closely at that Latin text. It says "Ad te clamamus exsules, [sic] filii Hevae". So the Englished version was not just "rather florid", but had a  different spin. Without the comma, the children of Eve, being exiled, are crying; the exile is an afterthought – just a bit of background information. With the comma, it seems to me that the exile is the reason for the crying.

Update 2017.09.10.20:50 – Added PS

PS –  I‘ve deleted the old footer. And the first bit of the new When Vowels Get Together book is here.