12 Grammar Myths
Jonathan Owen over at the Arrant Pedantry blog has a list of twelve mistakes that people tend to make when opining about “grammar.” It’s a comprehensive and sensible encapsulation. (I’ve been trying to compile a similar list for the past few years, but keep getting distracted.)
Video: The Making of a Book, 1925
Running eighteen minutes, this film is a bit long, but it’s a must see for anyone interested in the history of publishing. The 1925 silent film documents the entire process of creating a book, from creating the type to loading the volumes on a truck for distribution. It features Oxford’s Clarendon press and at some points you see the Oxford English Dictionary being printed and bound.
Tip o’ the Hat to Lexicon Valley
Hwæt you say?
The opening line of Beowulf has always posed a bit of problem for translators:
Hwæt! We Gar-Dena in geardagum,
þeodcyninga þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
The problem is exactly what the word hwæt is doing. Hwæt is the etymological ancestor of the modern what, but the Old English word’s semantic and grammatical functions are not the same as the modern word’s. Most translators have treated it as an exclamation, along the lines “listen!” or “lo!” rendering the line as something along the lines of:
Read the rest of the article...
Listen! We have heard of the glory of the folk-kings of the Spear-Danes in days past, how the noble ones performed acts of courage.
Internet Quotes: Camus on Autumn
[This is the first in what will be an irregular series of posts on various quotations posted to the internet. The internet is a wonderful source of information, but when it comes to quotations it is abysmal. I’ll lay good money down, giving odds, that any given quotation taken from the internet is defective in some way. ]
A friend of mine posted a picture of some autumn leaves to her Facebook feed today, and inscribed on the picture was:
Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower.
A nice sentiment, a bit treacly for my taste, but nice nonetheless. But alarms bells went off in my brain when I saw the quotation was ascribed to Camus. The sentiment didn’t sound like the dark and gloomy writer that I was familiar with. But hey, people write all sorts of different things, and maybe Albert penned this in one of his more manic moments.
So I set out to look it up.Read the rest of the article...
Watson’s Potty Mouth
It seems that the IBM Watson computer, the one that bested the Jeopardy! champs, developed a foul mouth after being given access to the Urban Dictionary. Watson is seven years old; so the behavior seems age appropriate.
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton