Video: History of the Possessive
This is a fun video, and at first blush seems pretty accurate.
ObQuibble: I question the use of the year 450 as the benchmark for Old English. That’s about the time the first Anglo-Saxons were landing in England. Most of our evidence for the language comes from several centuries later. The earliest texts of any length we have are from the eighth century. And virtually all the poetry that survives was copied down in the tenth or eleventh centuries. So it’s not really a thousand-year jump from Old English to Chaucer in the late fourteenth. It’s more like 500–700 years.
The Violence Must End
Books Read, 2012
Like last year, I’m publishing a list of the books I’ve read over the previous year. There are about as many titles as last year, but the total word count is lower given that many of them are poems. But then, many are also in Old English, so reading is much slower and more intensive.
Many of the books were on my PhD special field reading list or critical works I read in preparation for that exam.
Those marked with an asterisk are re-reads. I’ve read them before.Read the rest of the article...
Hyphens: A Rant (So To Speak)
Although Jen Doll calls her piece a “rant,” it really isn’t one. It’s rare that a mass-market publication like The Atlantic prints a thoughtful article that effectively deals with the niceties and subtleties of punctuation, but this one on the hyphen is just that. Judging from my students’ essays, the hyphen, along with its cousin the dash, is probably the most misused punctuation mark, and Ms Doll’s article addresses the proper usage with understated wit and charm. If only more articles about pet peeves were like this one.
Plus, I learned something from this article. I had no idea that that an en dash was the proper mark to use in the adjective pre–Civil War. It seems, at least according to Chicago, that an en dash is used instead of hyphen when linking an open compound (i. e., Civil War) with another adjective or prefix.
[Tip o’ the Hat to Andrew Sullivan]
Ben Zimmer has a nice piece in today’s Boston Globe on how writer Tony Kushner came up with the authentic language used in Spielberg’s Lincoln.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton