Book Review #26

I don’t read anything, just to tick off boxes on someone else’s Challenge list.  I have however, recently read two candidates for ‘A Book Published Before You Were Born.’  I reread the micro-short story, The Cask of Amontillado, by Edgar Allen Poe.  When I downloaded it from the Internet, a note appeared below, saying, People who researched this, were also interested in…. and showing several other old titles, including Herman Melville’s, Bartleby the Scrivener.  I’ve never read it, and free is my favorite flavor.

Published 1853

Back in the ’60s, Ajax Cleanser had a series of TV ads where they claimed that their product was Stronger than dirt.  Since I am Older Than Dirt, it’s a struggle to find interesting books that old.

The book: Bartleby the Scrivener

The author: Herman Melville

The review:
The entire book is an un-named narrator, relating the tale of the strange actions and attitudes of a clerk that he employed.  The titled Bartleby was hired by a lawyer as a scrivener, a man who produced handwritten copies of deeds, and wills, and other legal documents, in the age before typewriters, Xerox machines, or computers.

Bartleby drove his employer to distraction.  He produced mountains of perfect copies, but quietly refused to perform any other menial task, such as proof-reading other clerks’ work, or going to the Post Office, with statements like, ”At present I might opt for not to be a bit reasonable.”

Despite it being locked up at close of work hours, the lawyer discovered that Bartleby somehow was living in the offices.  Eventually, he refused to do any work, yet continued to firmly but politely, decline to leave the premises.

While the book is 170 years old, I can’t believe that people of the time spoke, or wrote, like this.  It must have just been the author’s idiosyncratic technique.  The entire book reads like one of those machine-translated spam comments you receive.  Scores of words with two or more definitions were used with the wrong meaning in the context of the passage.

After a few phrases touching on his qualifications, I engaged him, satisfied to have among my corps of copyists a person of so singularly sedate an issue, which I notion might perform beneficially upon the flighty temper of Turkey, and the fiery certainly one of Nippers.

Turkey and Nippers were the nicknames of two of the narrator’s other law clerks.  A third was Ginger Nut, because his desk drawer was often full of shells of various nuts, which he irritated the office by cracking and eating while at work.

The fiery Nippers, among other strange actions, had been known to grasp up a ruler, point it at the cease of the room, (taken to mean ‘the far end’) and shout, “Fee the foe!”,  an expression that neither Bing, nor Google, nor Dictionary.com are aware of.  After some thought, I came to assume that the first word should be fie??  An expression of mild disgust or annoyance.

His fourth copyist, is rendered as ¼.  The third key to his private apartment, is described as .33.  It’s a one-trick-pony, or a one-joke-book.  It never sold widely.  It was mildly amusing for what it was, but not terribly deep, or socially significant, and always slightly confusing.  Ah well, it was an adventure.  Despite being as old as it is, it ticked off a box in another blogger’s Challenge.  When was the last time you tried something new?  😕

There Are No Words To Describe It

When I claimed that there is no English language, John, our jovial trivial videographer asked, “How do they know English has no original words?”

I responded that, “I know, because I’ve historically researched it for years, especially when I was tracing my ‘Scottish’ roots.  The results of that search are at It’s In The Jeans, if you’re interested.

Let’s start 2000 years ago, when what would later become England, was sparsely settled, and the language was the various dialects of Celtic tribes, like the Iceni, whose Queen Boudicca (Boadicea) was so badly treated by the invading Romans.

The Romans added many words to the mix, including much Latin, but only the officers were “Romans.”  The spear-carriers and their polyglot languages came from all around the Mediterranean.  Traders from far and wide visited the shores also.  Christ’s uncle, Joseph 0f Arimathea, supposedly traded along the western coast, bringing Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

Around 900 AD, the Germanic Jutes, Angles, and Saxons arrived, making themselves and their languages at home.  The Jutes somehow just disappeared, but the Angles and Saxons became “Anglo-Saxon.”   The ‘Angle land’ kingdoms became the ‘England’ of today.  Their language mixed with the Romano-Celtic, with additions from Scottish Picts, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Welsh, becoming Old English, a term only applied today.

A hundred years later, William the Conqueror, invaded the island.  He was the king of the French province of Breton, bringing the term ‘Britain’ to the language.  Many new words and terms were added.  Although consumption was in French, production was still in ‘English.’  Veau, boeuf, porc, and poulet were eaten by French nobles as veal, beef, pork, and poultry, while peasants still raised ‘English’ calves, cows, pigs, and chickens.

Norse Vikings, whose language also carried much Germanic influence, began raiding, and settling, adding some of their words to the olio.  The rise of the British Empire brought back words from all over the globe, Asia (Hong Kong), and hundreds from India.

The Kings and Queens of Europe were all inter-related, bringing in words from Spain, France, Italy, Poland and Russia.  The British Royal Family were German Battenbergs until WW I forced them to become English Mountbattens.

As new words were added, old terms fell out of use.  Some old English words are still in dictionaries as archaic.  Shewed and shewn became showed and shown, and thee, thou, thy and thine became you, your and yours.

It’s like trying to nail fog to a tree. There never was (and still isn’t) a time when there was a true English language.  It all came from somewhere else.  It is the tongue of immigrants, traders and conquerors – and a most excellent tool for communication.

Word is, that there will be another, fascinating post here in two days.  I will use these immigrant words to describe how elated I am that you visit.  😀

To Put It Another Way – I

I continue to be amazed and disappointed, yet entertained, by the many ways people find to misuse the English Language.  😳

Pros

It seamingly permeates all of society – You seemingly don’t know one word from the other.

Leaving them so depended on others – That is dependent on knowing the correct word

The powerful engine enabled verticle takeoff – That’s just straight-up wrong.

They’d sell corpses to medical schools for extra mullah. – If they’d had a little extra moolah, they could have hired someone to teach them that a mullah is a Muslim teacher/priest.

Amateurs

Calm in sense seems a tad uncommon – but such misusages are all too common.

God will reign down blessings – the correct spelling of rain being one of them.

Feb 21th – I don’t know what to say??!  😯

HE’S NOT JOKING

How many liberls does it take to CHANG a Log by bolb????
NONE!!!! THEIR too BUsy changing?????? their chender

From week to wicked, building a hot rod – That spelling is weak – and wicked

I was waiving my hand – to renounce the incorrect spelling of waving

Proof is easy to fine – and misusage is easy to find

Working in retail is a right of passage – But you didn’t use the right rite.

It wheats my appetite for more – My wheats are shredded, so I use whets.

It could have been their deminer – But it was more likely their demeanor.

 

I Know My Comedy

I said to myself, “Self,” (and I knew it was me, because I recognized my voice, and I was wearing my underwear) “Today is going to be a great day!”

***

I’m sick of following my dreams.
I’m just going to ask them where they are going, and hook up with them later.

***

An elderly man is on the operating table, about to be operated on by his son, a famous surgeon. Just before they put him under, he asks to speak to his son: “Don’t be nervous, boy. Just do your best. But remember … if it doesn’t go well and something happens to me … your mother is going to come and live with you.”

***

After a young couple brought their new baby home, the wife suggested that her husband should try his hand at changing diapers.  “I’m busy,” he said, “I’ll do the next one.”  The next time came around and she asked again.  The husband looked puzzled, “Oh! I didn’t mean the next diaper. I meant the next baby!”

***

In light of recent police statements that they no longer feel it necessary to attend the scene of domestic burglaries, I have taken down the American flag from beside the house, and peeled the burglar alarm sticker off the front door.  We’ve disconnected our burglar alarm system and quit the Neighborhood watch.

I bought two Pakistani flags on eBay, and planted them in the front gardens, one at each corner, plus a black ISIS flag in the center.  Now the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, and every other alphabet agency is watching the house 24/7.

We’ve never felt so safe, and we’re saving $49.99 a month.

***

A con man was arrested for selling bottles of a fluid that he claimed slowed the aging process.  One cop says to his partner, “We better check his record.  He may have tried this before.”  His buddy reports back, “You’re right.  He tried this in 1955, 1893, and 1831.”

***

Archon: “My girlfriend accused me of not being faithful to her.”

Friend: “What did you say to her?”

Archon: “I said, “What would make you think that? She said, ‘You seem to always hang around Rachael.”

Friend: “What happened?”

Archon: “Unfortunately, the voice from my closet said, “It’s Rochelle, not Rachael.”

***

There is nothing worse than hearing people attempt to sound intelligent by using big words, and MISUSING them.

I totally photosynthesize with this.

***

Never sing in the shower!  Singing leads to dancing, dancing leads to slipping, and slipping leads to paramedics seeing you naked.  So remember…Don’t sing!

***

An old farmer has a small orchard and is collecting fruit in a bucket. As he works his way back into the trees, he hears laughing and splashing coming from a pond behind the orchard. He doesn’t particularly like the idea of people on his property, so he goes to the pond to see who’s there. He suspects it’s college kids since there is a college nearby.
As he comes out from behind the trees, he sees a half dozen college girls are skinny-dipping in his pond. He clears his throat so they’ll know he’s there. The girls scream and swim out to the middle of the pond. “Go away!” they shout. “Are you spying on us? What are you doing here?” “Well,” the farmer answers slowly. “You see, I own this pond…” Then he holds up the bucket, “…and I came to feed the alligator.”

***

“I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life…

Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes.”

Tell Me If You’ve Heard This One – V

Agon (noun) [AH-gahn]
Conflict, especially the dramatic conflict between the main characters in a literary work.
The family feud in “Romeo and Juliette” is a famous agon.

Billow (verb) [BIL-oh]
to swell up, to puff out, as by the action of wind
Held by two men, the flag billowed within their grasp as though it could unfurl any moment.

Clishmaclaver (noun) [klish-muh-kley-ver, kleesh]
Scottish: gossip, idle or foolish talk
There was no way that Robbie Burns Day would be cancelled.  It was utter clishmaclaver.

Ekistics (noun) [ih-kis-tiks]
The scientific study of human settlements, drawing on diverse disciplines, including architecture, city planning, and behavioral science.
(Look out!  Big Brother is watching you.)

Gewgaw (noun) [gyoo-gaw, goo]
Something gaudy and useless, trinket, bauble
The tourist market was filled with nothing but counterfeit handbags and gewgaws – objects that no-one really wanted

Gleek (verb) [gleek]
Archaic: To make a joke, to jest
First recorded 1540 – 50, of uncertain origin  (Let’s Blame the Scots.)
In Shakespearean plays, joking was referred to as gleeking

Impecunious (adjective) [im-pi-kyoo-nee-uh s]
Having little or no money, penniless, poor
The dot-com crash left him impecunious, with not a cent to his name.

Moira (noun) [moy-ruh]
A person’s fate or destiny
She believed that it was her moira to win a gold Olympic medal.

Naissance (noun) [ney-suh ns]
A birth, an organization, or a growth, as that of a person, an organization, an idea, or a movement.
The naissance of the Civil Rights Movement occurred on college campuses.

Pilgarlic (noun) [pil-gahr-lik]
A person regarded with mild or pretended contempt or pity
Chris was a bit of a pilgarlic, untrusted and untrustworthy.

Pyknic (adjective) [pik-nik]
Characterised by shortness of stature, broadness of girth, and powerful musculature
Even though he had a pyknic build – short and stocky – he was well-known for his brute strength.

Remonstrate (verb) [ri-mon-streyt]
To say or plead in protest, objection, or disapproval
The decision to trade the popular player caused many fans to remonstrate.

Shimony – also Simony (noun)  [sehy-muh-nee, sim-uh]
the making of profit out of sacred things.
the sin of buying or selling ecclesiastical preferments, benefices, etc.
1175–1225; Middle English simonie <Late Latin simōnia; so called from Simon Magus, who tried to purchase apostolic powers; see Simon (def. 5)-y3
This is the word which my son, Shimoniac, bases his online identity on.

Whatsis (noun) [hwuhts-iss, hwots-,wuhts-, wots-]
A thing or object whose name one does not know, or cannot recall
Having momentarily forgotten the word for “stapler,” he asked his colleague to bring him the whatsis.

Word is, there’ll be another great post in a couple of days.  See you there.  Don’t be late.  You know how grumpy my ego can get, if it hasn’t been fed.  👿

WOW #72

I just have an irresistible urge to tell you about my new dog.  He’s a cute little thing.  He’s a registered Greek sheep-herding dog.  He doesn’t empty his bladder or his bowels in the house, but he does wander around shedding excess vowels all over the floor. We call him

Cacoethes.

His name is from the Greek language, meaning an irresistible urge – mania.  It originally meant of bad character – caco – ethos.  I’m the bad character that he has to deal with.

I’m using him to ride herd on a bunch of other Greek terms that came in through the back door, into the English language – words like cacophony – which is a loud, disagreeable noise – or euphony, which is a lovely sound, like a teller counting out $50 bills for you – or euphemism, which is a pleasant word or phrase, substituted for a harsh or offensive one – or utopia – which means a pleasant or perfect place, but who parked too close to the dictionary, and got its initial letter E knocked off – or Phi Beta Kappa – which means a loud obnoxious frat keg toga party.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s all hyperbole, anyway.

I have found a euphemism being used by (those who wouldn’t say s**t if they had a mouthful) people of delicate sensibilities, but who don’t seem to understand either English or Greek.  The phrase “fucked the dog” means idled, lazed, shirked work or other responsibility.  It is being replaced, even by some reputable authors, with the supposedly less offensive, “screwed the pooch”, but which means erred, or messed up, particularly at a significant junction.  Not the same thing at all.

My dog’s an alpha.  If there’s any screwing going on, he’s the one doing it.  Some of those sheep have a worried look.  I’m not worried.  I look forward to having you visit and read again soon.  😀

’21 A To Z Challenge – Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sugar and spice, and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.

Snakes and snails, and puppy-dog tails
That’s what little boys are made of.

Folks – some of them smart and educated – used to think that people, and the Universe, were made of some strange things.  They thought that all things were made up of four ‘Elements.’  Not elements like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, but the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  You can build a fire, but I don’t know how even God could build anything except panic and destruction, from fire.

Having been constructed of the four ‘Elements,’ the human body then somehow related to them with the four humors of Black bile, Blood, Yellow bile, and Phlegm.  Our ancestors seemed to be a dour lot, not having any room for silly, playful, happy, or even Woke.

Four Humors – And there’s the humor of it: Shakespeare and the four humors (nih.gov)

Black bile – Earth – melancholic
Blood – Air – sanguine
Yellow bile – Fire – choleric
Phlegm – Water – phlegmatic

The four humors somehow worked the body through hot, cold, moist, and dry, but in hot/moist, hot/dry, cold/moist, and cold/dry combinations.

The four Humors were also known as the Four Essences, which, at long last, brings us to today’s word.

QUINTESSENTIAL

Having decided that only four Essences comprised and controlled the human existence and behavior, they realized that there were actually times and situations where a Fifth (Latin – quinta) Essence was present, or required – that indefinable, indescribable property that made a genius, a genius, or a great leader, a great leader.

Today’s archaic word was brought to you with a smile, by toast and crab-apple jelly.  Wednesday’s post will use more modern words to complain about how “Black Friday” isn’t really over, but like a zombie, keeps lurching onward as Black Friday Weekend, and Black Friday Week sales.  Then I’ll really get into character by ranting about all-Christmas carols, all the time, from now till the 25th.  😉

’21 A To Z Challenge – O

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to stand ars est celare artes on its head.  Throw a lot of words at it, especially big, impressive ones, and some foreign terms, to make readers think that you’ve actually done a lot of work, then drag out the theme-word

OPEROSE

Industrious, as a person.
Done with or involving much labor.

It comes from the same base as opus, and opera, which is a lot of labor and a slew of words, meaning ‘two hours of shut-the-fuck-up – in a foreign language.’  The same amount of loud music and incomprehensible lyrics can be had at an AC/DC concert, with the added benefits of free herbal enhancement, and not having to get all dressed up.

The same dress code is in effect while reading my opus-es.  You can view my stuff in your pajamas – or NO pajamas – as long as you remember to turn the web camera off.  I gotta look busy now.  The boss is coming.  Bring some croissants for Wednesday.  I’m working hard, making some jam.  😀

We Don’t Speak Much English

Oh, we all speak English.  Compulsive, competitive, conversationalists like me speak/write more than most – but, how many words are there in the English language?

Many people estimate that there are more than a million words in the English language. In fact, during a project looking at words in digitized books, researchers from Harvard University and Google in 2010 estimated a total of 1,022,000 words, and that the number would grow by several thousand each year. The Oxford English dictionary expands every year to keep up with new words that are invented to describe the world around us, or to include new meanings for words that already exist in English. A more useful number from the Oxford English Dictionary would be the 171,476 words that are in current use, and about 45,000 which are archaic, and are not used in modern English..

That’s still a lot of words, though, and doesn’t reflect the number of words that individual English speakers actually use. For that number, let’s look at a recent study by the people at testyourvocab.com who say that adult native-speakers of English have a vocabulary that ranges from the McJob-holder’s 5000-10,000, most people’s 20,000-35,000, and smarty-pants show-off word-jugglers like me, who keep 50,00 to 70,000 words in the air at all times.

Obviously, these are not the same words and everyone’s vocabulary will include different words, according to their career, education and interests.  Every line of work has its own specialized ‘Jargon.’  The language, especially the vocabulary, peculiar to a particular trade, profession, or group:  The word pneumothorax isn’t going to show up, except at a Reno convention of surgeons.

There are three key numbers to remember: more than a million total words, about 170,000 words in current use, and 20,000-30,000 words used by each individual person.  No matter how many each of us use – we don’t speak MUCH English.

Truth be told, there is no “English language.”  Other languages are cohesive and logical.  English is like the Lost and Found at an international airport.  It (kinda) started with Briton Celtic, then the Romans added Latin, and words they dragged in from Greek.  The Jutes, Angles, and Saxons moved in to rule the island, and brought lots of Germanic words, and more Latin from their Roman occupation.

The Vikings brought fire and sword, and Norse words with them.  Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic and Welsh, had their way with the tongue, and then the French invaded, bringing lots more Latin-based terms.  The “English” language, and those who speak it, continue to drag back words everywhere, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe – from Aleut to Zulu.

Many times the kidnapped words are not used as they were in the host language.  In English, we sing the little song, Frère Jacques as ‘Brother John,’ but ‘Jacques’ in French, does not mean Jack = John in English.  It means Jacob = James.  We should be singing about Brother Jim.

I started this post because I found the word, ”matutinal” – meaning: pertaining to or occurring in the morning; early in the day, From the French word, Matin = morning.  When the French have a matineé, it occurs in the morning.  When we have a matineé, it happens in the afternoon.

Words become part of the accepted English language, the same way immigrants become citizens of a country – by naturalization.  If it’s used often enough, and for long enough – it’s English.  Some words/phrases just aren’t used enough, or they remain trapped in some jargon, and never become naturalized.

Cri de Coeur and voir dire, are heard, but remain French.  Ad Populum, actus reus and mens rea, remain Latin.  Pizza and Pizzazz have become part of English, but the musical word, pizzicato, remains Italian.

Even though I might only employ 5% of the English vocabulary, I’m happy to have more than enough words to interest, entertain and amuse you.  There’ll be another random offering in a couple of days.  😀

Smitty’s Loose Change #16

Insanity is believing your hallucinations.
Religion is believing other people’s hallucinations.
Too often, its adherents can’t face reality, and force others to play make-believe.

***

Quite often, Christian Apologists don’t believe some or all of the problematic passages in the Bible.  In fact, they pride themselves and measure their intelligence by how much of the nonsense and contradictions that they reject.  But they just can’t seem to take it to the logical conclusion.

***

Semantic Satiation
You know that thing that happens when you read or hear the same word over and over and over and it starts to sound weird, not like itself, and like gibberish? There’s a word for it: “semantic satiation.”  It’s thought to be a brain form of reactive inhibition, which is a fancy phrase for your body getting tired of doing stuff over and over and over. Basically, when you hear a word, your brain grabs the meaning to the word and associates them for you. But when a word is repeated in a short period, your brain has to grab its neural dictionary over and over, and gets less excited about having to do so each time, eventually just saying, “Whatever,” which is when you just completely lose meaning.

***

More Names – More Fun

I am fascinated by names, because many of them have origins and meanings that even the holders often don’t know.

I was recently followed by HariSeldon2021.  Hari Seldon is a character from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  Sadly, this one doesn’t have a website, so that I can’t read his work, to find why he chose such an interesting and enigmatic name.

The German name Stemmler means stammerer. While
The German name Steffler began with a reference to a German king named Steffen, and means crown.

A vendor at the local Farmers’ Market is Gerber Meats.  A gerber originally was a skinner, or a leather tanner.  I find it amusingly ironic that the name that began with an interest in the outside of cows, is now interested in what’s on the inside of cows.

I recently learned of an Italian actor, named Violante Placido – which translates to violent, peaceful.  She’s a woman.  I only hope that her parents had a (twisted) sense of humor.

I have taken to carefully scanning the obituaries each day, to be sure my photo isn’t there.  Actually, I add up the ages of the deceased, and divide, to get the average age of death and compare it to mine.  Recently I saw an announcement of the death of a man with the surname, Posthumus.

Eurofoods, my local Polish deli sells two checkout papers.  One is Faptu Divers, which means ‘various facts’ or various pieces of information – more colloquially, gossip rag.  The other is Goniec, which can be a (courier) runner, an aide, or a (chess) Bishop – loosely translated nosy paparazzi.  The Tattler, and The National Enquirer, would be proud of their European cousins.

I walked past a car recently, and stopped to inspect its custom vanity plates.  They read OYEZX3.  Oyez!  Oyez!  Oyez!  It is apparently owned by a court clerk, or bailiff.  😯

Either one guy composes all the crosswords in the US, or there is a continent-wide conspiracy theory.  I do a crossword in the local paper, and 2 crosswords per day from the Toronto Sun.  One is from the NY Times, and the other is from the LA Times.  I recently achieved a trifecta of identical clues/solutions in all, on the same day.  “Game Of Thrones” actor Clarke = Emilia.  Greek god pictured with wings and a bow = Eros.  While the clues were not exactly the same, General whose reputation is battered, was General Tso.

***

With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals, respect and intelligence become a trend again.