Friday, 18 May 2012

Serious writers, silly pictures

A quick note to guide you to this amazing page:

Which is a blog post entitled 'Photos of Extremely Serious Writers Doing Extremely Silly Things'. Perhaps a display for the next World Book Day?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Well aren't I a muppet?

1) I had forgotten that I had spotted a 'snapper-up of unconsidered trifles' in the person of Autolycus, brilliantly played by Tony Bell in The Winter's Tale.
2) 'The game's afoot'. Source? No, not Sherlock Holmes. Henry V. I'm an idiot.

I have had Holmes on the mind a little, however, as I have been reading A Study in Sherlock  which is a collection of short stories inspired by the great detective. I bought it because of the story A Case of Death and Honey by Neil Gaiman, and then read the rest. It is passingly interesting that a Holmes fan in the UK is a Holmesian, whereas in the US they would be a Sherlockian. But the really funny thing was reading a story by an American writer (as the majority of them are) which had several American Holmes collectors flying to the UK to stay at the home of another collector who lived on Dartmoor. Coming down to breakfast in this grand house the narrator described eating 'egg, bacon and a scone'. This is because the nearest equivalent to the US 'biscuit' is a scone - only more savoury. It's scone-like in texture (presumably because both are made with milk) but bread like in taste, I suppose. From a British point of view probably the things you put on top of a beef cobbler are the nearest thing. But no English house would ever serve a scone with breakfast. You might have a potato scone with breakfast in Scotland - but that is another thing entirely. I have now lost the point of this, except that it might  vaguely be to do with words and things. Oh, and go see Propeller. See them do anything.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Crack another eggcorn

I know that I've written about eggcorns before [small delay while I truffle off through the new Blogger interface to find the right link] but I've just read an email that resulted in me looking something up.

I saw a student last week and thought I saw a 'sea change'. Another tutor saw her a few days later and saw a 'seed change'. That's odd, I thought. Being aware that my English has two characteristics 1) words I learned through reading that I consequently have no idea how to pronounce and 2) words I learned through family speaking that I have never seen written down anywhere, I went off in search of the connection between the two phrases.

[Side note. My mother and various other members of my family pronounce the word 'picturesque' as 'picture-skew-only-it's-not-really-it's-picturesque-because-you-have-to-be-careful-because-I-had-a-friend-at-school-whose-family-pronounced-it-pictureskew-as-a-joke-and-she-grew-up-thinking-that-was-really-how-it-was-pronounced-and-used-it-in-a-university-interview-and-was-subjected-to-ridicule'. So usually I can rely on family phrase pronunciation being correct. However, I recently discovered that the verb 'to be overfaced' is a Yorkshire, or at least a Northern, usage only. So there are things in my everyday vocabulary which I think are universal which turn out to be local dialect. Which is why it never hurts to be careful.]

Turns out 'Sea change' is from The Tempest (natch), but that 'seed change' is an eggcorn - or false etymology - for the same phrase, because it is a change which precedes some major growth. Interesting. If you're me.

And that leads me to Shakespeare and the brill production of The Winter's Tale which I saw yesterday (and am going to see again with someone else in a couple of hours). Never seen or read it before. Normally a new Shakespeare is reason for me to be sitting there going 'oh, that's where that phrase comes from'. Not so much yesterday, except for one classic: 'tumbling in the hay'. I shall be listening out for more this afternoon.