Hello, and Welcome

I am a writer and publisher of history with a passionate interest in language, especially that incredible beast, English. My books are available through Amazon or at barbdrummond.co.uk

Much of what I have written but not published will find its way to this site.

Many non native speakers complain about how hard it is to master, but it is an incredibly complex machine, so should involve an effort to become proficient.

It now dominates the world because it is a genuine world language.

And it is in constant flux, because that is what a living system should do. Just think about the word shamble: how did it move from describing the gait of a lame bear to the state of a teenager’s bedroom?

I love reading, I love writing, I love sharing ideas, the stranger the better. But I also love to question, to comment and to criticise.

Talk to me.

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58 thoughts on “Hello, and Welcome

  1. English is a fascinating language. Have you ever noticed, for instance, comparing English to French, we have many more words but are able to express concepts in fewer of those words.

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    • Thanks for following my blog. English is that is a hybrid of Saxon and Viking, with Norman French and lots of others incorporated into it. English is a world language because it is a world language. French is one language I never learnt, so cannot comment. The reason we can use fewer words is that we have more choice, so can express what we mean more concisely. But Latin is even more compact, far more so than English.

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  2. I love your blog, Barb, thank you for your work!
    It’s interesting and amusing, well written and always discussing topics from different points of view, so the reader has got a complete view of them and is made able to make an opinion of his own.
    🙂 I’m following enthusiastically 🙂

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  3. Hey, great blog here! I foresee more blogging awards coming =)) I see you’re a writer and publisher, would you mind criticizing the early chapters of my novel? Only if it won’t be hassle, in that case I totally will understand.

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  4. Hey Barb,

    Just want to let you know I just nominated you as an official Health Demystified MVP (Most Valued Peep) for all your support and encouragement. This is my way of letting you know that I really appreciate you and I think you are awesome.

    Welcome to the exclusive Health Demystified MVP Club.

    Glad to have you on board,

    Eric

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    • Oh my goodness. I don’t know what to say. Should I thank my agent and my laptop for all their support? Should I be wearing a balldress for this acceptance? I think I’d better have a nice cup of tea. Cheers.

      You may be interested that back in the early days of English hospitals the pharmacists/chemists were usually the first contact for people who were ill. As a result they had a pretty high fatality rate. Hospital/gaol fever – I think typhus – was the usual cause. I’m sure you are grateful times have moved on for your profession.

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  5. Hello Barb, I’ve enjoyed all your enquiries into Bristol and its past since I found your blog, so would you mind if I list you as a ‘versatile blogger’? If you hate it, please say!

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  6. Thank you for dropping a view words on my blog. Actually I found your blog from the link you had on your other homepage, as I am interested to follow that one (it was because you are writing about Bristol). Just a suggestion, as you link this blog with your homepage, why don’t you do the other way around as well?

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      • My husband and I plan to move back to Bristol in a couple of years time. He’s keen to show me and explore Bristol and around. But I think it’s good that I knew something that he might not know yet.

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  7. Peter Strong
    188 Chartridge Lane
    Chesham
    Buckinghamshire
    HP5 2SE
    petergstrong@hotmail.com

    Hello,
    Re: Fine Ships and Gallant Sailors.
    I purchased a copy of the above the other day which is based on a journal of shipwright Edward Bunkin.
    The reason for my purchase was that my mother in law who is nearly nearly 93, was born in Plymouth on 4th April 1920 and registered in Plymouth South East on the 8th May 1920.
    Her Father is shown on the birth certificate as Edward Bunkin – Shipwright HM Dockyard and her Mother as Ethel Bunkin formerly Corley. The home address was shown as 27 Tallox Place, Laina, Plymouth.
    As Edward Bunkin is an extremely unusual name we believe Edward to be her father, but then again it’s very strange as you show in the book Ada St Clair Quick as being his wife.
    My mother in law was put into Bernardos at the age of 6 years and the reasons behind it have always been a puzzle to her and the family.
    If you could pass this email on to the Bunkin family, you would be doing my Mother in Law and her children a great service.

    Kind Regards,

    Peter Strong

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  8. Hi Barb – thought you had stopped posting as nothing of yours was appearing in my reader, but obviously it was a WordPress glitch. I’ve tried unfollowing and then following again so we’ll see!

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    • good to see you back. No, I’ve not stopped – well on my way to 700th blog so think it might be time to do some pruning. Nobody else seems to have had that problem tho I tried to get it onto hosting but still don’t know whay that didn’t work. thought you were too busy to comment. Cheers

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 11:30 PM, texthistory

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    • I read lots of stuff, on lots of different topics. I am interested in the Ottomans as I think their legacy, esp on modern Middle Eastern politics, and in the Balkans, is more important than often assumed. Their empire was based on tribes rather than lines on maps, and that has caused immense problems for Europeans.

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    • There’s a post with all my kindles including the microcosm one – forgot to thank you for the review of it on amazon. the rest should be easy to find on amazon or my webs.com website is still somewhere out there in the ether. Thanks for your support. They are on a lot of book websites, but most say they are out of stock – they’ve nevr bothered to get them in stock is why.

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  9. Hi Barb! I don’t know how you found Life As a Wave, but I’m glad you didi! Although I don’t blog about linguistics, that has been the common theme of my academic and professional career for almost 2 decades. I especially love the sociocultural aspect of language and how we are constantly redefining “meaning'” Anyway, glad to be connected! I look forward to reading your posts.
    Cheers,
    ~~~S Wave~~~

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  10. Hi Barb. I love your site and share your passion for reading and writing. “The stranger the better.” I really laughed when I read that. The oddities of life never cease to amaze me and I appreciate so much your sharing some of them with us. And keep criticizing. Some things need to be questioned. Laughing out loud. Write on!

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  11. A fascinating site. I’m looking for more information on Shiel’s (also spelled Sheil’s) Institution in Armargh, where my great-grandfather, Stephen Mates, a retired RIC sergeant, was listed as superintendent in 1901 and 1911. I get the impression that alms houses were several cuts above work houses in terms of amenities and quality of life. In fact, my great-grandfather was left the enormous legacy of £664 in 1908 by one of the residents at Shiel’s, indicating that one didn’t even have to be poor to live there. I would appreciate comments and insights.

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    • Ok, I know nothing about Northern Ireland, but you are right, almshouses are totally different. They were generally founded by wealthy merchants to fill the gap caused by the closure of the monasteries, so can date from the 1500s, generally to maintain a specific group of people, eg a rich sailor might leave money to maintain retired seamen, or they may be founded by guilds for their members, so you might find merchant venturers, or tailors almshouses. Some were founded again by wealthy, for specific parishes and are often named after the donor, as yours seems to be. Poor houses were established by local parishes to deal with the soaring numbers of poor caused by the closure of the monasteries creating a population explosion. Work houses were, as the name suggests, pretty grim – hence the campaign by the founder of the times and others to abolish them. Basically, nobody wanted to pay taxes to maintain them, and as with the NHS today, there is no end to the need for them.
      s you note, almshouses admitted some who were wealthy, they were for the worthy, ie unable to work, often without relatives to care for them. the role of superintendant was a very responsible one; the person needed to be trusted with money, as well as dealing with care of often frail people, so ex military were seen as a safe pair of hands, and also military pensions were often limited. People admitted to almshouses were seen as very fortunate, they had a safe, secure environment surrounded by their peeers. Some of the buildings are fantastic, often centrally located, some with great views. Hope this helps.

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  12. Thanks very much; your reply hits a number of nails on the head and helps enormously. My great-grandfather also had four of his children, in their 20s, living with him in 1901, and one daughter in 1911. Shiels must have been a rather pleasant place.
    Regards,

    Michael

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    • People worked till they dropped, so retirees were rare and generally respected. I used to know people who dreamed of being accepted into an almshouse when they retired. Glad to have been of help.

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  13. I continue to be amazed at how hard it is to find material on the web. After several hours searching for Charles Shiels (also spelled Sheils), I found this, which confirms what you said about alms houses, at http://www.ucitltd.com/PDFs/issue22.pdf

    At more than 2,500 sites throughout the United
    Kingdom, almshouses provide over 32,000 homes
    for the needy, as many of them have done since the
    Middle Ages. On the island of Ireland however no
    more than a handful of sites survive[s] and the Charles
    Sheils Charity is responsible for five of these, four of
    which are in Northern Ireland and one is in Stillorgan,
    Co Dublin.
    The earliest almshouses share their origins with
    hospitals which formerly housed and cared for
    the poor and the elderly as well as the sick. They
    provided ‘hospitality’ to travellers, especially to
    pilgrims and were supported by ‘alms’, collected
    through the church.
    The Charles Sheils Charity was founded by the Will of
    Charles Sheils who died in Dublin in December 1861.
    In the absence of any family, he directed the bulk
    of his considerable fortune through an elaborately
    detailed Will to the foundation of a Charity for the
    care of the ‘deserving’ poor. This led to the building
    of the five sets of almshouses between 1867 and
    1872. There are approximately 137 almshouses
    located over the five areas. Each of the four sites
    in Northern Ireland is protected as historically and
    architecturally important and statutorily listed as
    category grade B+. The locations are Killough, Co.
    Down; Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim; Dungannon, Co.
    Tyrone and Armagh, Co. Armagh. Unusually for its
    time, the Charity was governed, and still is, by equal
    numbers of Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic and
    Presbyterian Governors.

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    • The net used to be a lot more helpful for researchers like you, but is more driven by ads so history takes a back seat if you can find it at all. Ireland generally lost a lot of important records due to the troubles, which doesn’t help. I have a book on almshouses so will see if it can help. Have you tried to find your ancestor’s will? Might have something, or try local history groups, libraries or the record office or the charity itself. Hope this helps

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  14. Yes indeed. I don’t have his will, but I know that he died in 1921.

    On relations between relations: I have a letter from my dad (1909-1979) to my mother before they were married saying something like “I think my grandad was a cop.” Apparently there wasn’t a great deal of interest in genealogy, let alone family history, in my family, and apparently my dad never met his paternal grandfather. Very different from today!

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  15. Hi Barb! Great blog – I also love reading and writing and sharing ideas. And the English language, in all its glory (although I’m Greek!) Looking forward to browsing through your gadzillions of posts!

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  16. Hi Barb,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts. And your blog is truly a space that enriches me. I have taken a bit of liberty in nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award (the official post citing the nomination will be out next week). I hope you would accept it. But evenif it is otherwise, my support and love to your blog will continue. Always looking forward to your posts! Cheers

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  17. And if I’m not mistaken (I don’t have time to look it up right now, somewhere along the line a shambles either was or was somehow related to a slaughterhouse. The shifts are fascinating–as are our reactions when the language changes around us.

    Liked by 1 person

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