Filed under language analysis

On Translation 

When the news broke on Wednesday & twitter fell silent I turned to John Berger’s ‘Confabulations ‘ on translating into other languages: “We read and reread the words of the original text in order to penetrate through them, to reach, to touch the vision or experience which prompted them. We then gather up what we … Continue reading

Second Person Pronouns

Atlas Obscura is a great source of obscure information, though often flawed by lack of research, but here’s an article that got me thinking. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/yall-youuns-yinz-youse-how-regional-dialects-are-fixing-standard-english?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=76063a5aad-Newsletter_10_17_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-76063a5aad-63056749&ct=t(Newsletter_10_17_2016)&mc_cid=76063a5aad&mc_eid=377570eee9 For all its history and variety, English has no plural form of the second person pronoun. Unlike other European languages, it also has no polite/informal forms. AO find the latter … Continue reading

How Old and Ugly Were Witches?

I have always worried at the bad images we have of witches, especially those who were punished for their ‘crimes’. The image of an ugly, isolated old woman just doesn’t seem to fit many of the cases, in particular the famous Pendle witches. The old hags seem more cartoon characters. Many pamphlets and ballads were … Continue reading

Go Home April, You’re Drunk

I heard about this online comment (tweet?) and have been sniggering over it since. One of my favourite cartoons is as medieaval image of a man hopping beside a big puddle saying ‘ Mr Bogman please give me back my shoe!’. This is a similar mindset. The words are addressed to as month, or season. … Continue reading

Curse Tablets

Here is an extraordinary item from Highways & Byways on Yorkshire, as it raises a lot of questions as to its origins: At Gretna Bridge not many years ago was found a pair of tablets which illustrate so luridly the manner in which the hate of families found vent,… Two leaden plates were dug out … Continue reading

Etruscan ‘Rosetta Stone’ found in Italy

The Etruscans are a little known civilisation that preceded Rome, so this discovery provides a rare insight into their language. This is from the i, 5 April: An ancient stone tablet, discovered by archaeologists at a dig outside Florence is being hailed as “Italy’s Rosetta Stone” with excited experts saying the 2,500 year old artefact … Continue reading

The History of Haltwhistle

This is another piece from Highways & Byways of Northumbria, a wonderful source of historical oddities: Haltwhistle stands so beautifully on the tyne here a broad shadow river dancing and singing over a rough bed, with a great sweep of moors billowing round it that not even the squalour attendant on coal mines has destroyed … Continue reading

Antony Sher on Falstaff

Sher is one of our finest and most knowledgeable Shakespearean actors, and was featured in the i’s series on the Bard’s plays. I saw him play Falstaff in the RSC production. He makes some very good points not just on the subject but much wider aspects of characters: Falstaff is an astonishing Lord of Misrule. … Continue reading

Women in Publishing

On Friday an article in the i was headed ‘Publishing industry does not take women’s fiction seriously enough’. It featured former restauranteur turned novelist Prue Leith who claimed the industry underrates women’s writing. She claimed that if women write about love, it is categorised as commercial or women’s fiction, whereas if it’s by a man … Continue reading