Words of wisdom?

April 6th, 2014

Here is some advice from Magersfontein Lugg:

It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.


Animal crackers

April 5th, 2014

A wonderful way to while away the odd half day and to exercise one’s laugh muscles at the same time is to pay a visit to the eggcorn database. If you feel like indulging, the link is in the side-bar.

Here are just few of the entries that have caught my attention recently:

  • People who have been adopted or are in foster care should not be treated as a social leopard.
  • The consequence was social uproar as new people entered the site on a whim after stumbling on long-dead threads and posted without reading FAQs or without knowing the complex set of social morays that the board requires.
  • Luckily our old Toyota just got us through and then gave up the goat.

All this was prompted by my friend JDL, who brought this gem to my attention:

Why can’t we, as a society, treat each other with a bit of respect and give Madonna and her elk the 1st class treatment she deserves!

Who me?

March 24th, 2014

This post has been prompted by watching the first programme in a series of four Italian crime dramas on BBC4 on Saturday nights. The drama is called Inspector De Luca and is set in Riccione in 1938.

It struck me that languages have very different ways in dealing with the concept {you}. These range from the simple you of most varieties of English to much more complex systems which differentiate singular and plural, some even throwing in dual for good measure, and polite/formal versus familiar.

French is fairly straightforward, using tu for singular familiar and vous for plural and/or polite. French uses second person verb forms with these pronouns.

Next up is German. We have du + 2nd person singular verb form for singular familiar, ihr + 2nd person plural verb for plural familiar and Sie + 3rd person plural verb for both singular and plural polite.

Much more complicated and confusing for the poor old Brit. learner is the situation in Italian and Spanish, the more so because the pronoun is not even used most of the time! Italian is probably the hardest so here goes…2nd person singular verb, possibly accompanied by tu for familiar singular, 3rd person singular verb, possibly accompanied by lei (which also means “she”), for polite singular, 2nd person plural, possibly with voi for familiar plural, and finally 3rd person plural, possibly with loro (which also means “they”) for polite plural.

What was odd, to me anyway, about the language in the De Luca programme was the fact that the 3rd person forms and the use of lei and loro to mean “you” was absent. The characters used just tu and voi, the second of these being used, à la française, for singular polite, plural polite and plural familiar. Was this a feature of Italian generally during the Mussolini era? I’d love to know.

More tips

March 23rd, 2014

After a long rest from adding pronunciation tips. I have started again. The link is in the side-bar, or click on the graphic to the left. Just a reminder that you can’t comment on the tips except by posting on the relevant page on this site. Again the link is in the side-bar under the heading Pages.

Damon Runyon Theater

March 3rd, 2014

Damon Runyon

The guy in the picture to the left is Damon Runyon. He is one of my favourite authors. If you have never read him, give him a try.

Quite by chance today I came across a site with freely downloadable sound files of many (if not all) the episodes of the Damon Runyon Theater, which was syndicated to local radio stations in the USA in 1947 and 1948. Even if Runyon’s style and subject matter are not to your taste, you may be interested in the hours of recordings of now outdated American accents, many of them from New York and environs.

Photo in public domain