Mervyn Peake

I have just been re-reading bits of Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake. It is not a work noted for comedy, but I came across one sentence which made me laugh out loud:

But both the Doctor and his sister found that the Ladies Cora and Clarice had not been paying the slightest attention but had been staring at Steerpike more in the manner of a wall staring at a man than a man staring at a wall.

Definitely a “I wish I had written that” sort of sentence.

I have searched for a copyright-free picture of Peake, but I came up against what you can see in the picture above. The Wikipedia entry has a photo of him though.

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Photo credit:Jonathan Riley. Used under this licence.

Goodbye 2016

2016, at least the second half of it, has been dire, so I am not sorry to see it coming to an end. Things have improved here and we are hoping they will continue to do so.

Many thanks for all the good wishes and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a trouble-free 2017.

OI again

Both Jonathan and Philip Taylor have commented on the broken link to Online Intonation. Thanks to both.

I don’t know why OI has disappeared from the UCL site, but fortunately I have copies of all the files and have spent quite a lot of time over the past few days re-instating OI on the blogjam site. The link in the sidebar now points to the new OI.

I have taken the opportunity to update the program. It now uses mp3 sound files and the HTML5 <audio> tag. I have tested it using Chrome, MSIE, Microsoft Edge, Firefox Opera, Safari and Sea Monkey. Please let me know if you come across any problems.

The only thing left to say is MY BRAIN HURTS!

Case of mistaken identity

In a conversation with my friend JDL the other day the word “accusative”, the name of the grammatical case, made an appearance. We both wondered why on earth the case was thus named. This was, I might add, getting on for 60 years after either of us had first heard the term. What, we wondered, has the idea of accusation got to do with a grammatical case, whose main function is to signal what is affected by the action of the verb? The OED supplied the answer eventually. The term is a goof. Here is what the OED has to say:

The formation of classical Latin accūsātīvus rests upon a misinterpretation of Hellenistic Greek αἰτιατικός ‘of or relating to that which is caused or effected (ancient Greek τὸ αἰτιατόν )’, designating the case of the effect, or thing directly affected by verbal agency, but misinterpreted by the Latin grammarians as ‘(the case) of accusing’ ( < ancient Greek αἰτιᾶσθαι to accuse).

Sticking with the goof theme, I read today in The Cornishman, the Penzance and district weekly newspaper, that tomorrow the Jubilee Pool will re-open. This is an open-air bathing pool on the promenade in Penzance, which was badly damaged in the winter storms in 2014. A bold headline on the page dealing with the re-opening declares:

It is ‘a good day for Penance’.

Finally, a rather surreal piece of advice from the Royal Horticultural Society website on a page about growing courgettes:

The flowers can be eaten too – but make sure you remove the pistols first. Try them dipped in batter and then fried.