Jumping to conclusions

The red arrow on the map marks a place called Langarth. It is the terminus for the park and ride bus service into the centre of Truro. The apparent elements of the name are lan, which means ‘sacred enclosure’, or more prosaically ‘yard’, and garth, which means ‘enclosure’. Rather odd, huh?

I had occasion to use the park and ride service the other day and was pleased to see that the on-board information screen gave the name of the next stop in English and in Cornish. So after leaving Langarth we came to COLLEGE or KOLJI and then HOSPITAL or KLAVJI. On the way back I was surprised to see LANGARTH or LEN AN GATH, as we approached the terminus.

After a quick scurry to the books after I got home, I found that this probably means ‘pool (or stream) of the cat’. It could even mean ‘valley of the cat’. The elements lan, len (aka lyn) and nans (=’valley’) were frequently confused in place-names. Where the <r> in Langarth came from I cannot explain, however.

Map credit: Google Maps.

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.


In my post on reverse rhotacism I said I would have to add the term rhotacism to SID. I did so. Martin Ball commented on the post:
In old fashioned terminology, speech pathologists often termed problems with /r/ ‘rhotacism’, and problems with /s/ ‘sigmatism’.

I took that into account when writing the SID entry. I reproduce the relevant bit here:
(2) Formerly in speech pathology, the inability to produce the standard r sound of an accent. A familiar example in English is the use of ʋ (voiced labiodental approximant) instead of ɹ (post-alveolar).

I have since received an email from Jack Windsor Lewis asking (1) is this meaning of rhotacism really completely dead amongst speech pathologists? (2) what has replaced the term?

I don’t know the answer to either question. Can anyone help?