Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The History of the English Language

The History of the English Language
In the beginning there was an island off the coast of Europe. It had no name, for the natives had no language, only a collection of grunts and gestures that roughly translated to "Hey!", "Gimme!", and "Pardon me, but would you happen to have any wood?"

Then the Romans invaded it and called it Britain, because the natives were "blue, nasty, br(u->i)tish and short." This was the start of the importance of u (and its mispronunciation) to the language. After building some roads, killing off some of the nasty little blue people and walling up the rest, the Romans left, taking the language instruction manual with them.

The British were bored so they invited the barbarians to come over (under Hengist) and "Horsa" 'round a bit. The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes brought slightly more refined vocal noises.

All of the vocal sounds of this primitive language were onomatopoetic, being derived from the sounds of battle. Consonants were derived from the sounds of weapons striking a foe. ("Sss" and "th" for example are the sounds of a draw cut, "k" is the sound of a solidly landed axe blow, "b", "d", are the sounds of a head dropping onto rock and sod respectively, and "gl" is the sound of a body splashing into a bog. Vowels (which were either gargles in the back of the throat or sharp exhalations) were derived from the sounds the foe himself made when struck.

The barbarians had so much fun that decided to stay for post-revel. The British, finding that they had lost future use of the site, moved into the hills to the west and called themselves Welsh.

The Irish, having heard about language from Patrick, came over to investigate. When they saw the shiny vowels, they pried them loose and took them home. They then raided Wales and stole both their cattle and their vowels, so the poor Welch had to make do with sheep and consonants. ("Old Ap Ivor hadde a farm, L Y L Y W! And on that farm he hadde somme gees. With a dd dd here and a dd dd there...")

To prevent future raids, the Welsh started calling themselves "Cymry" and gave even longer names to their villages. They figured if no one could pronounce the name of their people or the names of their towns, then no one would visit them. (The success of the tactic is demonstrated still today. How many travel agents have YOU heard suggest a visit to scenic Llyddumlmunnyddthllywddu?)

Meantime, the Irish brought all the shiny new vowels home to Erin. But of course they didn't know that there was once an instruction manual for them, so they scattered the vowels throughout the language purely as ornaments. Most of the new vowels were not pronounced, and those that were they pronounced differently depending on which kind of consonant they were either preceding or following.

The Danes came over and saw the pretty vowels bedecking all the Irish words. "Ooooh!" they said. They raided Ireland and brought the vowels back home with them. But the Vikings couldn't keep track of all the Irish rules so they simply pronounced all the vowels "oouuoo."

In the meantime, the French had invaded Britain, which was populated by descendants of the Germanic Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. After a generation or two, the people were speaking German with a French accent and calling it English. Then the Danes invaded again, crying "Oouuoo! Oouuoo!," burning abbeys, and trading with the townspeople.

The Britons that the Romans hadn't killed intermarried with visiting Irish and became Scots. Against the advice of their travel agents, they decided to visit Wales. (The Scots couldn't read the signposts that said, "This way to LLyddyllwwyddymmllwylldd," but they could smell sheep a league away.) The Scots took the sheep home with them and made some of them into haggis. What they made with the others we won't say, but Scots are known to this day for having hairy legs.

The former Welsh, being totally bereft, moved down out of the hills and into London. Because they were the only people in the Islands who played flutes instead of bagpipes, they were called Tooters. This made them very popular. In short order, Henry Tooter got elected King and begin popularizing ornate, unflattering clothing.

Soon, everybody was wearing ornate, unflattering clothing, playing the flute, speaking German with a French accent, pronouncing all their vowels "oouuoo" (which was fairly easy given the French accent), and making lots of money in the wool trade. Because they were rich, people smiled more (remember, at this time, "Beowulf" and "Canterbury Tales" were the only tabloids, and gave generally favorable reviews even to Danes). And since it is next to impossible to keep your vowels in the back of your throat (even if you do speak German with a French accent) while smiling and saying "oouuoo" (try it, you'll see what I mean), the Great Vowel Shift came about and transformed the English language.

The very richest had their vowels shifted right out in front of their teeth. They settled in Manchester and later in Boston.

There were a few poor souls who, cut off from the economic prosperity of the wool trade, continued to swallow their vowels. They wandered the countryside in misery and despair until they came to the docks of London, where their dialect devolved into the incomprehensible language known as Cockney. Later, it was taken overseas and further brutalized by merging it with Dutch and Italian to create Brooklynese.

That's what happened, you can check for yourself. But I advise you to just take our word for it.

Copyright (c) 1994 Corrie Bergeron and Ben Tucker all rights reserved

found at Maggies Farm

Saturday, November 7, 2015

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Two beautiful photos from Scotland.  Unfortunately not taken by me.

 Stromness, by Glenn McNaughton

Dundee, by Barry Fairweather

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Man's Man or the Modern Man

As for me, I will take the Man's Man.  'Tis a pity I have never dated one, but I suppose that explains a lot.
Mike Rowe

The New York Times just published a 27-point guide on what it means to be a “Modern Man.”  As someone widely regarded as a “Man’s Man,” I’d love to get your take. (Personally, I’m not sure what a “Man’s Man” is, but my wife assures me that you are one.) 

Don Phillips

Hi Don,

I don’t know what a “Man’s Man” is either, or if I am one, but I’m not inclined to argue with another man’s wife. However, I did read the Times piece, and I can tell you with some certainty that I do not appear to be a “Modern Man.” My own Guide - as a potential “Man’s Man” - is below.

New York Times: When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.
Mike Rowe: A Man’s Man would not buy shoes for his spouse, or be familiar with the vagaries of various female footwear brands. He might offer to pay for them, and he would definitely compliment her choice. And if he knows the size of her feet, it’s only because he rubs them from time to time.

NYT: The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.
MR: A Man’s Man feels no shame in admitting uncertainty, because he knows that doing so will make him more certain. He’s transparent about his flaws and shortcomings, and makes no attempt to be more secure or knowledgable or competent than he actually is.

NYT: The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.
MR: A Man’s Man is also considerate. But he would never consciously time his chewing to coincide with the noisy parts of the film. He does not walk on eggshells.

NYT: The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.
MR: A Man’s Man will clean his plate, assuming of course he’s the one who put the food on it. But he feels no obligation to suck the marrow out of a bone, or eat the bruise on the banana, or consume the cob as well as the corn. He does not equate his manliness with a willingness consume food that’s been poorly prepared.

NYT: The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.
MR: A Man’s Man knows it’s wiser to park closer to the exit than the entrance.

NYT: Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.
MR: A Man’s Man knows that self-reliance is born of experience. He encourages his kids to look after their own stuff, and suffer the consequences when they do not. The wife is another matter.

NYT: The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.
MR: A Man’s Man doesn’t drink children’s beverages. He drinks tap water, wine, coffee, beer, whiskey, or iced tea. He does however, keep soda pop on hand, on the off chance a modern man stops by.

NYT: The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
MR: A Man’s Man is less worried about using the right word, and more concerned with being understood. But under no circumstance, does he “dumb down” the language.

NYT: Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
MR: A Man’s Man is already a complete person. His identity does not depend upon sons, daughters, spouses, friends, or pets. He is not a loner, and he cherishes the relationships he has. But he knows that his “completion” is nothing but a reflection of knowing who he is.

NYT: The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.
MR: A Man’s Man will always volunteer to wash the dishes. He may or may not put them away, but regardless, he understands the phenomenon of evaporation, and doesn’t concern himself with a codified system for drying.

NYT: The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.
MR: A Man’s Man does not know what that even means. But he rarely says “never.”

NYT: The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.
MR: A Man’s Man uses Lava Soap. He uses it until it’s the size of a dime.

NYT: The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.
MR: A Man’s Man watches reruns of Kung-Fu.

NYT: The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.
MR: A Man’s Man does not make lists. He knows what he likes, what he needs, and what he wants. If he has to write it down, he understands it was not worth having in the first place.

NYT: The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
MR: A Man’s Man is not committed to any particular type of flooring. He doesn’t attempt to communicate with his children through his footsteps, and he doesn’t own oxfords, unless they’re steel-toed.

NYT: The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.
MR: A Man’s Man knows that a struggle closest to the door will effectively block the exit through which his wife might flee. So he secures the house in a way that keeps intruders out, and sleeps wherever he wants.

NYT: The modern man has a melon baller. How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?
MR: The Man’s Man, if he serves fruit at all, prepares wedges, squares, and rectangles. He accomplishes this with a knife.

NYT: The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.
MR: A Man’s Man doesn’t think “seriously” about any purchase under $5.

NYT: The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.
MR: A Man’s Man picks wildflowers on the side of the road, wraps them with a bootlace, and presents them with an original, hand-written poem.

NYT: On occasion, the modern man is the “little spoon.” Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.
MR: A Man’s Man will do whatever’s necessary to please his bedmate - not himself. But he roundly rejects all metaphors, especially those that involve utensils.

NYT: The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.
MR: A Man’s Man would laugh and then say “Bless you,” or “gesundheit.” Then, he’d make sure she wipes her nose and cleans up the crumbs.

NYT: The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.
MR: A Man’s Man does not amble. Moreover, he would have aleady impressed upon the paper boy the importance of getting the morning paper all the way up on the porch. Where it belongs.

NYT: The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time.)
MR: A Man’s Man doesn’t own films - he rents them. He also values effectiveness over efficiency, and knows that the “latest technology” will be obsolete in a few months. For this reason, he makes no attempt to own the newest of anything.

NYT: The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.
MR: A Man’s Man prefers his gas tank full, his weapon loaded, his pantry stocked, and his checkbook balanced. He also likes his phone sufficiently charged, and takes the necessary steps to accomplish that.

NYT: The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
MR: A Man’s Man owns at least one firearm. He knows how to use it, clean it, and store it properly. He understands it’s importance, and sees it for what it is - a tool that can protect him and his family.

NYT: The modern man cries. He cries often.
MR: A Man’s Man cries if he feels like crying. But he rarely feels like it.

NYT: People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.
MR: People know without question a Man’s Man does not dance. But they also know if called upon, he’ll give it his best shot...
Read the rest over at Maggie's Farm

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The White Ghetto

Yes, I am on Facebook and sometimes I wonder why.  Most of my family and friends are liberal - most even to the left of that ...
So one of the geniuses posted this:
and because I won't leave it alone, I answered with this:
A White Ghetto
Now the difference between her posting a photo that she just "shared" without comment and my response is the article.  A well written, sympathetic and compassionate tome about the people who actually live there.
Sympathy and compassion - missing from the left.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Oh No!

Oh my, it has been a month since I have posted anything. 
Well my back is improving.  I had to get the cortisone shots into my spine - isn't that fun - for my lumbar radiculopathy.  I love saying that word! 
Now I have begun the exercises for the arthritis in my spine.  I am walking normally and other than some stiffness in the morning (no jokes please Gents) I am also pain free.  For the first time in years.  Yippee Kai Yae. 
I am now able to concentrate on other matters for my life.  Like enriching it and me.