Scattered thoughts

Sentence first has changed a bit over the last few months. Its focus remains the English language – grammar, usage, history, and so on – but it has taken recent detours into posts about birds, censorship, jazz, and spiders, among other things. Despite this or because of it, the blog has gained a few regular readers; this in turn has encouraged me to write more frequently. This week it was quiet here because I was very busy with work (editing and voluntary) and assorted activities (online and offline: one of my more absurd online projects concerns my bookmarks, of which I have tagged thousands, and which for mystifying reasons I decided to organise, slightly).

A few weeks ago I had a long informal chat with Fate, lost a bet, and ended up opening a Twitter account. There is a permanent link to it in the sidebar to the right. Rather than explain myself, which might imply that my decision needs justifying, I refer sceptical readers to BLDGBLOG‘s common-sense defence. As a fan of concision I like the restraint imposed by Twitter’s 140-character limit. It makes a nice contrast with my blog posts, some of which are on the hefty side. So far I’ve had a lot of fun interacting with other Twitterers and posting poetry, quotes, information, nature reports, links, and occasional idle chatter about food, books, and Irish weather. Curiously, I seem to be the first person online to use the phrase “less than the yum of its parts” – at least somewhere googlable. Future biographers, take note.

SOEDOn a more scholarly note, I finally obtained a Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (pictured), which I ordered from The Book Depository. No longer must I rely on pocket, concise, and online editions. The Shorter OED is a beautiful book and a magnificent work, though its size makes it unsuitable for picnics (unlike, say, Merriam-Webster’s Pocket Guide to English Usage). Continuing the self-involved tone of this post, I was looking up “stamina” in the OED, for a post about “data”, and I came across an entry for the word “Stancarist”. Since my name is Stan Carey, I blinked and looked again: there it remained. It seems Stancarism derives from an idea championed by a 16C Italian theologian called Francesco Stancari (or Stancaro) (no relation (I think)). Bless the OED and bless its first editor, the remarkable James Murray.

Since this post is less formal than usual, I’ll take the opportunity to thank my readers, be they dedicated or accidental. If you are a regular or occasional reader who has yet to comment but has not ruled out the possibility, feel free to say hello and introduce yourself below, pseudonymously or otherwise. If you would prefer to continue lurking mysteriously, that’s fine too. It’s not as if I can do anything about it. Or if there is some suitable subject any of my readers would like Sentence first to tackle (split infinitives, anyone?), I’ll take all requests under consideration. It’s an open floor. Much as I love Kafka, his popular quote about writing does not pertain to blogging as I understand it. Dialogue is what enlivens this place. Would Kafka have blogged? I suspect not, but if he had, it would have been quite something. Worth a link, at least.

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4 Responses to Scattered thoughts

  1. Sean Jeating says:

    Not only that I could not bear seeing ’0 comments’; I just couldn’t resist to be the first outing himself as a Stancarist. :)
    As for dictionaries: dangerous stuff. Sometimes I’d open one and … half an hour or 45 minutes later notice that I forgot which word I originally intended to look up.

  2. Stan says:

    Sean: Good dictionaries are like vast rabbit warrens. There is no telling where you will end up or how you will get there. As for Stancarism, I must assure my readers that I am not trying to start a cult, and that if I were I would give it a different name!

    And thank you Sean for your kindness in commenting. Having no comments on a post doesn’t concern me, but it’s always a treat to receive one. Whether I had four readers or four million, I would be curious about them: hence the unsubtle attempt to lure an undeclared one or two into the open.

  3. Paul Duane says:

    That business of looking in a dictionary and finding that your name is there, in the form of a definition, is the kind of thing that might happen in Borges. Unlikely to happen to me, though you never know, do you?

  4. Stan says:

    Paul: It was a strangely uncanny discovery, though not unpleasant. Unexpected, more than anything. There is an Irish word duan, but you probably knew that already. How’s your singing voice?

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