Winter sunset and a seasonal note

A scene from Salthill, Galway, a few weeks ago. It was a bitterly cold evening but the Prom was full of people, many of them like me unable to take their eyes off the changing sky and its play of light on the bay.




To regular readers and occasional passers-by: Happy Christmas and a peaceful new year, and thanks for your visits and comments during 2012 – there’d be no Sentence first without them. See you in a couple of weeks, or sooner if you’re on Twitter and I pop in over the break.


P.S. Feel free to use the comment form to pose queries, suggest ideas for future posts, tell me what you’re reading, and so on.


23 Responses to Winter sunset and a seasonal note

  1. wisewebwoman says:

    Nollaig shona dhuit, Stan. Gorgeous picture, I love Salthill.
    I’m reading “The Rings of Saturn” by W.G. Sebald” and I’ve got a feeling you might like him. I also read his “The Emigrants” which I loved. Extraordinary writer.
    As a seasonal gift here are the 25 best autocorrects of 2012 if you haven’t already seen them:
    Thanks for your great posts, Stan!!!

  2. kcecelia says:

    Happy Christmas, and a peaceful new year to you as well. Thank you for the beautiful sunset photograph in your post; it gave me a moment of relaxed exhalation amid all the crazy-busy of my life. Thank you especially for your posts: you write about language in a way that is intelligent, informative, and so profoundly descriptive as opposed to proscriptive that I find it the kindest smart writing on language I’ve read. In my experience, it is not easy to be both kind and smart (see the film Harvey for an excellent quote on this subject), and I appreciate the new knowledge I have gained from you, as well as the generosity with which you share. Someday, maybe I’ll ask for your professional help with a review of an essay or a book. I imagine your comments would enrich my work, and my ego would remain hale and hearty at the end. I look forward to your 2013 posts.

  3. Shaun Downey says:

    Glorious colours Stan. Merry Christmas!

  4. Jim Brown says:

    Beautiful picture. And a Merry Christmas to you, too, Stan. Keep up the great work in the coming new year.

  5. Claude says:

    Splendid photo. Thank you!

    Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année, Stan. Merci pour tout ce que j’apprends en parcourant tes postes.

    De tout coeur,

  6. Claire Stokes says:

    My appreciation as well! Smart & kind, that is exactly right. Looking forward to all your future posts, and hoping you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s!
    PS WWW – love the autocorrects’ collection, splendid!
    Claire de Lune

  7. Jan says:

    All best wishes for the season of salty Irish seas. Thank you for your truly excellent bog … OH nooooo, I mean blog ;).

  8. Happy Christmas. The image of Salthill is beautiful.

  9. gelolopez says:

    Happy Christmas Stan. I have to say I learned a lot of things from you :)

  10. Merry Christmas, Stan. I’d have sent you something — a mix CD of linguistically and culturally interesting songs, perhaps — but I didn’t think “Stan Carey, Galway” would be enough information for the Irish postal service to go on.

    The book I bought most recently was the c.900-page compilation of Monty Python’s Flying Circus scripts. I’m not actively reading it at this point, but I have browsed.

    I think I’ll hold off suggesting ideas for blog posts until after your shot at the Punctuation Experiment. :-)

  11. Stan says:

    WWW: Agus Nollaig mhaith chugat. I’ve not read Sebald but I will try to. Thanks for the autocorrects; I’d seen them, but you reminded me to forward them to someone.

    Katherine: Many happy returns, and many thanks for your very kind words. I’m glad the photo brought you a moment’s serenity; revisiting it today is helping me ignore the drab uniform grey overhead here. Feel free to email me anytime. I love Harvey, by the way. It doesn’t put a furry foot wrong.

    Genealogy Lady: And the same to you! Thanks for stopping by.

    Shaun: It was a painter’s delight. Many happy returns!

    Jim: Thanks very much. I’ll do my best, and I wish you a good year’s writing and teaching.

    Claude: Et Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année à toi et ta famille, mon bon amie.

    Claire: Thank you very much. I wonder is it still snowy in Minnesota. Stay warm and well, and have a lovely Christmas too.

    Jan: My best wishes to you too, and thanks. Here’s a photo for you from a truly excellent blog bog in County Mayo.

    Just Add Attitude: Many happy returns. It was a stunning horizon; I’m grateful I caught that one.

    Gelolopez: That is good to hear. :-) I hope you have a lovely break, and see you next year.

    Adrian: Merry Christmas to you too. I appreciate the thought very much, but you’re probably right that a minimalist address wouldn’t find me. A complete set of Monty Python scripts is ideal browsing material. A few years ago I read The Pythons Autobiography by the Pythons, a much shorter book but a fascinating insight into their working methods (and occasional personality clashes). It inspired me to watch the series from start to finish, which I hadn’t done systematically before. I promise I haven’t forgotten about continuing your experiment! Hopefully I’ll get around to it in 2013.

    • I haven’t read the autobiography but I do have the video from the Pythons’ 30th anniversary (not the more recent 40th), which also contains numerous insights.

      The initial blog post for the punctuation experiment can be written quite quickly, I found, but collating the results takes longer. I seem to remember taking a while to triple-check that every punctuation mark in the PDF was properly highlighted, because Word doesn’t allow highlighting to be automated in search-and-replace.* And the PDF needed to be right, because it’s more trouble than a blog post to fix once it’s online.

      * Can’t check this right now, as I’m on holidays and hence using a laptop that doesn’t have Word installed.

  12. Edward Banatt says:

    Beautiful shot. Happy holidays, Stan. Thanks for another year of thought provoking blog (and Twitter) posts.

  13. Mise says:

    I used to walk the Prom most evenings when I lived in Salthill, before I’d made a fortune on the slot machines and moved on, and your lovely photo certainly does it justice. Nollaig mhór mhaith agat, a Stan, and may words treat you well in the coming year.

  14. Sean Jeating says:

    What wonderful light at the end of the … year!
    All the best, Stan.

  15. Stan says:

    Adrian: Thanks for the tips. I remember being very impressed by how you presented both the experiment and its results, and will consult your posts carefully when I eventually conduct Part II.

    Edward: It’s a pleasure. Thanks for your support on Twitter all year, and have a very happy holiday yourself.

    Mise: The Prom is a reliable pleasure whatever the weather and state of the sky. I don’t think I have the luck or patience to try making my fortune in like manner, sadly. Merry Christmas to you all.

    Sean: And my best wishes to you. I imagine the light over Seanhenge is as captivating as ever, this time of year.

  16. Eugene says:

    Happy New Year.
    I would enjoy a discussion of adverbial VP modification versus adjectives and complex predicates with adjective phrases. For example, people will squeal if you use “did good,” but nobody will notice when you use “did fine” or “did OK.” You can “paint it carefully” (ADV) and “paint it red” (ADJ as Object Complement).
    And then there are expressions like “let him down easy,” which mean something different than “let him down easily.” Also, how people get confused about good vs. well and feel bad(*badly).
    Anyway, in your experience as a copy editor, where’s the gray area between adverbial and adjectival; what are the common misconceptions; how do you sort these things out?
    This is a real go-to language blogs – one of the best. Thanks.

  17. Claire Stokes says:

    Hey! I was kind of smushed between various happenings and requirements etc.. earlier, could not respond to your ending request. But since, things have percolated up to the surface!

    Some things I would love to see your ideas & thoughts about include

    George Lakoff’s ideas around the cognitive power of language: that including a foe’s language in your rebuttal given them power, that it’s always important to use one’s own language, strengthen one’s own universe when one communicates etc.. (valid/not/outdated/current etc.. and if current: support for! Because once the initial terminology is out there, it’s so hard not to use it).

    And completely differently: Gertrude Stein, in particular her ‘How to Write’ material.. one basic grasp I have of her work is that she posited that words could be/should be plastic – imbued w/ meaning by the author, including (but not limited to) their previously understood meaning(s). Literally, that’s impossible to deal with of course, but I take it to mean more about poetic uses of language – how words sound and look and their flavors etc.. being also important in addition to meaning; and that *some* artistic license in meaning may be good.

    Anything always about Irish literature: Current, Past, Very Past, in English, in/from Irish, names, related idea/constructs etc… etc..

    And finally a current book I just came across notice of, which prompted me to write all this now rather than in the immediate future: Mary Ruefle’s ‘Madness, Rack and Honey,’ looks wonderful!

    Some/any of this may have already been covered and/or not be relevant, but that’s what I had come to mind..

    Claire de Lune

    • Stan says:

      Thank you for all these suggestions, Claire. I’ve written about the importance of metaphor a few times, but I’m not familiar enough with Lakoff’s politically-leaning books (or similar material from other authors) to address that aspect of it, at least not yet. Re: Stein, I have made notes on sound symbolism and word ‘tastes’, so hopefully there will be a post along those lines at some point. I can guarantee that Irish literature will pop up now and then.

      • Claire Stokes says:

        Yes, I’m aware of some of your past Irish literature content – I first signed up to get posts from here on 6/15/11! Just was delving in to a treasure trove of past notices from here.. Anyway, was counting myself in among the enthusiastic audience for those posts, more than suggesting new topics, in that case you know.

        Oh, the other thing: always interesting in conversations about the client-interaction aspects of editing. Had some adventures with that regarding language in my too-brief stint doing back-of-the-book indexes; also do on an ongoing basis in the world of accounting. Doing things correctly seems so last century to so many, sisyphusian struggles ensue! Kindred conversations welcome.
        – CdL

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