December 22, 2013
[click to enlarge]
Cartoons by William Steig and George Price, from The New Yorker Album of Drawings 1925–1975. “Cheer up or take off the hat” is a good motto for the winter, wouldn’t you say?
In the meantime, thanks for your visits and comments to Sentence first this year – the blog wouldn’t happen without you. Have a peaceful Christmas and a happy new year, and see you on the other side.
December 11, 2013
It’s a few months since I launched the Sentence first shop, and also since I mentioned it, so a brief plug before Christmas won’t go amiss. I’ve updated the contents a little, removing some items and adding a new product line or two – most recently one with the text:
I remember when this was all feels
Obviously it’s a play on the well-worn line I remember when this was all fields (or: when all this; all just fields, etc).
The feels in question are an internet meme of sorts. The pun might mean nothing to you, or you might find it appealingly silly. You might even have seasonal feels about it.
Wordplay is the shop’s main theme. Old favourites Omit needles swords, Grammar is glamorous (etymologically speaking), Recursive hipsters et al. are still available on T-shirts, mugs, tops, badges, bags and hoodies, some now at reduced prices.
Spreadshirt advises ordering by 13–14 December to avail of standard delivery in the US by Christmas. (Outside the US, it may be too late even for Santa.) Requests and feedback are welcome – you can leave a comment below, send an email, or find me on Twitter at @StanCarey.
For other Christmas gift ideas, you might find language-related books of interest in my reviews archive.
Normal uncommercial service will resume shortly.
December 21, 2012
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.
May 2, 2011
Sometimes it behoves people to adopt and accelerate changes in the common vocabulary of their language for political or cultural reasons. Mankind, once the norm, is now widely and rightly considered an inadequate term for humankind. Ditto chairman for chairperson, fireman for firefighter, and similar sexist and androcentrist terms.
In other cases, though, such attempts to ‘fix’ a language are misguided to the point of absurdity. I think we’re better off without huperson, woperson, personslaughter and personhole covers.
Of course, it’s not always gender that’s at issue. Here’s an account of one mercifully short-lived attempt at linguistic reform in the name of religion:
In the nineteenth century, British politician Thomas Massey railed against Catholicisms in the English language and proposed to the House of Commons that Christmas should be renamed ‘Christ-tide’ to avoid reference to the Catholic mass. When Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli stood up, however, to ask Thomas Massey whether he was then also prepared to change his own name to ‘Tom-tide Tidey’, the matter was closed.
From A History of Language, by Steven Roger Fischer.