21 January, 2007

Scattered remarks

At noon I'm due to meet T to read a bit of Greek. We've now eschewed John in favour of Ion, which is proving considerably more difficult, although it has been curious to discover a constant repetition of words and set phrases, just like in John, as well as frequent polyptotive wordplay. T calls me at half eleven: "Are we on for twelve?" I reply that we are. "So the rain isn't putting you off?" Pff, I snort, "I'm British."

The rain is indeed bucketing. Defiantly I go out in flipflops, adoring the wet beration as a too infrequent reminder of home. Still, I underestimate the winds, and so without hat I suffer the keen of the chill on my newshorn bonce. On Palm Walk two blacks cross my path; one of them is rapping. His skillz are, as they say, ill—although I am insufficiently familiar with the modern rap oeuvre to determine the man's originality.

The walk to campus is always a bit grim. How I long for a sense of place amid these ugly rubbles—they're building a light rail here, and sometimes it seems as though the level of union-sabotaged construction is reaching Bostonian proportions.

Ah, America.

Mrs. Roth found a man with a cart putting up star-spangled banners and U. S. Constitutions on faux-parchment all over the Art History department; it turns out that the school has only now gotten around to observing a state bill passed last July, requiring the presence of these objects in every classroom, school and college. No funding for this initiative was provided, and private benefactors have had to cough up the money. Now, apparently, a new bill has been passed requiring a framed portrait of G. W. Bush behind every lectern. Local councils are debating an addition to the morning ritual—I pledge allegiance to the Lord President our Savior—and Ira Fulton has moved to introduce Books of Mormon into the junior curriculum statewide, with weekly tests mandatory. Hail to the chief!

14 comments:

Siganus Sutor said...

Now, apparently, a new bill has been passed requiring a framed portrait of G. W. Bush behind every lectern. Local councils are debating an addition to the morning ritual—I pledge allegiance to the Lord President our Savior

Conrad, if I didn't know how naughty a tease you could be, I would be quite worried about what you are saying here. But — thank the Lord — we all know that you are used to making fun of (nearly) everything on this earth.

Incidentally, I have been wondering for some time whether in English there should be a space before and after the dash — be it “en” or “em”. I have seen both and I must confess that my French-biased eyes tend to prefer the spaced option.

Conrad H. Roth said...

"there should be a space before and after the dash"

This is really a matter of taste, and a matter on which my own views have evolved over time, as follows:

But-thank the Lord-we

But--thank the Lord--we

But – thank the Lord – we

But — thank the Lord — we

But—thank the Lord—we

There's no clear answer here. I was, on the other hand, surprised to find the French leaving spaces before punctuation such as question-marks; but that is one of many bibliographical differences; others being the use of « » for “ ”, putting a book's contents at the back, and having the spine-title the wrong way around.

Language said...

Wiktionary seems to think "beration" is a word, but it is unknown to the OED and to Webster's Third; furthermore, you don't seem to be using it in the Wiktionarian sense. Typo or some form of wordplay I'm not getting?

(I too prefer dashes without spaces, but anarchic English allows you to use whatever looks best to you as long as you're consistent.)

Conrad H. Roth said...

I just meant that the rain was 'berating' me, so to speak. I suppose I also rather like the suggestion that my attitude and actions were something of an aberration.

Megan Bayliss said...

Rain or no rain, dash or no dash, space or not: CONGRATULATIONS to you and your entertaining writing at having made today's blog of note.

R2K said...

Nice page.page.p

john evans said...

Just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing. I wish I had a tenth of your skills at making a sentence flow and dance without seeming trite. I am afraid I will always be a rather blue collar kind of communicator but I sure appreciate wonderful writing when I come across it.

TCA said...

Huh?

The Yacht Broker said...

I wish I could speak english like you can!

Nice blog, gonna come here from time to time to learn language :o)

Conrad H. Roth said...

Thanks, all, and welcome.

joel said...

I'll have to join the crowd and applaud your skillful usage of the English language. Your writing is both entertaining and intelligent, which is sadly an uncommon find in this day!

Congratulations on being featured!

~Joel -- aside_the_line

Siganus Sutor said...

having the spine-title the wrong way around
Oh, please, don't mention this neck-breaking swinging of one's head from left to right induced by a shelf containing both English and French titles. My torticollis hasn't been too bad so far as, fortunately, most of my books are in one language only.

I am quite amazed to hear — “there's no clear answer here”, “anarchic English allows you to use whatever looks best to you” — that there is no complete set of fixed typographic rule in the cultural anglosphere (read “la perfide Albion et alliés”). How on earth will the “Anglo-American hegemony” prevail?

« I was, on the other hand, surprised to find the French leaving spaces before punctuation such as question-marks »
Even if it may look baffling in the beginning, I think, for once, that the frogs are right to a certain extent here. The sentence may be easier to read as, when they are detached from the preceding word, you are less likely to miss the seamarks guiding the navigator : question, exclamation or quotation mark, colon, semi-colon, etc. appear more clearly, don't you think so ? The danger, however, lies in the so-called “non-breaking space”, which often turns out to be not as monolithically built as its name would suggest.

Conrad H. Roth said...

The contents-at-the-back is an even bigger bitch than the spine issue to me. There's something very wrong about it. Perhaps the key with the latter is just to buy books with the spine-text at right-angles to the spine.

"How on earth will the “Anglo-American hegemony” prevail?"

Strength in diversity, my friend. Cyrus and Caesar, who let each religion practise as they wished, fared better than Nebuchadnezzar and Haman. It is why the West won, no?

Shawn Thuris said...

Publishers refer to the dashes as "open" or "closed" and try to keep them consistent within a document, or if the document contains charts or tables, at least consistent across all examples of that page element. I like open ems, but they are quite space-hungry. Online I'm stuck with double-hyphens, thus: --. Blah! So ugly.