Posts Tagged ‘Grammar’

English Gramma(r) and sharing a banana.

January 3, 2019

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Is it true that todays bananas are getting bigger or am I shrinking, and the comparison is at fault? In any case, I now share the banana with Helvi. It is part of our morning ritual, as is our blood pressure measuring. This morning it was a nice 105 over 66 with a pulse of 82. I generally cut the banana with a large cleaver. Sometimes Helvi does it too but uses a smaller knife. After all that, we proceed with opening our pill boxes and take the first of a range of medications spaced out through the rest of the day. In between morning’s duties we sip coffee and tea between talk.

Part of my school education back in Holland was the learning of four languages. It was compulsory at that time for all students going through a high school. Learning English started at Primary school. After our family left Holland 1956, my school education stopped and since then my limited learning of world’s  language skills came through curiosity and reading. It was a case of self-educating and becoming an ‘autodidact’ as is sometimes called.

I was fascinated to read how the English language evolved. English is a typical product of illogicality. I remember as a schoolboy being annoyed that English words were not pronounced as they were written. It is baffling why the language lacks phonetics. Normal languages pronounce words as they are written, but of course, not in England.  The English language is just part of a culture steeped in Illogicality. Just listen to their parliament or Fawlty Towers. They are both the same. And then the circus of Brexit!

I was heartened to read in a book ‘The Lexicographer’s Dilemma, by Jack Lynch, that through the decades attempts were made to simplify English. George Bernard Shaw campaigned to make it more phonetic but with frustratingly little success. In 1906 the Simplified Spelling Board attempted to change the spelling of many words but it turned out even more complicated. Here below are just a few examples how this attempt made the English language even more strange and difficult.

autograf-autograph, biografy-biography, crum-crumb, dout-doubt, tung-tongue. etc

As one can see, the new way of spelling became even less rational. It added letters , mainly consonants, that are not used in speech. They remain unuttered and left unspoken. It is now totally out of the question to make English more phonetic with spelling reforms. We will just have to put up with an abundance of spelling mistakes that is common even amongst those having grown up with just English without the benefits knowing a second or third language.

English  despite it being a difficult and obstinate language, remains the world most spoken language. I like it for its complexities and nuances. It remains to be my favourite tongue. Yet, in my dreams I still speak Dutch.  That language hasn’t left but am unsure if expressing it would be now as fluent (or clumsy) as my English.

Who knows?

From Wiki; ” Phonetic, using a system of written symbols that represent speech sounds in a way that is very close to how they actually sound.”

 

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The pernicious Comma and other Dodgy Literary Devices.

January 27, 2016

Reflecting on the many omissions of commas and other matters of punctuation in ‘Almost There,’ I read some more of Anne Tyler’s ripping tale  ‘A spool of blue thread.’  (Note the quotation mark after the full stop.  I have come a long way!)

With so much still to learn, I now seem to read only the punctuations and not the story anymore. I just want to find out how to go about it. The little booklet; My Grammar and I, by Caroline Taggart is most helpful. Actually, I am reading Anne Tyler’s tortuous tale of family upheavals and other disasters, more for the quotation marks than the story. I have enough on my plate just with that.

I mean, what to make of a dangling participle, or modifying clauses? Are my dangling participles showing up as well? As soon I conquer one of those grammarian items another pops up. Give us a break.

Our home

Our home

Here another bit to pore over from, ‘Almost There.’

Those with good memories would know that, thanks to Germaine Greer, the bra was more and more seen as a fashion article of enslavement, a tool to keep them (breasts) propped up, purely for the sake of looks and salivating males. It went further and it was suggested, they were designed together with girdles and make-up, as a ploy to keep women shackled to the kitchen sink and nappy buckets. It was therefore also suggested to ditch the bra and if a droop resulted, be proud and walk tall. Together with ditching the bra, radical lesbianism was embraced.

I never witnessed any bra burning or rampaging lesbians but do remember going to a party held at a professor of philosophy house who insisted all women hang their bras on the front door knob before allowed in. They all did, and it was one of the more memorable parties in Balmain.

I have been credited in Balmain, still even today, of having lifted the ban, not on bras, but on men not being allowed to babysit. The stranglehold of some women on insisting only women would be allowed to babysit was broken when in all innocence I turned up one evening. A nervous mother made a hurried telephone call to the secretary, and after a while, it was decided I could baby sit. The year was 1973. With my Dutch and Helvi’s heritage I never even thought that it was solely the domain of women in our home countries to sit on babies. Anyway, it was different then in Australia. From the early seventies, 1973 to be precise, men were allowed to babysit at each other’s houses. It was a male revolution on par with bra burning. You can thank Gerard for this!

It was odd that some women felt emancipated by going bra-less and yet thought that it was a bit dodgy for male friends to do some babysitting.

It should be written up in our history books or at least on Wikipedia.

The proof is in the reading (not in the pudding.)

January 22, 2016

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Not very knowledgeable about books and the journey to getting them published, it is never too late to learn about it. While the story or message in the book is what readers are generally interested in, clarity of the story/message must be foremost.  But… there is so much more than just clarity!

I never really knew about all the commas, inverted or otherwise, nor exclamation marks, quotation, or question marks.  I did know a full stop comes at the end of a sentence. I do try and show off prowess by using many marks inappropriately. I hope that by using them profusely I might confuse or fool some readers. I don’t think so.

Only yesterday I learnt that exclamation marks came into being hundreds of years ago. “The exclamation mark was first introduced into English printing in the 15th century to show emphasis, and was called the “sign of admiration or exclamation”.

Hyphens  have a life on their own and worthy of a separate article. In re-reading my forthcoming book ‘Almost There,’  punctuation and exclamation marks are scattered around like confetti at a drunken RSL club wedding or oaths during a Welsh rugby match.

I have been busy with getting rid of many of those marks but have to keep referring to a handy little book, : my grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?).  !Note the three marks of, 1 inverted comma,  2 the question mark and 3 the closing bracket after just one word!

So, in summing up. It is not just having reasonable word order. The order also has to be maintained in  Stops, Commas, Question marks, Exclamation marks, Colons, Semicolons, Dashes, Hyphens, Quotation marks,  Apostrophes Possessive or otherwise.

Here a bit previously written and posted and now in ‘Almost There.’

“A good friend left a message on our answering service yesterday congratulating us on 50 years of marriage. How did this come about? It only seems like yesterday. We had totally forgotten. We have never stood still reflecting much on wedding anniversaries. We do of course remember each other’s birthdays. Christmases too come and go. The important thing is to get up each day and celebrate that marvelous event more than the one yearly or one in fifty years event.

Here is how!

“How did you sleep?” “Very good, how about you?” “Oh, very good, just went to toilet just once, I think it was at 4.30, or no, it might have been a bit earlier, perhaps 3.30.” “I slept very deeply again afterwards, ‘like an angel’. “You don’t look like an angel, get a haircut today, you look wild, more like a Hottentot.” ” Yes, but then I have to wash my hair, take a shower too.” “So what?” “Have you got a problem, taking a shower?” “No, not that, but it is still too early.” “You are not too early with being banal.” “Yes, I know, feel free! It is not too late. Many would find you very attractive, and you’ve got lovely eyes.” “Get #u&&et.” “How’s the coffee dear?” “Strong enough?” “Yes, it is a nice one today.” “It’s Lavazza, ground. We are on the last kilo.” “OK, next when it is on special we get two kilo’s again.” “Yes, at Farmers Market.” “I had a stomach cramp during the night.” “I might have eaten too much of the hummus.” “Yes, I noticed you were hoeing into it last night with the crackers too. Were you hungry?” “You’re a very healthy girl, you eat more than me!” “Not as healthy as you will be, emptying the red again.” “Well, you know after the drive from Sydney, one needs a bit of a relaxation.” “You say that every night”. “Yes, I know, but we don’t take any medication, you’ve got to have something”! We don’t smoke, don’t take any medication, live frugally, still have most of our teeth. So what if we drink a bit?” “True, dear, especially if it is a good one”. “I might go upstairs and check the blogs. Have you looked yet?” “No, I haven’t. I am still tired.” “Oh, there you go again, meckering as usual. Cheer up.” “I am cheery, have you looked at the lilies, another one has opened up, there are now three open”. “Yes, I noticed, make another coffee and take it upstairs”. “Alright dear, I will.”

And that is the answer to how fifty years have passed. (And all too quickly).”