Scripturient: Thoughts on reading Ulysses

Onomatopoeia. Odd, sometimes, entertaining too. Like speed bumps that make you slow down and silently mouth the letters. A slow smile at the sound it makes in your head. Alliteration. Anastrophe. Joycean wordplay. What is that word? A neologism? Or some Irish colloquialism? An anachronism? Another language? Or more playful spelling? So many to stumble ...

Things Are Good: How to Have Better Conversations

Talking with others about certain issues can be challenging for you or the other person. You may leave such conversations feeling awkward or worse, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Social interaction and language researcher Elizabeth Stokoe, along with colleagues, looked into what we should say and how when talking with others. They ...

Scripturient: The House on the Borderland

“But for a few touches of commonplace sentimentality [it] would be a classic of the first water.” So said H. P. Lovecraft of the 1908 novel, The House on the Borderland, by William Hope Hodgson. But, Lovecraft admitted, the book was also a major influence on his own, later work. And for good reason: it ...

Politics and its Discontents: He Who Controls Language, Controls Thought

“A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it ...

Dented Blue Mercedes: Free Speech, When The “Debate” is You (and You’re Not Invited)

Shout: “Help, I’m being silenced!” There’s a duplicitous game of sleight-of-hand that is taking place in discussions about freedom of speech in academia and the public square. Here’s how it works: at first, a person fishes for controversy by saying several things that they know will offend people.  If this garners enough attention, then the ...

Things Are Good: I Swear This is Good for You

An explicative can do way more than just add spice to your sentence, it can improve your life. Emma Byrne argues in her new book that swearing is a social good and we should be happy about it. In the book, Swearing Is Good For You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, she shows the ...

Dead Wild Roses: The DWR Quote of the Day – On Language – John Le Carré

“Clear language – lucid, rational language – to a man at war with both truth and reason, is an existential threat. Clear language to such a man is a direct assault on his obfuscations, contradictions and lies. To him, it is the voice of the enemy. To him, it is fake news. Because he knows, ...

Dead Wild Roses: Untranslatable German Words

   I do like the Germans and their language specific words, here is a list of some of them. 🙂 Engelsgeduld: (lit.: angel’s patience) great amount of patience Feierabend: (lit.: party-evening) the rest of the day that remains after work Fernweh: the desire/longing to travel to faraway places/ foreign countries Fingerspitzengefühl: (lit.: fingertips-feeling) good skill ...

Scripturient: Cultural appropriation is the new gluten free

Like food fads, political fads wax and wane as the gnat-like attention span of their followers gets diverted by the Next Big Thing. Political Correctness has of late given birth to Cultural Appropriation just like the gluten-free food fad gave rise to lectin-free food fad. All such fads are fuelled by the earnest desire of ...

Scripturient: Square words

Writing has been described as the most significant human invention. We tend to think of inventions as mechanical things, like the wheel, or fire, or the printing press, the airplane, the internal combustion engine or cell phone. But without writing, few of them would exist. Writing allowed us to share the others, to improve them, ...

Dead Wild Roses: Pronouns Aren’t Malicious – Gender Stereotypes, Different Story.

Auntie Wanda on the Pronoun Game. “Pronouns refer to visible sex and a man is referred to as a “he.”   Not everyone has to play your word games.” “Pronouns aren’t malicious, they’re neutral words that refer to female people and male people respectively. The knowledge that our species has two sexes isn’t malicious either.  I’ve ...

Dented Blue Mercedes: What the “Walk on the Wild Side” controversy says about trans* awareness and a changing social movement

A little over a week ago, a University of Guelph student union drew international ire for condemning Lou Reed’s 1972 song “Walk on the Wild Side” as transphobic.  This occurred after the Central Student Association apologized on social media for playing the song at a campus event.  Although this might seem like a minor thing ...

In This Corner: The Return of Stuff Happens, week 5: Horror hits home; Trudeau breaks a promise; Stupor Bowl ads

Events on Sunday in Quebec City served as a reminder, if we needed one, that Canada is not immune to madness. Last Sunday, a sad loser walked into a Quebec City mosque and opened fire on people who were praying. Yes, praying. He killed six,  injuring many others; it could have been so much worse. ...

Scripturient: Eheu fugaces, Postume…

Alas, Postumus, the swift years slip away. Those words are one translation of the opening line of the 14th Ode in the second book of Horace’s carminas, or songs: Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume/labuntur anni… * For me, it’s his most moving piece, a bittersweet acceptance of mortality; the inevitability of age and death. Something no ...

Scripturient: Politically correct pronoun madness

Scripturient: Horace and him. And maybe me, too.

Horace and Me, subtitled Life lessons from an Ancient Poet, is a recent book by Harry Eyres (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2013) about his efforts to connect the dots of his modern life to meaning via the ancient circuitry of a classical Latin poet. It attracted me because these past few years I have been reading such classics ...

Dented Blue Mercedes: Free speech, and the cruel shackles of empathy and mutual respect

In Canada, we tend to value freedom of speech very highly, and it’s often said that the best way to counter objectionable speech is with more speech. That’s the first thought that crosses my mind in the case of U of T professor Jordan Peterson, who declares in a series of YouTube videos that he ...

Scripturient: Fowler for the 21st Century

On the desk of every writer, every reporter, every editor, every PR director and every communications officer is a small library of reference books. A good dictionary (Oxford, American Heritage, Merriam Webster, Random House but gods forbid, never a generic Webster’s). A thesaurus (likely Roget’s). A style guide (CP for Canadians, or AP for Americans… ...

Dead Wild Roses: A Word for Everything – German Envy – “Politikverdrossenheit”

I spent my years learning French in Highschool(and now forgotten). Now with double the disappointment as I realize how word-awesome German is. Consider this small list: Weltschmerz – world weariness. Schadenfreude – a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people Backpfeifengesicht – It describes someone who you ...

Scripturient: Type Crimes and Taxes

Type crime is the term author Ellen Lupton uses in her book, Thinking With Type, to describe egregiously bad typography. That description came to mind as I perused the latest fluff mailer from our MP; the so-called “Tax Guide.” So-called because it isn’t a guide: it’s the usual, dreary Conservative whack-a-mole propaganda about how great ...

Writings of J. Todd Ring: Confronting Evil: Not with a bang, but a whimper? Neither, I say

Yes, it is best to be cordial, courteous, friendly and respectful, and to avoid harsh words and harsh speech, generally speaking. But when it comes to confronting power, when it comes to addressing the power elite and their willing vassals, servants, prostitutes in high office and other shills, we must be fierce, and uncompromising – ...

Scripturient: Teas or Tisanes?

I suppose it’s crotchety of me, but whenever I hear the term “herbal tea” used to refer to an infusion of leaves or fruits that contains no actual tea, I get shirty. They’re actually not tea at all, they’re tisanes, a pleasant French word that means’herbal infusion.’ They should be called such and labelled appropriately ...

Scripturient: Myth and Meaning

People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the physical plane will have resonance within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually ...

Scripturient: The Secret to Good Writing

Spoiler alert: the secret to writing well is…. (insert drum roll)… writing. Writing a lot. Every day. Every possible minute you can spare. Writing and writing more and then writing even more. But doing so within a pre-specified limit. Oops… Now we all know that, aside from some local bloggers and EB columnists, most of ...

Scripturient: Grammatical Hell in a Handbasket

The Washington Post has started the apocalypse. Yes, they have. And the whole world is about to go to hell in the proverbial handbasket because of it. The maw of Hell has opened… The Post has decided after decades – centuries? – of editors, writers and grammarians arguing about the lack of gender-neutral singular pronouns in ...