Saturday, March 28, 2020

Hands across the sea, part 2

Did you think Part 1 was rather short and ended abruptly? That’s because there wasn’t supposed to be a part 2. I thought I had saved what I had been working on and stepped away from the computer to walk the dog and eat supper and make a list for our firstborn to take with him to the grocery store on Saturday. I intended to come back later and continue with that post, but something unexpected happened that took me by surprise, as unexpected things are wont to do.

I received a comment in my email inbox from Red in Alberta, Canada, on the post that I didn’t think I had published.


Obviously I had clicked on something other than the Save button and that something was obviously the Publish button.

As Gomer Pyle used to say, “Surprise! Surprise!”

When the world hands you a lemon, you do what Ann Landers, the famous advice columnist (British, agony aunt) said to do. You make lemonade.

In this case, making lemonade means acting as if nothing had happened, so I decided to call the first post, which didn’t even have a title, Hands across the sea, part 1.

Welcome to Part 2 of Hands across the sea!

We’ll pick up where we left off.

There are many differences between the two countries (the two countries being the U.K. and the U.S.) in the spelling of words.

I had found some great colored (British, coloured) charts of the major differences between U.K. English and U.S. English, with a few examples of each. You could probably name the families: -ise vs. -ize, -our vs. -or, -re vs. -er, double consonants vs. single consonants (ll vs. l, pp vs, p), oe vs. e, ae vs e, and so forth. They were neat and I wanted to plop them into this post. Now I can't find them. Pity. Or as the French say, C'est dommage.

But I did find a "comprehensive" list of 1,800 words we spell differently. Simply click here if you want to peruse it.

The first word pair I checked for isn't even in the comprehensive list. Whinge and whine. So much for the list's comprehensiveness.

In my exhaustive research (it is to laugh), I discovered the main reason we do things differently. It's all traceable to the dictionaries we base our language on, I mean on which we base our language. Dr. Samuel Johnson's dictionary in England was created in 1755 and Noah Webster's dictionary in the United States was created in 1828. Webster favored what he called "simplifying" the language. Lots of words on both sides of the Atlantic have fallen into disuse, and lots of new words have come along. The Oxford Englsh Dictionary, first published in 1884 and now running to nearly 22,000 pages, is the prime example, but we still hearken back to our 1755 or 1828 preferences when it comes to spelling.

Some new things that come along require the invention of new words, and some new things that come along just combine existing words in ways they never were before, like his husband and her wife.

Another very long post could be made on the different names we have for things, like nappy vs. diaper, lorry vs. truck, loo vs. bathroom, biscuit vs. cookie, chips vs. French Fries. The list goes on and on and on. It could be Part 3, but don't hold your breath. It's been done to death.

Here's a look at the title page of the second edition of Dr. Johnson's dictionary:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Hands across the sea, part 1

Our English friend Yorkshire Pudding took me to task in a comment on the preceding post for having made reference to Red Skelton’s television program.

“Dear boy,” he said, “over here in the birthplace of the English language we use ‘programme’ for television and ‘program’ for computers.”

For your information, I used U.S.-style punctuation in the previous sentence. Here is the same sentence using British-style punctuation:

‘Dear boy,’ he said, ‘over here in the birthplace of the English language we use “programme” for television and “program” for computers’.

Count the ways in which the two sentences differ. How many differences did you find?

I found nine. Do you need to go back and count again?

There are many well-known differences between the two countries in the spelling of words as well.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Absolutely the last thing I'm going to say on the subject

...of song titles that contain girls' names or boys' names is this:

How could we possibly have overlooked "What's It All About, Alfie?" ????

I hate using multiple punctuation marks, especially (God help us) multiple question marks, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Wouldn't you agree????

Don't answer that.

I think the extra punctuation lends just the right degree of hysteria.

Some people, mostly Americans, confuse the words desperate and disparate, prostrate and prostate (speaking of God help us), and exasperate and exacerbate.

I'm sure none of you reading this would ever be guilty of such a thing.

The English books never mention desperate/disparate or prostrate/prostate or exasperate/exacerbate, tending rather to concentrate on affect and effect and there and their and they're.

Even Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals, couldn't top Yogi Berra, who once said, "Texas has a lot of electrical votes."

I feel I am going down a rabbit trail.

Well, so did Alice and look where it got her. In Wonderland, that's where.

Another pair of words Americans are always mixing up in their writing are (is?) were and where. I'm serious. Sometimes I feel that I live in Wonderland already.

I repeat, God help us.

I have resisted so far writing about what Alphie Soup referred to in a comment yesterday as the big world event whose name must not be spoken. A lot of other bloggers are fixated on that very thing, and the folks on Facebook speak of little else these days. I may cave eventually, but that time is not yet.

I will now close the post the same way Red Skelton used to close his weekly television program (British, programme) back in the day.

Good night, and may God bless.

Monday, March 23, 2020

That was fun

I'm referring to the last two posts, one about song titles with girls' names and the other about song titles with boys' names. Collectively, we named more than 60 girl songs and 24 boy songs. I'm sure there are more.

It just occurred to me that no one mentioned "Delilah" by Tom Jones or "Wake Up, Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers.

I suppose this could go on and on but we should bring it to a close and move on to another subject.

Before we do, however, reader Graham Edwards in Scotland said that several of Bob Dylan's songs mentioned his name. Bob's name, I mean, not Graham's. I was never a big follower of Bob Dylan since his voice always sounded to me like a cat had got its tail caught in a mop pail wringer, so if "Blowin' In The Wind" didn't contain the name Bob I was oblivious. If any of you know which songs Graham was referring to, please name them in the comments.

Here to help you along is a list, in alphabetic order, of songs written by Bob Dylan.

A close examination of the list will yield several more songs with boys' names and girls' names in the title, also to which I was oblivious.

You can thank me later.

Or not.

(Dylan performing in the De Kuip Stadium, Rotterdam, June 23, 1978. Photo by Chris Haakens used in accordance with CC BY SA 2.0)

Here are two more people from way back when.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A little post-mortem and Equal time

In the preceding post I listed 50 songs with girls' names in the title (and also in the lyrics, which I forgot to stipulate). After the list I thought of "Helen Had A Steamboat" which made 51. In the comments, Kathy thought of "Annie's Song" by John Denver, but it doesn't include Annie in the lyrics. I thought of "Nita, Juanita" which is from way back in the 19th century but was used during the 1940s and 1950s as the lead-in and sign-off music each day for the radio soap opera Helen Trent. I'm pretty sure Helen didn't have a steamboat. I also thought of "Ramona". Alphie Soup thought of "Ruby Tuesday" and "Cecelia" and "Dinah" (good show, Alphie!) which suddenly brought to mind "Diana" by Paul Anka. All of these bring the total (so far) to 58 if we count "Annie's Song" and 57 if we don't. Quite a collection! Oh, I completely forgot about "Reuben and Rachel". One more and we'll have 60 if we count "Annie's Song".

I think the boys deserve equal time. I'll bet there are not nearly as many songs about boys. There are thousands about Jesus, but let's exclude all but one of those.

1. Sweet Little Jesus Boy

2. Reuben and Rachel

3. Frankie and Johnny

4. When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

5. Oh, Where Have You Been, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

6. Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley

7. I'm Just Wild About Harry

8. Me And Bobby McGee

9. Jimmy Cracked Corn And I Don't Care

10. Oh, Danny Boy

11. Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho

12. Sam, You Made The Pants Too Long

13. Tall Paul

That’s a baker’s dozen. How many more can you come up with?

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Earworms R Us, or Maxwellton Braes Are Bonnie Where Early Fa's The Dew

Yesterday I started thinking about song titles with girls' names in them, and I decided to jot them down. Before you could say "Jack Robinson" (not a girl's name), I had the following list of 50 songs. If you can't find something hummable in there, it's not my fault. And if one of the tunes gets stuck in your head, it's not my fault either. Well, yes, I suppose it is, now that you mention it. I'm sorry I didn't put the list in alphabetic order, but you can do that yourself to help pass the time during your long hours of self-quarantine.

1. Annie Laurie

2. Aura Lee

3. I Dream Of Jeannie (With The Light Brown Hair)

4. I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen

5. K-K-K-Katy

6. Mary's A Grand Old Name

7. Annie Had A Baby, Can't Work No More

8. Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie

9. I Was Seeing Nellie Home

10. Lily Marlene

11. If You Knew Susie Like I Know Susie

12. Ida (Sweeter Than Apple Cider)

13. Laura

14. Margie, I’m Always Thinking Of You, Margie

15. All Day, All Night, Mary Ann

16. Good Night, Irene

17. Bar-Bar-Bar, Bar-Barbara Ann

18. My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean

19. Long Tall Sally

20. Once In Love With Amy

21. When Joanna Loved Me

22. Lulu’s Back In Town

23. Every Little Breeze Seems To Whisper Louise

24. Mandy

25. Roberta

26. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town

27. Billie Jean

28. Daisy, Daisy (A Bicycle Built For Two)

29. Fanny

30. Tangerine

31. Sweet Betsy From Pike

32. Lucille

33. My Darling Clementine

34. Thoroughly Modern Millie

35. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

36. In My Sweet Little Alice-Blue Gown

37. Oh, Susanna!

38. Jolene

39. Waltzing Matilda

40. Sweet Adeline

41. Charmaine

42. Sweet Lorraine

43. Hello, Dolly

44. Sweet Georgia Brown

45. Frankie and Johnny

46. Michelle (Ma Belle)

47. Mona Lisa

48. Maybelline

49. Maria, I Just Met A Girl Named Maria

50. How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?

Oh, yes, and how could we possibly forget "Helen Had A Steamboat"? I'm sure there are others, but my brain is tired.

Of the peppier songs in that list, the one I like best is "Tangerine" by the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra from 1942 with Bob Eberle and Helen O'Connell on the vocals (3:16).

For slow songs, my favorite has to be "When Joanna Loved Me" by Tony Bennett (3:08).

If those don't suit your fancy, get your own earworm.

In the comments, tell me some other song titles with girls' names because I'm sure there must be many others. But do not say "Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Carolina In The Morning" because the Carolina in question is not a girl but a U.S. state named for King Charles I of England. And do not say "Georgia On My Mind" because that Georgia is not a girl either, but a U.S. state named for King George II. And the June in "June Is Bustin' Out All Over" is a month of the year.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Lo, how the mighty are fallen, or I am not always right

First things first: On this day -- March 19, 2020 -- the vernal equinox will take place for most of the Americas. It will occur at 11:50 pm Eastern Daylight Time, ten minutes before tomorrow comes. The rest of the world will see its arrival in the early hours of March 20 because of a little thing called time zones. This year's vernal equinox happens to be the earliest it has occurred in 124 years.

My barber calls me a walking enyclopedia.

I hope people don't find me annoying. If I encountered me, I probably would be annoyed. I do know a lot of stuff, mostly trivia. I don't study it or learn it on purpose, it’s just that things I hear or read seem to get stuck in my memory banks. My theme song ought to be "You're Easy To Remember, But So Hard To Forget."

However, there are big gaps in my memory banks, subjects about which I know very little and subject about which I know absolutely nothing. I try to avoid those subjects as much as possible because I don't want my abysmal ignorance in certain areas to be on display.

One of my favorite television programs is Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek. I love to call out the answers and many times I am right, but many times I don't have a clue. Well, they give me a clue, but it doesn't help.

What stuns me are the times I know the answer or make an educated guess based on the clue and not one of the three Jeopardy! players presses a buzzer. In recent days I have found myself yelling "Haile Selassie!" and "Tweedledum and Tweedledee!" and "Singapore Sling!" at the screen, but the contestants never seem to hear me. By way of explanation, I am not a drinker, but I am, as I said, a reader and a listener. The category was Alliterative Two-Word Names Of Alcoholic Drinks and the clue, which was most helpful, mentioned the Malayan peninsula, so what else could it have been? One contestant guessed Rob Roy but the last time I looked, Scotland was not on the Malayan peninsula.

The Final Jeopardy question the other night was something about a movie studio's high water bill during filming of a movie in 1952. I said Singing In The Rain (one of those "What else could it be?" moments) and two people answered correctly, but one woman had written down The Wizard Of Oz. Everybody knows that The Wizard Of Oz was released in 1939, not 1952. Don't they? Apparently not.

This is long and meandering, but I'll get to the point eventually.

Yesterday our 23-year-old grandson drove us 20 miles to my monthly eye appointment so that I could have another injection in my right eye for macular degeneration. Normally I can do the driving, but this month I was scheduled to have my eyes dilated, and it would have been rather difficult to drive the 20 miles back home with my eyes dilated.

On the way I was telling him that last month I was examined by a new technician who told me his name was Mel. Tall, thin, and black, Mel spoke with an accent I couldn't identify. He told me without my even asking that Mel was short for Melchizedek. I recognized the name from the story of Abraham in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament, so I assumed he came from a Christian family. I asked him where he had come to the U.S. from and he said he had spent the last five years in the U.K., but that he was from Ghana originally.

At this point, my grandson said, "Oh, Ghana! That makes sense that he went to the U.K. because Ghana is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations."

I, the family walking encyclopedia/know-it-all, said, "No, I don't think Ghana is one of the British Commonwealth nations."

My grandson said he must be thinking of another country starting with G.

I knew it couldn't be Gibraltar because Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, not a Commonwealth nation, so I, being my ever-clever self, said, "Gaustralia!". He laughed, and when I said "Ganada!" he laughed even more. My third possibility was G-New Zealand. "And it's still pronounced New Zealand," he said, "because the G is silent!"

We always laugh a lot when we're together.

Hours later, back home, in the evening, something made me google British Commonwealth of Nations. There it was, plain as day: Ghana.

I pulled out my smart phone and texted my grandson. "I'm only going to say this once. You were right and I was wrong! Ghana IS a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I looked it up."

He replied, "Be still my beating heart! I never thought this day would come. HaHa".

My mother used to say, "Pride goeth before a fall" which is also from the Old Testament (Book of Proverbs). It's not an exact quotation. The full quote is "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

My hope is that I am neither proud nor haughty even though others are always telling me how much I know. What I know is how much I don't know. No, that's wrong. I don't have a clue how much I don't know, but I'm sure it's voluminous.

If you catch me getting proud or haughty, you have my permission to sneak up on me and kick me in the behind.