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Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’ and bad luck

Jon Finch loses his head in Polanski's film of Macbeth / alucine.es

Jon Finch loses his head in Polanski’s film of Macbeth / alucine.es

Macbeth is William Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, written between 1603 and 1607. The play contains many of the Bard’s most famous and usually ill-quoted lines, such as “Bubble, bubble” instead of ‘Double, double, toil and trouble’; “and good men’s lives expire before the feathers in their cap”; “is this a dagger I see before me?”; “at least I’ll die with harness on my back!” and so on. (more…)

English section: Gobbledegook & Officialese

An onomatopoeic word is one that derives its meaning from the sound it makes. The accepted dictionary word ‘gobbledegook’ decidedly comes from the sound made by most poultry animals in the farmyard, especially turkeys. The term evokes unintelligible language, gibberish and nonsense, intentional or unintentional. The former is common in the speech of the under-educated, and in semi-educated writing. The latter is particularly to be found in the works of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. Lear used it supremely well in his ‘limericks’ such as this one:

‘There was an old lady of Chertsey,

Who made a remarkable curtsey;

She twirled round and round,

Till she sank underground,

Which distressed the people of Chertsey’. (more…)

By | 2013-04-08T16:39:31+00:00 April 8th, 2013|English History, English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Today|0 Comments

The US Supreme Court and homosexual marriage


Alexander, 3 state marriages and one lifetime lover he could not marry /alexanderhephaistion.com

Alexander, 3 state marriages and one lifetime lover he could not marry /alexanderhephaistion.com

Just now the US Supreme Court is busy debating the rights and wrongs of legalizing in federal terms the joining together in sacred or civil marriage of two people, both of the male sex, or the female. Several, thirteen I believe American States have already made homosexual marriage legal, while several more are not sure, and over thirty of the remaining states have turned the idea down again and again. Meanwhile, powerful lobbies, social platforms, societies and even violently inclined bands are hard at work across the world explaining the urgent need for matrimony between members of the same sex. They will brook no argument. You are with us or against us. You are a decent, compassionate supporter of gay rights including marriage, or you are a homophobe, a queer-basher and, worst of all, ancient and old-fashioned. (more…)

By | 2013-03-28T09:52:34+00:00 March 28th, 2013|English Language, Philosophy, Today, US History|0 Comments

Saturday Spoofs; early April Fool’s Day biographies

 Pilloch, N.G., Baron Pilloch of Bedwetty was born one day during the Second World War. He became a Socialist after losing his temper with a nanny who possesed patrician accents. This lady was fired by Pilloch’s Socialist parents, to encourage the child’s Labour tendencies. In no time at all he became Labour MP and Leader of the Opposition. In the Seventies he was made a member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party but managed things so loosely the Labour Party kept losing office. Finally he led the Opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s second and third administrations; it was to no avail because Mrs Thatcher could never remember his name and could not see him on the Opposition benches. After more electoral defeats in the Eighties he resigned as Labour’s leader and joined the other failures at the European Commission, much to the relief of the British Labour Party. His life peerage came in 2005 but he never became Prime Minister, though he had nastily promised his nanny that he would. (more…)

Proletarian colloquial expressions in English

“You could’ve knocked me darn wiv a fevver!

Like all languages, the English of the lower orders is filled with expressions, usually of surprise at events. Most first appeared in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, but many entered the language during the twentieth, especially during and after the first and second world wars. Some are of American origin. Some are obscene, some appear to be blasphemous –  a mispronounced version of ‘God’ often starts the phrase. Here are some examples, with their (suspected or proven meaning): (more…)

By | 2013-02-27T10:46:37+00:00 February 27th, 2013|English History, English Language, US History|0 Comments

Sturdy Beggars


Whipping a beggar throughj the streets / aworldelsewhere-finn.blogspot.com

Whipping a beggar throughj the streets / aworldelsewhere-finn.blogspot.com

In the so-called ‘developed’ societies since the end of the Second World War many children are brought up by unthinking parents to believe that work is something other people get. The idea of actually finding some work that pays rarely enters the mind of these children as they grown into adulthood. They have brought up in ‘The Welfare State’. In this demi-paradise they learn that the world owes them a living; they have their rights; ‘what do we pay our taxes for?’; ‘who needs education anyway?’ ‘who wants a job anyway?’ etcetera.

It may come as a surprise to know that in the English Poor Law of 1531, barely five hundred years ago, able-bodied persons who chose not to work were classed as ‘sturdy beggars’. Cynics today may pronounce these two words naughtily reversing the ‘u’ and the ‘e’, but that is not my province. (more…)

By | 2013-02-20T10:14:26+00:00 February 20th, 2013|English History, English Language, Humour, Philosophy, Today, US History|2 Comments

Lancastrians and Yorkists

Edward IV (York) King of England / en.wikipedia.org

Edward IV (York) King of England / en.wikipedia.org

There is more to the intense rivalry between Yorkshire and Lancashire than mere cricket, though one has to admit that these two large northern English counties seem to have produced more first-class cricketers than others.

Lancastrians are descendants or supporters of John (of Gaunt) Duke of Lancaster, second son of Edward III, younger brother of Edward the Black Prince. The reason why Gaunt did not become King when the Black Prince died young is that the throne had by then been usurped by Hereford, becoming Henry IV. The usurper did away with Richard II, grandson of Edward III, but Gaunt was crafty enough to survive, and important enough to get himself into Shakespeare’s plays in a big way. The ‘This sceptr’d isle!’ soliloquoy is spoken by a dying John of Gaunt. (more…)

SPAIN: from black comedy to farce

     Not even the Monty Python team could have invented the present situation in the democracy with a monarchy, Parliament, and civilized population called Spain. The Marx Brothers might have shaken the head and said, “No-one would believe such a script, so fergettaboudit!” (more…)

Post-War poverty in Socialist Britain (1945 – 51)


Winter queues 1948 / telegraph.co.uk

Winter queues 1948 / telegraph.co.uk

It was a surrealist time to be British. Six years of total war had left the people with their men and womenfolk dead, wounded and crippled as well as bemedalled, heroic and stoic. Most people had lost their home (or homes) to the German bombing. France and Belgium, just over the narrow Channel, had been occupied throughout almost all the Second War, and were recovering much faster than the British. The latter, having listened avidly to the words of a fat old man with a fondness for brandy and cigars asking them to sacrifice everything to beat the German menace, and having followed his indefatigable leadership, showed their loyalty by throwing him and his party out in the 1945 elections. The new Prime Minister was Clement Attlee, an Old Harrovian, who had been Churchill’s Deputy PM during the war. He was one of those patricians who become members of the Labour Party, presumably to reward their parents for sacrificing everything to educate them privately. He was all for NATO, against private incomes and country life. (more…)

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