Monday, 31 August 2009

A pie I wish I had baked.

While I await the glorious convergence of linguistic inspiration and time to blog, I'd like to entertain you with someone else's work, Specifically, Tom Bliss, whom I heard on Radio 4 a few months ago. It's a recipe for Pie made entirely out of English and Welsh placenames and is loads of fun to read aloud, as my friend Hannah and I found, giggling over the laptop the other night. If the unbritish among you have trouble sounding it out, you can see and hear Bliss performing it . here
Disclaimer. I don't own this poem, or know Tom Bliss. This post is just random fandom.

Middle English and Welsh Pie
Takely: Appleby, Plumly, Cheriton, Pirton and Cantelop Melonby. Washington, Cutmill and Unstone. Ingoe Bole - and Masham.

Pickwell: Blewbury, Goosey Bury, Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Blackbourough, and Llanberis. Tipton Shellow Bowells and Churn.

Watchet Caerphilly. Wendy Mold.. Outwell. Wendy Sea Palling Wormington, or Crawley Bugthorpe, Kilham and Binham.

Findon Knutsford: Haselbech and Cheshunt. Cracoe Penn, and Chopwell.

Bowling; Honing, Runnymede and Melton Cadbury. Then Stourton, and Lickey End. Addingham Timble Salt, and St Just Pinchbeck Curry, then Pannal and Mixbury Evenly.

Makeworth Doughton: Floore, Buttercrambe and Egham (Henlade) - and Beetham. Alfold and Needham, then Rollright Thingwall, and Coverham Puddington.

Lightthorn Furness Chimney, and Burntwood Heaton Ovenden Cookham.

Bakeup, Bakewell - Butley Doynton Burnham! (Wrexham).

Wensbury Dunnington - Tickton, Tockwith Tring! Orpington Ovenden.. Greet! Monmouth Pyworthy Over Kingston - for Mumby, Tuesley, Wembly, Thursley, Fridaythorpe, Thatcham Deighton and Sunderland.

Aynho. At Tees Thame, Kettlesing. Earl Grays Once Brewed, Ham Sandwich in Towcester, Then Clothall Over Tably (Calder Vale), and Carrington Hoton Dishforth Over Tably.

Addingham Clotton Milcombe, and Roseberry Topping. At Lastingham.. (Tanton Tatterford) Reading! (Waitby.. There’s Morecombe)!

Fetcham Glasson, and Filton Brimton Beer (Beer - Maida Vale).

Collingham Hungerford Guist Over, Yelling “Combe Gedding.” Askham Richard, Askham Bryan - Pattishall Wantage, and Sittingborne Downham.

Sevinton Pyon Plaitford. Devizes, and Passenham Roundhay!

Biggin Hill Eton. Wilden Tasely Darliston! Tewin and Swallow, Butley Noke Burpham or Belchford (or Trumpington)! Decorum Mattersey.

Fullford Tumby? Goodleigh. If Tirely, then to Charing Cross, and Knapwell. (Little Snoring).

Remenham: Mabe Burthouse, or to Much Hadham, or Nuneaton (Nuneaton? Shirley Nottingham!), Donyatt Sling in Minskip - Tinwell, and Selling... Onnelley Tebay!

Unthank. Blisworth Clapham?

Tom Bliss (2008?)

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

the HELL?

All the blogs on my reading list have been deleted? how could this happen? Grrr.
I am following nobody. In most scenarios that sentence would be a good thing. Not now, though.

Ich bin ein Berliner?

My head is still stuck in a 'I wonder what that is in German' place at the moment. It's actually good from a wordgeekiness point of view because it makes me analyse what I say in English more.

While in Germany I had a conversation with a lovely woman called Kate from Australia about the benefits of being 'adjectivised' (I let this blatant example of verbing pass, because she made a good point.) being adjectivised is a good thing. It means to be described with, you know, describing words. As I have mentioned previously, we do not talk about 'queers(n)', but we can talk about 'the queer(adj) community'. Similarly, Kate prefers to be called lesbian, not A lesbian. atheist, not AN atheist.
It's fair enough, especially if one's identity is tied up with words that have been - or are - used in a derogatory fashion. Using nouns to describe someone, apart from breaking pretty basic, primary school literacy rules, is less that one step away from name-calling.
With this in mind, I started feeling uncomfortable listening to the German spoken around me. Germans (oops, German people! Is that a WW2 leftover? We don't talk about Frenches, 'Spaniard' rather than 'Spanish person' is derogatory, but The Germans is... fine?) talk about 'Schwulen and Lesben', literally 'gays and lesbians'. They refer to the Turkish community as 'die Turken' - the Turks. It just makes my skin crawl a little bit. Even though it was clear that this did not carry the dodgy connotations this would have in England.

But then something else occurred to me.
You would talk about lesbians, for example, but you would never say 'sie ist eine Lesbe' - 'she is a lesbian'. You would say 'sie ist Lesbe' - 'she is lesbian'. The word taking on a sort of 'nounjective' quality (think 'I am woman, hear me roar'). You could say 'sie ist lesbisch', making the adjectivisation complete. But this, I think, would be less, not more respectful.

This of course (wild tangent alert!) is where JFK went wrong in Berlin.

By saying 'Ich bin EIN Berliner' he removed his humanity. The indefinite article made it clear to the Germans that an inanimate object was being discussed. unfortunately for Kennedy, the inanimate object which is a synonym for 'citizen of Berlin' is 'iced doughnut'. Hence much sniggering ever after.

But you can see why he did it.

Because in the USA, if you think about it, the opposite is true. In England too, for that matter.

If you say 'I'm American' or 'I'm English'. It's a statement of fact. Whatever.
But 'I'm AN American', 'I'm AN Englishwoman'. Aha! Suddenly we're talking nationalism, civic pride; indeed, faintly racist territory. But in Kennedy's case, he was just trying to show his own pride at being associated with Berlin, and tried to apply an American nuance to the German language.

Which is a warning to us all: Try to be nationalistic in an unfamiliar language, and you might end up a doughnut.

Ich bin ein Word Geek.