I’m sitting in the conservatory and the rain is tapping lightly on the roof. I like to listen to the rain; it helps me to think and it forms a nice white noise background to reading. The Ficus Benjamina – Weeping Fig as it’s more commonly known – towers above me and will soon curl around the ceiling fan if left alone. It’s grown so quickly over the past two years that it’s become more tree than bush. We’ve put some fairy lights around the top which gives the room a magical quality after dark.
Beside my chair is a Jade Plant we’ve had for some years. It’s large, roughly spherical in shape and the plump leaves shine even in the half light. If I move my head to the left I can just see the blurred reflections from the twinkling fairy lights in the branches above.
If I lean to the right I can reach another plant. I’ve just rubbed my fingers on the rough, papery leaves of the what we erroneously call the Lemon Balm and the fragrance quickly fills the room and wafts all over the house. It’s actually a Pelargonium or Geranium.
Slightly further along the wall there’s a variegated weeping fig that was an International Women’s Day gift to my partner.
I didn’t know until recently that it was the done thing in many parts of the world to give women presents on this day. It’s a practice I’m planning to promote in this so-called country of England.
I can hear the fan whirring on my computer down below the keyboard and the rain is getting heavier behind me. The wind has picked up. I was out earlier and the breeze had a nasty sharpness to it so I guessed it was from the North. It’s supposedly a British obsession – talking about the weather – but I suppose people must do it pretty much everywhere.
We’re going to Gloucester tomorrow. Parts of the town date back to the Medieval Period and if the weather isn’t too bad I’ll post some pictures.
Good night friends, wherever you are – I hope the weather is to your liking and you are happy and healthy.
SPELLCHECKER OR LANGUAGE WRECKER?
I really love blogging as I greatly enjoy both communicating my ideas with others and hearing what they’ve got to say. As bloggers will all be aware, WordPress has an onboard Spellchecker that lets the writer know if they make mistakes when authoring their posts.
Now I’m writing this in MS Word and will copy the text across to my blog New Post window. When I write the posts directly in WordPress I’ve noticed a common and regular issue with spellings that the Spellchecker flags up as incorrect. I’m talking about the difference between American and British English.
So when I write words such as ‘theatre’, ‘centre’, ‘harbour’, or a whole group of words that end ‘-ise’ the spellchecker underlines the words as incorrect. The checker likes ‘–ize’ rather than ‘-ise’ and the US versions of many common words. I’m sure British English writers can think of more examples.
Now although an English graduate and postgraduate and sometime teacher of language and literature, I’m not one of those that believes in a fixed, static language and do not worry if folk subvert or evolve what is sometimes anachronistically known as the Queen’s English. But I don’t know if I want to give up all my English English spellings simply because of a spellchecker.
I know some other British bloggers feel strongly about this as our language is very much part of our identity and it can feel like an attack on our history and culture when a dumb spellchecker says it is wrong.
Sometimes it’s nice to show my geographical background by the way I write and spell certain words, although I don’t know how readers respond to this, be they Americans, Canadians, Australians, Europeans or Asians. And English is the second language for most people, so this is something that affects most of the world in one way or another.
So my questions to readers are these;
- Should we just give up on British spellings as old-fashioned and obsolete and adopt US versions en masse?
- Should we continue with traditional spellings and try to keep them current, even though it’s fairly obvious US versions will one day become dominant and ubiquitous?
- Should we use English forms when writing to British folks and use US variants when writing for an international or mainly US audience?
- Not bother either way and just do what feels right in an ad hoc manner?
- Something else?
I’d like to hear what others think, wherever you live and whatever version of English you usually use.
Recently people keep talking about this or that politician, or they say let’s petition parliament or the president. But these are the bastards that are oppressing us – we don’t need governing – that’s what kings, dictators and emperors have done for thousands of years. Governments are just the same – they are a way of managing the people – they’re not for us!
We don’t need hierarchies so I’ve invented the word LOWERARCHY
If we are all the same let’s act like it – don’t give your power to leaders – they’re part of the problem not the solution.
This morning, I would like to quote from perhaps the best satire written in the English language – namely Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Most people are aware of only some parts of the first part of the first voyage in which Gulliver finds himself in Lilliput. Here the inhabitants grow to no more than 6 inches high and the hero of the novel is considered to be a giant. However, there are many other voyages covered in the book but these are normally left out of popular versions of the story because they are considered unfit for children due to their often crude subject matter and highly satirical nature.
As a student of literature I can recommend this as one of the top novels ever written.
My point here is to tell you about a short passage in the book where Swift, in an allusion to the reference in the 10 Biblical Commandments to ‘honour thy father and mother’, says the following:
“The Lilliputians … will never allow that a child is under any obligation to his father for begetting him, or to her mother for bringing her into the world; which, considering the miseries of human life, was neither a benefit in itself, nor intended so by his parents, whose thoughts in their love-encounters were otherwise employed. Upon these and the like reasonings, their opinion is that parents are the last of all others to be trusted with the education of their own children…”
After Gulliver escapes from Lilliput he arrives at the Kingdom of Brobdingnab where he is only 6 inches tall and the native inhabitants are giants. After many escapades he becomes friendly with the King and many brilliant discussions take place which allows the author to poke fun at our society and our warlike nature. The King of Brobdingnab is appalled to hear of the lies and machinations of our political classes, our evil military inventions and downright cruelty to one another and comments:
In subsequent voyages Gulliver meets a wide range of weird and wonderful people and in the final chapter makes the acquaintance of a race of rational horses who live side by side with a race of horrible, filthy animals called Yahoos. Of course, we are the Yahoos and the internet company of the same name is named after this literary invention.