Tag Archive | Language

And now for something slightly different..

footThere’s so much heavy, disheartening and tragic news around, thought I’d lighten the load for a while.

For anyone fed up to their back teeth with either flippant/kinky, or boring romances/gory, twenty-toed monster killings or utter nonsense all depending on your particular taste of course – here are a few books which promise (dib dib dib) to, at the very least, offer something unusual/bizarre/original to titillate the jaded reader’s palate. (The fact that they could be a load of old codswallop is neither here nor there.)

Forget the proverbial ‘Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman’. ‘LAGOON’ by Nnedi Okanafor presents a rapper, a biologist and a rogue soldier, who walk into a bar…

SLAPSTICK, OR LONESOME NO MORE’ by Kurt Vonnegut. Apparently, it’s about the last President of the USA… (Written in 1976, but could be quite topical!)

THE PASSION’ by Jeanette Winterson –Napoleon! Venice! More web –footed people! And a woman who is trying to retrieve her heart from a locked box…

THE BEAR COMES HOME’ by Rafi Zabor – The protagonist is a walking, talking, saxophone-playing bear. What more could you ask for?

***

I imagine, if you’re a reader/writer, you are as fascinated by people as I am. Here are a few facts about some of our more famous ‘Pensmiths’.

CHARLES DICKENS was a stickler for order and routine and wrote most days from 9 am until 2 pm. He always slept facing north as he believed it better aligned him to the electrical currents of the earth. Despite no formal education, he wrote 15 novels, 5 novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction; lectured and performed: all before he was 48 years old, when he tragically died of a stroke.

HARUKI MURAKAMI is working by 4 am – five or six hours – he then runs for ten kilometres and/or both swims 100 metres. Later, he reads, listens to music and is in bed by 9.00 pm. He says the discipline helps him reach a deeper state of mind.

JODI PICOULT says: ‘You can’t edit a blank page,’ so obviously gets on with it. She never suffers from writers’ block.

KURT VONNEGUT worked from 5.30 until 8.00, then again later. He swam, had ‘several belts of scotch and water,’ and did push-ups and sit-ups in between writing. (It must have helped, he lived to a respectable age of 84).

ERNEST HEMINGWAY wrote every morning, as soon as it was light, ‘Cool and quiet.’

HENRY MILLER advised not to work on more than one thing at a time; ‘to mix work with pleasure, go out and meet people and don’t be a draughthorse.’ He also said you should ‘not be nervous, work calmly, joyously and recklessly.’ And last, but ‘that cliché’…’

MAYA ANGELOU, poet and author, found the comfort of home too distracting, so rented a small, mean room in a hotel for months at a time, taking only her writing materials, a Bible, a bottle of sherry and a pack of cards. She had a calloused elbow from leaning on one side of her bed to write!

So, there you have it, for now. Just a few odds and ends for you to ponder.

 

© Copyright Joy Lennick 2017

 

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The Phrontistery revisited

Phrontistery – “a thinking place, from ‘phroneein’ to think.”

Now and then, you hear of writers’ “drying up” or “burning out,” but, for one reason or another, the older I get, the more ideas arrive…Take this morning – at the early hour of 5.15, damn… there was a wide awake queue of “subjects” (animated like an excitable group of Star Trek conference devotees) suggesting a variety of, mostly, serious topics. Keen to write something in a lighter vein, with maybe a humorous slant, I patiently listened to my babbling muses, but had to refuse their, more serious, offerings. So, what to write? Sometimes, too many ideas are worse than none! They can overwhelm and leave you confused.

The very name of “Trump” (can one word/person be a cliche?) and connections left me cold; “Literary Advice” sounded like preaching – how many more tips can one suggest without boring the pants off people? Eventually, I decided to visit “The Phrontistery.” Again. For newcomers to my – lately – rare posts, The Phrontistery is a haven for words which I enjoy visiting now and then.

A Facebook friend by the name of Aurora mentioned the word CODDICOMPLE :”To travel purposefully toward an.- as yet – unknown destination,” so was quite apt for the occasion, and led me to visit the above virtual learned ‘establishment.’ (Thanks Aurora!) If you enjoy words, it’s always fun.

Quite a few intrigued…AMORETTO: “A cherub or spirit of love” (thought it came in a bottle?!), ABBOZZO: “A preliminary sketch,” Really! ABRA: “A narrow mountain pass.”” (Not to be confused with ”A Bra”: (A feminine undergarment.). The decidedly odd ACERSECOMIC: “One whose hair has never been cut!” AFTERWIL: “Locking the barn after the cows have been let out…”.(always thought it was a horse) .And, my favourite for now: ALLEMAIN: “An enormous pudding, out of which acrobats leap!” So graphic and sounds such fun! Surely, a perfect prop for the amazing Cirque du Soleil.

As expected from such a comprehensive list of words, many are archaic: more at home in a Dickensian story: Words like BANTLING: “Brat, whelp, bastard child,” BASTINADE: “To beat with stick or baton, ESPECIALLY ON THE FEET?!” Then there’s DEBLUBBERED: “Disfigured from weeping.” BICACIOUS: “Fond of drinking,” (timeless!), and last, for now, BLETHERSKATE: “Garrulous talker of nonsense.” The latter group is perfect for including in a Victorian who-dunnit! Ummm, I have an idea…

 

© Joy Lennick 2017

THIS AND THAT…

trapeze_med

As this post is a slight departure from the norm… I’d like to put strangers to my occasional ramblings in the picture, lest they send ‘the men in white coats’ to my door. Eldest son, Jason, is a blogger (among other things) and I have written the following in reply to his recent out-pouring of nonsense.

Who would have believed it, after all the years of shady shenanigans; coded glances and messages secreted in ancient lavatory cisterns, the truth was revealed by our eldest son to the unwitting world.

It is true, we ran a modest hotel in Bournemouth, before being pursued and approached by the Cirque du Soleil (not the Circus con Leche as stated by Jason). Seduced by our reputation – for ‘‘im indoors and yours truly were renowned for our prowess on the trapeze (despite the gathering years, and not known by many people) – the troupe were planning to ‘star’ us in a dazzling Spectacular, which would astound the public. While middle-aged, what we couldn’t do with our amazingly virile, versatile and talented forms, wasn’t worth talking about. Our stage names were Kermit and Dolly Rodriquez. Tragically, the spectacle was cancelled after Kermit developed a large corn on his big, right toe, and ‘delayed acne’ at the same time as my varicose veins became too prominent.

It was more than our lives were worth to comment further about the man with the withered hand. Then Jason suggested plastic surgery would be ‘rejuvenating,’ (and otherwise advantageous) and our planned retirement to sunny Spain fitted neatly in with the circumstances. It also meant that our other two sons wouldn’t be able to find us, thereby paving the way for our eldest son to inherit our vast estates and the oil-fields in Texas when we popped our clogs. We were astounded by his dastardly plan.

Quite a few Menu del dias and Café con leches later…

It is with huge relief that we have learned of a few, pertinent, arrests in the UK by MI5. This is most fortunate in that we were looking over our shoulders so frequently, we kept bumping into lamp-posts. We are also delighted to discover the truth about our eldest son. He arranged the plastic surgery to save our lives, which were in imminent danger at the time, and due to his magnanimous nature and a windfall from a grateful, former client (Jason was a ‘Professional Carer’ at one time, and not as he claims a Ninja assassin), he’s totally disinterested in our alleged fortune. Another massive bonus, we have been reunited with our other two sons, and so folks, as the sun sets in the Western, technicoloured sky, we are able to paddle in the Med. again with carefree hearts and be a united family..

And now for something completely different..

Three of us flying Lennicks are planning to publish a book of humorous poems, anecdotes, jokes and fifty word stories in the near future. So, do look out for The Moon is Wearing a Tutu. By Joy, Eric and Jason Lennick.

Available now for your reading pleasure – Food Glorious Food – a ten-story anthology, penned by various writers: members of WordPlay Forum. Published by Quirky Girl Publishing. A must for any occasion: beach or curled up in an armchair.

Keep an eye open (or two) for our up and coming anthology: Des Res. Another treat from WordPlay writers and the able Quirky Girl Publishing stable. (Both available from Amazon,
Kindle and CreateSpace..)

Coming soon: a brand, spanking new version of My Gentle War, a memoir written by yours truly. (No. 1 on Kindle in Memoir/Social History category.)

Words, words, words

In Act 2, scene 2 of Hamlet, Polonius asks Hamlet:
‘What do you read, my Lord?’ and he replies,
‘Words, words, words.’ And then Polonius asks,
‘What is the matter, my Lord?’ And Hamlet says,
‘Between who?’

For some reason, (Hamlet was part of the course-work of my ‘A’ Lit exam, which I took at the age of 66…) the above stuck in my head. It emphasized just how language can be manipulated to be ambiguous or otherwise. It is to the point, simple and concise. Studying Shakespeare, more specifically ‘Hamlet,’ opened my half-closed eyes to the full magic and surprises that await those who study language in more depth. Of course, University students would be appalled at my ‘late learning,’ but I use the ‘better late than never’ cliché unashamedly. World War II, ‘business’ and mothering three sons came first!

Although I had already had two factual books published, I had never studied the art of using words and writing as deeply before then. And, whereas at college I had been exposed to Shakespeare, it didn’t ‘grab me’ in the same way as it did years later. I then devoured it as if it was the most seductive bar of dark chocolate ever manufactured! How I blessed the chance to catch up on at least some of my neglected education. Fortunately, my thirst for knowledge has never left me, and now I’m retired, it brings me great joy. If there are any readers who believe that so-called ‘old age’ (I’m a re-cycled, re-cycled teenager…) is a deterrent to learning, I beg them to think again.

There are approximately 1,025,109.8 words in the English dictionary, (as of 2nd January), so us writers are completely spoilt for choice. The teaser, of course, is – which words to choose! And I have read that 14 new words are created each day, so there is no excuse. It’s a fact though, that some words stick in the throat. I mean, what misguided scholar thought to define beautiful as pulchritude? Contrarily, what a deliciously descriptive word is curmudgeon (a bad-tempered or mean person), and don’t you just love the word pauciloquent (an utterer of few words: brief in speech). You won’t find many in Ireland that’s for sure. Another word I have just come across is the delightful bibble. (a Mr.Bean special): to drink often; drink or eat noisily. Definitely belongs in a Dickens tale. What about logorrhea: an excessive flow of words (more polite than choosing a literary diarrhoea). Although to write: Mr. Kimble’s senses were keen, especially his macrosmatic (good sense of smell) is a bit OTT unless you’re an English professor – or even a professor of English…And, for anyone familiar with the character Baldric in Black Adder – I’ve just discovered that baldric is a shoulder strap for holding a sword. How disappointing.

I have an admission to make here. I have been studying ‘The Phrontistery’ a ‘thinking place.’ Ignoramus that I am, I had never heard of it, but it is a fascinating place to be and to look up weird/unusual and prosaic words and their meanings. Take the unusual tittynope. Surely it can’t mean No more breast milk for you, sunshine! It doesn’t. It means a small quantity of something left over. Fun, eh!

‘Dig and ye shall find’ is my quest for 2016, and I didn’t even know until then that I had a new year resolution.…

 
Copyright Joy Lennick 2016 All rights reserved.
 

Etymology – the origin and meaning of words

BC: ‘Before soul-less computers,’ had – metaphorically speaking – usurped Jesus, I spent a fascinating afternoon in the public library, studying the derivative of names. As you do. Well, this one did….

Such surnames as Green, Fleur, and Farmer were easy peasy to interpret and trace, but more modern ones like Jelley, Gotobed, and Brokenbra (genuine, discovered in the local – Romford – telephone directory) were a tad more difficult to search out or comprehend, despite the blatant message their names implied. ‘Jelley’ was a wobbly one, ‘Gotobed’ pretty obvious, as was ‘Brokenbra,’ but mildly weird. However the coincidences of kinship between names and occupations was mind boggling. A Mr Heaven was a preacher, the Misses Rook and Crow worked for a Bird Protection Society and the surname Phibbs featured in a group of lawyers; the latter fact unbelievable. I spent so many hours riveted there, I was late to cook dinner and the family would have revolted (an old joke there about agricultural workers) had it not been for the cooking trilogy of garlic, onions and ginger, noodles and a wok. But, I digress. Nothing unusual.

My interest in words and their meanings grew and led to many lengthy library sessions – no Google then – which brings me neatly, if rather confusingly – to my present, unquenchable, quest for word derivative explanations. Take ‘GEEK’ for example. Oh that’s modern slang…you may well mutter. Wrong! I recently read it was another name for ‘A Court jester in the 13th (15th?) century.’ Or was it? Nowadays, it means ‘A socially inept person, unfashionable, eccentric and maybe devoted to a particular interest’ (like train spotters, being hooked on computer games, playing marbles after dark, or collecting used straws). Way back when, it meant ‘A circus side-show freak:’ a bearded woman or a person with three arms – a genius on the piano and adept picking pockets. Another oddball had the appalling habit of biting off live chickens’ heads. How foul was that! It was suggested by another source that Geeks were ‘intelligent,’ while a final departure of the meaning stated: ‘From an old German word geck – basically a stupid person.’ Confusion reigns.

The word ‘SWASTIKA’ now sits in the limelight, and if ever a word embodied all that is evil – after 1932, when Hitler decreed it represented ‘The struggle for the victory of the Aryan race,‘ – Swastika was it! And so, the very antithesis of its original meaning, it became the symbol of the Nazi party. Much preferred is the other derivative of Swastika. From Svastika in the Sanskrit language, it translates to ‘being fortunate, well being and good luck.’ It originated in the Indo-Aryan region, particularly around India and appears in Buddhism and Hinduism, encompassing eternity. To Hindus it represents the God Ganesha.

My third attempt at ferreting out word histories, falls on ‘BLATANT.’ Its modern meaning states: ‘Lacking in subtlety, very obvious.’ The old one: ‘A thousand-tongued beast from hell.’ (Hardly welcome as a dinner guest.) It was penned in the 1600’s, invented by Edmund Spencer in his fantasy story ‘The Faerie Queen’ (try as I might, while a devotee of ballet, thoughts of which the story evoked, I too often have visions of the Monty Python team hamming it up in tutus). The story was an allegory for 16th century English religion. Characters symbolized a person or ideal in the real world, such as Queen Liz the First. The ‘Blatant’ beast represented slander and wickedness, and became an insult to loud persons. Personally, I’d rather watch Coronation Street and I’m not a fan.

New Year Resolutions

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been very good at keeping New Year Resolutions…

The trouble is, when it comes to dieting, I don’t! Yes, I know that there are bits where they shouldn’t be and no bits where they should be, and I do have my pride – here comes the ‘But’… The problem of course is (yes you’ve guessed it) FOOD: show me roast chicken, creamy pasta, pastries and chocolate and my resolve is as weak as ditch water, although I don’t over-indulge. Ah me….I have no problem with giving up smoking, as I never have (ugh!) and – I must sound like a ‘goody-two-shoes’ – I‘ve never had a drink problem, though I admit to enjoying the odd G & T or cocktail. So, should I give up Men? (whoops, meant to say ‘man’). No, I don’t think so: I’ve got very used to him being around. He’s a bit of ‘alright,’ he’s funny (sometimes on purpose) doesn’t beat me and he COOKS! No, sorry he’s not for hire. Where does that leave my re resolutions then? Well, they might sound a bit pedestrian to a non-writer, but to me they are important. I resolve not to use the following words too many times: AND, BUT, GOT (Yuch), VERY, REALLY, LOVELY and HOWEVER, and avoid clichés whenever possible.

There are, apparently, 1,019,729.6 words in the English language (as at 1st January 2013) with new words being created every 98 minutes…so a huge variety to choose from and consider. Sadly, too many non-serious writers are getting lazier as time passes (what with texting and emails) but us professional writers should strive to use more. I don’t mean peppering your work with archaic or rarely used words which have readers reaching for their dictionaries, or ‘asking Google’, for such ‘over-writing’ can be dry and boring, but I for one intend increasing my vocabulary to, hopefully, make it ‘sing-zing’ more to me; make people shed a tear; laugh more; make them sit up and think…stir my soul, in the hope that it stirs others too. I hope I don’t live to ‘eat my words’… As for my hope for the world’s populace? Apart from peace, I would love to meet and hear of more free-thinkers and less sheep. What a more interesting and stimulating planet it would be!