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Joe D.

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  1. Here's a nomination for 'persnickety,' someone who is very particular and demanding. I do, like an earlier poster, though, have a great fondness for 'kerfuffle' - perhaps because I have a penchant for getting into them from time to time.
  2. The English language can trace a huge number of its idioms back to two sources, the King James Bible and William Shakespeare. That is incredible when you seriously contemplate. Or is it? Are any other languages so heavily influenced in their idioms by one or two sources? Perhaps that is common. I don't really know. But I find it fascinating and would like to know. The best answers will probably come from native speakers of other languages, as they are so intimate both with the language and the culture from which it springs. Can some you native speakers of other languages enlighten me on this?
  3. I often use obscure or archaic words that I like the sound of. I told my nephew once in a golf match that I thought he was trying to 'hornswaggle' me. He asked what that meant. I told him it meant to cheat me. He said it was a silly word. I retorted that it was a great word that just did not get used nearly often enough and I was trying to change that. He laughed. Now, whenever he thinks someone is cheating, he accuses them of hornswaggling him. We do what we can to enrich and revitalize the language.
  4. Absolutely correct! When you get to digging, you find the great majority of great quotes and idioms in the English language come directly from either Shakespeare or the King James Bible or, when traced back, are originally derived from one of the two. Perhaps an even more interesting question would be if any other language is so heavily influenced by only two sources. Alas, I am merely asking the question. I don't know the answer to that, but it would be very interesting to know.
  5. I learn to read and write languages much quicker and easier than I learn to understand the spoken word. Even the Romance languages I do not speak, such as Italian and Portuguese, I can generally get a lot out of the written page. Some of the tenses, such as past perfect and conditional phrases, do not come naturally to me in any language but my native English. I have to think about them, though I understand them just fine when someone else says them properly. If we knew why we have such differences in comprehension, it would probably give a good cue as to how our individual minds work and process information.
  6. While I admire the effort and skill that had to go into creating a genuine fictional language, it seems utterly pointless to me, a form of mental masturbation. I have never even considered learning one (okay, other than pig-latin , which at least, others can play at, too). And honestly, I find it a little weird when others are fascinated by them.
  7. I have always been amused by the old aphorism, "the early bird gets the worm." It is used primarily to encourage initiative and industriousness in working on a project. But it has a rather large flaw. While the early bird does, indeed, get the worm, the early worm would have been well-advised to sleep in.
  8. I think you must master grammar before you can go effectively go off on sparkling riffs that are not limited by the rules of grammar. As editor of a group of newspapers, I once had a reporter working for me who was a marvelous technician. Her prose was without flaw - but it never sparkled, either. When she looked at something that was written in a striking way for effect, all she could see was that it was not grammatically correct. On the other hand, those who never bother to master grammar think they wrote more freely and spontaneously. The truth is they are usually just bad writers unwilling to first master the discipline that could later allow them to soar with control.
  9. I was surprised and inordinately pleased, the first time I went to Montreal, to find that most French speakers there thought I was from Paris rather than from the states. I was taught French originally by a Parisian - and initially absorbed the accent well. With the time I spent in Montreal, I actually found the Quebecois accent easier to understand than the Parisian. Alas, if I went back now I suspect the natives would think my accent to be 'soup kitchen.' I need some brushing up.
  10. "Cela est bien, mais il faut cultiver notre jardin." - Closing line from Voltaire's short story, 'Candide.' It is not only a great closing line, it is also great advice for life.
  11. "The only thing I hate worse than liars is skim milk - and skim milk is just water lying about being milk." - Ron Swanson from the TV show, 'Parks and Recreation.' "I can resist anything except temptation." - Oscar Wilde "Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx (though I swear I can hear it when many politicians talk) "No matter how cynical I get, it's hard to keep up." - Lily Tomlin
  12. Anything by James Patterson. I loved the movie, "Along Came a Spider" and then "Kiss the Girls." Operating on the assumption that the novel is always better and more nuanced than the movie, I read my first Patterson novel. It was HORRIBLE. It was rife with continuity problems, the really well developed characters were two-dimensional instead of just one dimensional. And Alex Cross, who commanded respect in the movies, was a weepy sentimentalist with all the emotional maturity of a randy 13-year-old boy in the novels. I figured it was just an off effort. I read fully 12 of his novels, one after the other, with mounting horror, unable to conceive how someone who was such a terrible writer could be so popular. I finally consoled myself that these were just comic books without pictures.
  13. I hate dubbing. When you know a particular speaker's voice and hear someone else's dubbed over it, that is very jarring, and often comical. I much prefer subtitles. I do not find them distracting. Often a movie, with the rhythm and flow of the language, very subtly sets a mood or a tone. Dubbing destroys it while subtitles are only a minimal distraction that does not detract from the flavor or mood of the moment. Besides, with some of the poor sound quality in even top films (particularly when the director feels he wants to create an 'artsy' moment), I like to have subtitles for even my native English.
  14. The rule still holds. Neither union nor unicorn begins with a true 'U' sound, which would be pronounced 'Oooo' or "Eww." Rather it begins with the 'Y' consonant sound, as in 'You.'
  15. Does anyone here regularly translate poetry from any language into English? It is, by far the toughest thing I know of. If you translate literally, you lose the rhythm, the mood...literally you lose the poetry. Yet if you make a genuinely poetic translation, you lose much of the literal sense of the original poem. It is why, though I am Catholic, I absolutely love the King James Version of the Bible. An accurate translation, it yet retains the poetry. It is a masterwork. Do any of you have any techniques you use to help achieve similarly marvelous results?
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