The advent of Glosso’s advent calendar …

Back by popular demand, Glosso’s shiny advent calendar will be running again this year, starting (of course) on Wednesday, Dec 1. Check in for your “Baubles of Britishisms,” which run daily through our most British of named holidays, “Boxing Day.” (And if you don’t know what day that is, then just keep opening your bauble windows, and you’ll find out soon enough.)

There might be another surprise buried among the baubles: we’ll keep you posted.

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A book review on Book Lovers Day

On Book Lovers Day, Glossophilia is drawing your attention to a very funny (and beautifully written) review of a couple of books that have recently hit the headlines, mainly thanks to the stellar PR work of the publishers involved, and not because of any runaway literary success on the part of either of the duchess-authoresses. The review is worthy not just because of its witty characterizations of the books and their respective creators, but also because of its historical romp through the right royal writing adventures of Kings and Queens past. Enjoy Andrew O’Hagan’s review of The Bench and Her Heart for a Compass – neither of whose authors needs any introduction – in the London Review of Books, August 12 edition.

For Glossophiles wanting to go a bit further down The Bench rabbit-hole, with some more specific and exquisite analysis of the Duchess of Sussex’s rhyming clangers (Andrew O’Hagan in his review noted her instinct for posterity, but the same can’t necessarily be said for her poetry), read the New York Times‘s review of the bestseller, from which here’s a Glossophiliac excerpt:

There is no excuse, in a book of fewer than 200 words, for every syllable not to be just right. Even a tiny discordant note can throw the whole thing into disarray. This is even more true with rhyming books. Force-feeding words into unlikely configurations to eke out a tortured rhyme works about as well as stuffing a foot into a too-small glass slipper and passing it off as a perfect fit. “You’ll love him. / You’ll listen. / You’ll be his supporter. / When life feels in shambles / You’ll help him find order,” Meghan writes. Not terrible, but not terrific. What she does in the last line of the book, though — contracting “alone” into “’lone” in order to get it to rhyme with “home” — should be illegal.

Book Lovers Day is celebrated on August 9 every year. This unofficial holiday encourages bibliophiles around the world to celebrate reading and literature. Put away your smartphones, ditch social media for a day, and pick up a good book – written by a duchess or not.

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Famous songs native to or translated into other languages

Can you guess which chart-topping song eventually enjoyed a popular French incarnation as “Bravo tu as gagné?” Or which famous songs started their commercial lives in French as “Le Moribond” and “Commes d’Habitudes” respectively? Do you know which two songs The Beatles decided to record and release in German? Read more about how these and other hit songs came to enjoy lives in multiple lingos …

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“Words with Partners” Part lll: Triplets

An encore of Glosso’s short series of posts about “words with partners,” first published in March 2019, continues with a look at linguistic triplets. 

They’re basically a triple-take on the Siamese twins discussed last week with the same identifying characteristics, i.e. three nouns, verbs or adjectives joined by and or or, and an immovable word order (“tears, sweat and blood” just doesn’t quite cut it). You’ll also see the comma splice in action here; you’ll know it when you see it.  This “linguistic trinomial” (which I prefer to think of as a wordy ménage à trois) is a very good example of the powerful “rule of three” in speech and writing, which was covered in an earlier Glosso post, “Celebrating the rule of three.”  Can you think of any more? Continue reading

Words with Partners, Part ll: “Conjoined words” (or “irreversible binomials,” if we want to be more formal 🤓🤔)

Glosso is reposting a popular mini-series about “words with partners”.

The second* post of Glossophilia’s short series on “words with partners” looks at “conjoined words.” (When this post was first published just a few years ago the term commonly used was “Siamese twins”, but for hopefully obvious reasons this name has fallen out of favor.) In more formal linguistic terms we’re talking about “irreversible binomials”. Yeah, that sounds stuffy and boring, but these little binomials – of whom Tom and Jerry are a famous example – are fun when you get to know and understand them. 

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Words with Partners Part l: I can’t live, if living is without you (a noun)…

Reposting a popular mini-series about “words with partners.”

Today Glossophilia kicks off the first in a short series of posts about what we’re going to call “words with partners.” We’ll start by looking at words that are sometimes called “fossils” (although we think that’s something of a misnomer). These sad words are lost without their partners — i.e. they never seem to leave the house without their significant others.  Continue reading