I SAW THIS SIGN on the subway:
The caption, which I wasn’t able to photograph in full, reads,
In 2050, the first spoken language in the world will be French
As an uncredentialled but 100% reliable brainologist, I point out that this sign does not say French will be the most-spoken language. But your brain processes it that way. And the creators of this sign, who are probably credentialed French brainologists, know this, and take advantage. I’m not saying this sign is lying. My point is much less bold and much less controversial than that …
Those French people are sneaky
AN EDITOR ASKED ME not long ago if I might change the word “died” to “passed away” in something I’d written of a late and mutual friend. I respectfully said No, and here’s why.
AT LEAST A FEW of you, dear readers, weren’t yet born thirty years ago when Frank Zappa and his daughter Moon Unit recorded “Valley Girl.” At that time I thought it was a clever piece of work, but that it must be an exaggeration, maybe even a fabrication, of San Fernando Valley speech. I’d never heard anyone talk that way in the small Canadian town where I grew up, and I expected I never would.
THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE is not unique in having a fluid, ever-changing character. Best described as a Low German dialect imbricated by Latin and Greek, via eleventh century Frenchified Norseman, English has changed a good amount since Geoffrey Chaucer wrote the following lines, somewhere about the year 1390:
Now, sire, and eft, sire, so bifel the cas,
That on a day this hende Nicholas
Fil with this yonge wyf to rage and pleye,
Whil that her housbonde was at Oseneye,
As clerkes ben ful subtile and ful queynte;
And prively he caughte hire by the queynte,
And seyde, “Ywis, but if ich have my wille,
For deerne love of thee, lemman, I spille.”