Endearing peculiarities of the English language #31:
He’s quite mad.
A simple declarative statement of three words which can mean two completely and importantly different things:
- He is completely mad
- He is a little bit mad
Odd that a word should lose its fundamental function in such a way – the function of ‘quite’ being to modify, to provide more information about; whereas in this instance it actively creates ambiguity.
Time was, I groaned at the sight of an erroneous it’s, but it’s so commonplace now the fun’s gone out of it. The barbarians have long since stormed the citadel; ignorance has won the day. Indeed, there’s hardly anyone left who knows their its from their it’s or their your from their you’re, never mind their their from their there from their they’re.
With the morris dancing scuppered by the storm, I did what any rational human would do – hunkered down with old b/w movies on the telly – specifically, 1940’s Pride & Prejudice, with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson.
I’m always interested by what you might call meta-messaging – the implicit messages that can be discerned beneath the ostensibles, if you’re that way minded. Films made during the war often make interesting examples. I was struck by the exchange between Elizabeth Bennet and Miss Bingley – a crashing snob, who serves only to flag up our heroine’s essential decency:
Miss Bingley: But there….what can you expect of one of his low descent?
Elizabeth Bennet: I will tell you exactly what I expect: kindness, honour, generosity, truthfulness. And I might add that I expect exactly the same from persons of high descent.
No such exchange can be found in the original, and you can’t help wondering whether Aldous Huxley, in writing the script, saw an opportunity to remind American movie-goers of the fundamental values at stake on the other side of the pond.
Took my recent Sebastião kick into town yesterday…
God & iron – on these was an empire forged.
Blade Runnerland, AKA the Jubilee Line.
“People goin’ down to the ground, buildin’s goin’ up to the sky…”
Love the side of this delivery lorry – must have been fun putting that together! (The cauliflower clouds are particularly excellent!)
Hats off to Bidfood, whoever they are.
Inspired by recently browsing a book of Sebastião Salgado’s photos that I haven’t looked at in years, I put my phone on b/w for a field trip down to Henley…
Have to love a recipe that lists one of its ingredients as ‘2-3 bottles red wine’…
Love the way they’ve granted Sitting an initial cap!
A bit of self-indulgence to lighten the Boxing Day thru’ New Years dog days – The Gay Divorce…(‘Divorcée’, if you prefer) – gave me my line of the season: Ginger to Fred after he’s blocked her in with his little MG, “Would you mind moving your car…or don’t you want it anymore?”
Cracking little movie, dating from the golden era when America’s best writers were all heading west to join the great Hollywood gold rush, and the script really reflects it. Turns out it was Fred’s second with Ginger, and one he agreed to reluctantly, both because he was set on becoming a solo dancer rather than one of a duo, and because he thought Rogers wasn’t classy enough for the role. Hard to believe when you see them dance together: a short-lived artform at its peak; we’ll never see its like again.
Out of nowhere, I was suddenly pinned in my chair by a rendition of ‘Wunderbar!’, a song I knew only from its appearance in Kenny Everett’s World’s Worst Records from the late ’70s. A song which, in its original, still has the power to reduce strong men to quivering wrecks….
Here’s to a wunderbar 2022, everyone!
Andrew Rawnsley recently, on the importance of clarity in political communication: “Blair was a maestro at distilling his mission into compelling slogans. “Education, education, education” and “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” left no one in doubt about what he was about. This is a non-trivial point. If you haven’t got the ideas and you can’t express them with a crispness and clarity that will cut through [italics mine] to voters, then you have no business being in modern politics.”
This is indeed a non-trivial point, and one that all communicators – in or outside politics – would do well to ponder.