(From my m-b-s autobiography Life and Soul – cheapest at Amazon.) I call it surge.   I first experienced it by proxy watching Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthew, as healer, moralist, and possible avatar, Jesus of Nazareth, starts on his mission of performing miracles and rounding up apostles.   It also appears, in a wonderful […]
How Do Languages Evolve? (3 of 3)

INFORMALITY So far we’ve looked at military and cultural conquest, and efficiency.   But despite its global spread the English Language is notoriously inefficient.   Imagine the ordeal of a foreign student learning English and bumping into bough cough through thought though rough …. Practise/practice, license/licence, prophesy/prophecy etc etc ad nauseam. But one development in usage that […]
The Evolution of Language

In the summer of 1971 I was standing at the bar of the Omonia Hotel in Athens sipping chilled lager and chatting with George, the barman, with his sad eyes and droopy Greek moustache.   He was a generation older than me and he reminisced about the dreadful times of the Nazi occupation.   We were getting […]
How do languages evolve

The Dream of the Rood, in part at least, dates from the 8th century.  It’s in Anglo-Saxon, usually called Old English. It’s a monologue by a tree dreaming of providing the cross on which Jesus was crucified.   Here’s the first line: Hwaet, ic swefna cyst secgan wylle … = Lo, dream best to tell …  […]
From Copernicus to 2012

The Polish astronomer Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543) wrote ‘On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres’ published in 1543. It met a hostile reception because, for the first time, it proposed that the Sun was at the centre of our universe – the heliocentric theory –rather than the Earth – the geocentric theory. Galileo (1564-1642) used evidence […]
Chief Seattle’s Speech

An address given in January, 1854.   It is believed to be the response of a Duwamish or Suquamish chieftain to white imperialism and the monetary offers from the President of the United States. How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land?   The idea is strange to us.   If we do […]
Reasons to be Cheerful

Once upon a time a young lad was out riding his pony deep in the Scottish countryside and, when they came to a lowish wall, the pony baulked and the rider flew out of the saddle and landed in an awkward heap on the other side of the wall.  When he tried to get up, […]