This is a fascinating introduction to the differences in pronunciation of Modern English and Early Modern English (Shakespeare’s time). Explanations and examples are very clear by linguist David Crystal and his son Ben, an actor.
has centre stage
as always, egotistical
to no end
handsome as a lover
heavy as a smoker
frequent to haunt joints
come keep him company
for loneliness is an eyesore
Consider this conversation:
Tom: This is my neighbour, David.
David: Hi. I’m his neighbour. Call me Dave.
Harry: Harry. Nice to meet you, Dave.
David is Tom’s neighbour from Tom’s perspective. So the focus of the conversation is with Tom. But in reality we tend to forget (or in Lakoff and Johnson’s term hide) the fact that Tom is also David’s neighbour.
Any piece of dialogue must assume a perspective. If it didn’t they would be difficult to understand. It must highlight some facts and hide others. Sometimes this highlighting and hiding is deliberate. Sometimes it is unavoidable.
Of course there is no egg in eggplant.
Apparently the name comes from a white egg-shaped variety cultivated by 18th century Europeans.
More interesting is the original name ‘aubergine’ which (according to Concise Oxford Dictionary) has its roots from Arabic and therefore the route (no pun intended, again) through which it made its way into Europe.
Here is the YouTube version of the great little podcast The History of English in Ten Minutes produced by Open University. As a matter of fact the history of English can be summarized in ten seconds with the chapter titles:
- The Norman Conquest
- The King James Bible
- The English of Science
- English and Empire
- The Age of the Dictionary
- American English
- Internet English
- Global English
Came across a new-ish theory today – Word Grammar. Its creator and champion is Richard (Dick) Hudson at UCL.
Seems worth exploring as a theory. Considered a minor branch of cognitive linguistics.
This is an old podcast about words produced by Radiolab. It features intereviews with Charles Fernyhough who about the relationship of words and spatial relationships, Susan Schaller who studied a man who literally had no words until the age of 27, Ann Senghas and Elizabeth Spelke who watched a language generate among deaf children, James Shapiro on Shakespeare and his gift to English of words like ‘unreal’ and phrases like ‘what’s done is done’ and ‘knock knock, who’s there’, and Jill Bolte Taylor whose stroke led her into insights about the nature of thinking and language.
Beware, it is an hour long but well worth the listen.