Monthly Archives: February 2020

Mark Twain on the French Language

Mark Twain traveled widely, both for pleasure and exploration and for delivering humorous speeches to welcoming audiences. Here is his take on French, both the people and their language.

“In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French. I never did succeed in making those idiots understand  their own language.”

 

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More Remarkable Names of Real People

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The Rosetta Stone, in the British Museum, which allowed the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphics

 

From a book of remarkable names, compiled by John Train:

Cardinal Sin, of Manila   He was in the news not too long ago.

Reverend Christian Church of Florence, Italy, active in the recovery efforts after the devastating flood of 1966.

Cigar Stubbs, listed in the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics

Mrs. Belcher Wack Wack  Ms. Belcher married Mr.Wack and then married his brother

Silence Bellows, an editor at the Christian Science Monitor

and finally, Rosetta Stone, of New York City. I feel lucky because my unmarried name was Stone, and I could have ended up as another Rosetta.

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Mark Twain on Religion

Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, is one of my favorite authors. I particularly appreciate his cynicism. This quotation is from The Lowest Animal:

Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion—several of them.

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Mark Twain on Telling Lies

From Pudd’nhead Wilson:

“One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”

Some politicians should think about this.

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A Word That Should Be Revived: Snollygoster

From Merriam-Webster:  Snollygoster, “a shrewd & unprincipled person, especially an unprincipled politician.” Just added it back. merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/ twitter.com/lowfatevil/sta

They had taken it out of the dictionary because it was rarely used any more, but as soon as Trump was elected, use of the word surged and M-W put it back in.

I came across snollygoster on a list of outdated words and immediately wanted to apply it to 99% of the Republican politicians in America today. There’s one in particular who stands far above the rest (or is it that he slinks far below the rest?), and I am running out of pejoratives to hurl at the television when  I see or hear him. For me, for this week at least, he will be the Snollygoster-in-Chief.

 

 

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A “Word” From Nikki Haley’s Advisor

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© Judi Birnberg 2020

I put “word” in quotation marks because I was struck by how unwordlike Ms. Haley’s advisor’s “word” was. See if you can spot it:

“She wants to stay out of politics for the next several years and make some money while maintaining optionality for ’24.”

I knew you’d spot it. It wasn’t difficult, was it? “Optionality.” I suppose it could be a word, but why bother? Why not say that she wants to maintain her options for ’24? Does “optionality” convey any information that “options” doesn’t?

Keep it simple. If a good word already exists, don’t try to impress your audience with a bunch of extra la-de-dah syllables that add nothing.

 

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