February was mild and Nature got a bit ahead of herself.
The English countryside is now bright with blossom: in the trees, in the hedgerows and underfoot; walking across the park you have to take care not to tread on violets, primroses and celandines.
Continue reading “spring snowfall”
Some time ago I read one of those ‘motivational quotes’ to the effect that you shouldn’t laugh at someone who pronounces a word wrongly, as the chances are it means they learned it through reading, rather than hearing it spoken, and no one should be mocked for trying to better themselves.
It’s true that I am still likely to laugh when I hear an American say someone made a “fox paw” when they mean a faux pas but, essentially, I think there is a lot of truth in the sentiment.
Continue reading “worrying about stress”
Years ago, before every house had a computer and every child a smartphone, a friend told me he would have none of this modern technology because keeping icons on his desktop smacked of Papism and idolatry.
He may well still have the same objection, but, with so much information intended for an international audience, it’s frequently more efficient to use pictures than words, and communication using symbols and pictograms has become ubiquitous.
Continue reading “please give up your seat”
It’s nearly thirty years since Douglas Adams wrote Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and introduced the Electric Monk to the world:
The Electric Monk was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Monks believed things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of believing all the things the world expected you to believe.
I remember reading that and feeling a kind of recognition.
Continue reading “background conversation”
Undecided what to post today, I had a quick look on twitter, only to find that it is International Translation Day.
It’s actually been quite a while since I did any translation and nothing came to mind immediately as suitable for posting. But I remembered a long time ago using Google Translate to find inspiration for creativity and thought I’d have a dabble and see what happens.
Continue reading “a green scream”
Yesterday I talked about choosing what to read at a Live Lit event. There are hundreds of pieces of writing to choose from in my files, and such decisions are made even more difficult by the fact that some pieces exist in several different forms.
Not only is there an almost infinite chain of drafts and re-drafts preserved from the writing process – and all too often not properly labelled, so I end up wondering which is meant to be the final version; there are also versions resulting from adjustments made to what I thought was a polished piece, when I need to cut a few lines or words so it complies with competition rules, or adjust the length to suit the time allotted for a reading slot. And, as I showed with yesterday’s fairy tale, the same idea may occasionally be shaped into different final forms such as a short story and a poem.
At times, then, even when an open mike event has a specific theme, the options are numerous and decisions are difficult. Which is probably why my attention was caught by the sign in supermarket the other day.
After giving it some though, I reckon a world “free from choice” might be simpler, but I don’t think I’d like it very much.
I mentioned recently that I sometimes need to ‘top up’ my supply of words by reading voraciously just about anything I can get my hands on. It doesn’t have to be anything of any great literary value; indeed, I think what I’m really looking for is not so much words as such, it’s colloquial and fluent usage and phrasing that can perhaps be repurposed so that not all the clients I work for in a particular sector end up with the same wording on their websites and marketing collateral.
Since then, I’ve been wondering generally about vocabulary knowledge and learning: how many words do we know? Do adults continue to learn new words and, if so, how many?
Continue reading “words and birds”