round in circles

If you ask for advice about writing a presentation, one recommendation is likely to come up time and again:

Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
Tell them.
Tell them what you’ve told them.

This three-part cyclical format is far more likely to get your message through to your audience than a simple linear thread.

I’ve long been an advocate of the idea of poetry as “the art of patterning”, but the more I think about it, the more I see that patterns play a part in effective communication in general, not just poetry.
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word association

Memory is an odd thing. And linguistic memory is perhaps as odd as any.

I know I should remember the name of the flowers in the photo as I’ve grown plenty over the years, but every time I see them I have to sort through and reject a few other words that come to mind first.

They definitely aren’t coelacanths.

And I’m fairly sure they have nothing to do with Clytemnestra.
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biscuits and other ambiguities

coffee and ginger biscuits
When I’ve quoted Sandburg – “poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits” – in the past, I have always felt the biscuits were there to represent the everyday, functional side of life: I’ve always assumed he meant Rich Tea, not Hobnobs.

But apparently yesterday was National Biscuit Day, which set me thinking: as I am not really sure which nation was celebrating, I don’t know whether the biscuits in question are the ones you eat with morning coffee or with gravy. And even if it were definitely a British celebration, they might be cheesy biscuits rather than gingersnaps.

Now I am wondering whether Sandberg was thinking of American biscuits – the plain scones eaten with thick sausage gravy – with all the social and regional connotations that they bring to bear. Suddenly hyacinths have become the clear and unambiguous aspect of the quote: a natural Truth alongside the unnecessarily complex human view of things.
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lost in translation

Sadly, the utter magnificence and glory of this rhododendron has been lost in my attempt to translate it into a photograph.

pink rhododendron
I, too, am – or should be – lost in translation, as I have a deadline approaching at a worrying rate of knots.

discussing whether

 snow on bare tree branches
When I’m in Spain I can go for weeks without watching or reading a weather forecast: que será, será and we’ll deal with it when it happens. In the UK, though, weather is a sort of national pastime, and I’ve known whole days planned around which TV channel is showing the weather forecast and at what time.
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dictionary delight

When I visit my elderly mother we usually spend the evening with the newspaper puzzle page. (A single crossword can distract from many cross words.) It’s the cryptic crossword that we enjoy most and, between us, we often complete it. Yesterday, we attempted the one from the i newspaper, abandoning it with some half dozen clues unanswered.

reference books
The crossword always seems easier the next day – I suspect it’s telepathic communication with all those readers who’ve checked their answers early on! – so we had another look this morning and finally had it completed all but one clue.

The clue was “A free broadcaster?” and the letters we had were:
A _ N _ I _
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contradictionary

In a story on 20 Minutos, the on-line version of one of Spain’s free newspapers, The Secretary of the Real Academia Española, Darío Villanueva is quoted as having said:

“El Diccionario no puede ser políticamente correcto porque la lengua sirve para amar, pero también para insultar. No podemos suprimir las palabras que usamos cuando nos enfadamos o cuando somos injustos, arbitrarios o canallas.” *

I find this odd, as I thought the whole point of the RAE was prescription not description.
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