Gleanings From The Past #50

Some Poem Extracts Children dear, was it yesterday We heard the sweet bells over the bay? In the caverns where we lay, Through the surf and through the swell, The far-off sound of a silver bell? Sand-strewn caverns, cool and deep, Where the winds are all asleep; Where the spent lights quiver and gleam, Where […]

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Not Lost In Translation: A Curious Language Anecdote

Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Nabokov, in his 1962 novel Pale Fire, related a remarkable, albeit probably apocryphal, Russian language anecdote. The story went that a newspaper which covered the coronation ceremony of a Tsar “accidentally” misprinted “корона” (korona) (crown) as “ворона” (vorona) (crow). The following day, the newspaper apologized for the error and promptly “corrected” it. However, the word […]

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The Economist’s Blunder

Geoffrey K. Pullum On March 20, 1997, linguist Geoffrey K. Pullum sent the following letter to The Economist in response to the article regarding the Russian oil pipeline problems the newspaper published a week prior: Sir: “Connections needed” (March 15) reports that Russia’s Transneft pipeline operator is not able to separate crude flows from different […]

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Dream Of A Spelling-Bee

During the latter part of the nineteenth century, Spelling Bee competitions became popular in England. Punch magazine had several prose and illustrations which referenced this fad. One of them is the following nonsense verse titled “Dream of a Spelling-Bee” which the magazine published on January 22, 1876, is worth noting: Menageries where sleuth-hounds caracole. Where jaguar phalanx […]

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Ambiguous Plurals

“Axes” is the plural of both ax and axis, and “bases” is the plural of both base and basis. Based on these observations, Willard Espy, in “A Plurality of Singular Verse”, Word Ways, Vol. 7, 1974, gave the following couple of short verses: Paul Bunyan swung his ax, with view To sundering the earth in […]

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A Riddle That Might Make You Angry

Here’s a trivia. There are only two “common” words which end in “-gry”: angry and hungry. The puzzler named “Nightowl” mentioned the old “-gry” words riddle in her Rochester, New York, newsletter The Ag Mine, Mar. 1997: A local newspaper columnist found the first logical explanation I have seen of that so-called riddle. The correct version of the riddle is […]

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A Monstrous Hoax (And Anagrams)

The Flipper Photo In 1972, Sir Peter Scott, a British naturalist and a member of Loch Ness Phenomena Investigation Bureau, partook on an expedition that produced the “Flipper Photo”. The photo was allegedly an evidence that prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. Scott was so convinced about it that he even suggested a scientific […]

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Gleanings From The Past #39

Color Blind The crier employed by an auctioneer in Portsmouth, among other articles, cried white silk stockings, of all colors. — Chaplet of Comus, 1811 Precise Pronunciation A gentleman of the bar in Ireland walking one day with a friend, who was extremely precise in pronunciation, the latter hearing a person near him say curosity […]

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Pun Of The Weak: Leauge

I remember joining a tennis tournament where I was the only player when the tournament started. The organizers said that I was in a league of my own.  

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Pun Of The Weak: The Longest Word

During an English lesson… Teacher: The longest English word is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis… Little Johnny: I know a longer word than that. Teacher: Could you please tell us what it is? Little Johnny: Whatever follows “…and now a word from our sponsors…”.

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