Friday, July 29, 2011

When I read American publications and I’ve read quite a few recently, Karen Slaughter for example, no matter how good the writing might be I am always brought up short by American idiosyncrasies in the use of the English language. No that’s not really fair, American is American and why should it be any different to how it has evolved? The way language is being mauled about now by the use of textspeak what does it matter? But like I say it always does bring me up short: for example dove being the past tense of dive; skud being the past tense of skid, spit fit and shit having no past tense at all.

It reminds me of when I was working in Virginia and one of the faculty asked me if I would attend the annual dinner of his fraternity, big occasion, and give the after dinner speech. I agreed and later discovered to my horror that this particular fraternity was one of eggheads: more terminal degrees than I’ve had hot dinners; masters and doctors of this, that, and the other. The crème de la crème of academe. I am here to tell you I nearly shit myself but, having agreed to do it, I could hardly chicken out, fear and trepidation notwithstanding. So I decided that, as words have always been so important in my life I would spend half an hour or however long it took to discuss the differences between American and English English, hopefully with lashings of humour. It went down a treat. Much relief on the part of yours truly. I spit it out in the most friendly fashion. The dinner was very good too.

I must say working at James Madison was a really happy experience. Friends made, and friends kept as I am still in touch with a number twenty seven years later. Hard to think that some of my students are now in their late forties, maybe even early fifties and that an eight years old in the house where I lodged is now a Major in the US Air Force and with a wife expecting their first child. Tempus certainly does fuget. Memento mori.

A short Blog today. I am in the middle of writing something I’ve wanted to work on for a few years and evidently Madam Muse being currently on hand I don’t want her to suddenly take umbrage and do a disappearing act. You all have a good day now. In Greece you can even say have a good half day and, on the first of the month you greet people with ‘good month.’ Talking of language I do regret that I have never in fourteen years learnt to speak Greek with any fluency. Shame shame shame I say.

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