blet, medlar

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The tree of English lexis produces many and varied fruit, and some are quite unexpected. Some are old and overripe to the point of… not rotting, but developing a dense, aged form that has made a mush of the original: a timeless tradition with the richness of antiquity. Others are strange blends and borrowings: they seem like gifts of the ancient but they are more grifts and grafts of the moderns. You may eat all day for many years of the many different fruits this tree bears and still, on some bright day, taste not one but two that you do not recall knowing before.

And so it was yesterday for me. I was wandering through the buzzing hay-meadow of Twitter and I saw a short sequence of tweets by an Italian friend, Costanza: Continue reading

daubry

Is this word good or not?

I guess it depends on who you ask. Continue reading

fryke

It’s time for another fresh old word from James Orchard Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic Words. And it’s a word for spring.

In fact, it’s a word for springing, For sproinging. Even for spronging. It’s for someone or something who’s spring-fresh, even frightfully so, like the friskiest fry or some other friendly tyke. Continue reading

spurk

Spring is here, and everything is spurking up.

Does spurk seem like a word I just invented? It… sort of is, but it’s not. I wondered if it existed, so I looked, and it does. It has been in English for more than three centuries, though no one seems to use it these days.

And what would you suppose it means? Continue reading

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flinder

What are they flutter among the flowers and among the cinders? Flinders. Do they flit towards the flames in fascination? Or flap between blossoms and flowing bowers? Are they grey as dust and smoke? Or vivid, resplendent, variegated, as monarchs and iridescent metalmarks? All are leaping and dropping lepidoptera, each one a flinder. Continue reading

A Hidden Gender?

Last fall I gave at talk for Editors Canada in Barrie, Ontario, on grammatical gender and pronouns. I forgot to add it to my blog then, so I’m adding it now! There are many people who have a lot of things to say about grammatical gender and natural gender and use of different pronouns for different people, and many of them are presenting “facts” that are no such thing. So I took the time to set forth the real facts.