Page 5 - Language Facts

James Joyce wrote 'Finnegan's Wake,' one of the most famously difficult books of all time. See how H.G. Wells responded

James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish author who earned great renown for his works. 'Finnegan's Wake' has received much attention from literary critics, not necessarily because of it's praiseworthiness, but because of it's difficulty, newfangledness, and the experimental approach with language Joyce took in writing it.

H.G. Wells certainly had done some critical thinking and was not lacking an opinion of the novel. He once wrote in a letter to Joyce, "Who the hell is this Joyce who demands so many waking hours of the few thousand I have still to live for a proper appreciation of his quirks and fancies...?"

Given the bluntness of that letter, you might think there were only ill feelings between the two, but H.G. Wells had no desire to see bitterness develop between himself and Joyce. He actually held Joyce in high esteem, and his words even struck a much friendlier tone in closing the letter. He wrote, "My warmest wishes to you Joyce. I can't follow your banner any more than you can follow mine. But the world is wide and there is room for both of us to be wrong."

Clearly, H.G. Wells was not a fan of this particular work. However, he did not let it damage the respect that he had for Joyce's "genius," which he also wrote in that letter.


Homicide, regicide, pesticide, and decide. One of these things is not like the other... or is it?

"Homicide" is the killing of another human, "regicide" is the killing of a monarch, "pesticide" is a substance used in the killing of insects, and "decide" is… to make a choice?

All of these words have the same partial etymology of "cide," which means "cut" or "kill." The word "decide" actually means to make a choice by cutting or killing the other choices. In other words, at it's core, deciding means choosing by process of elimination.

Of course, the word "decide" isn't used that specifically. No dictionary will specify that a decision is only a process of elimination. Words don't always have the same exact meanings as what their roots might suggest, but it's interesting to see the connection between words with similar etymologies.

At first it may seem as though some words have nothing to do with others of the same root, but often there's a connection somewhere. Knowing the meanings of word roots can be pretty useful when you come across a word you don't know the meaning of. It allows you to make an educated guess and possibly get a general meaning based on the context.


Which is the correct spelling, "canceled" or "cancelled?"

Outside of America, "cancelled" is always spelled with a double "l" because that is how it is used in British English, which is used everywhere in the world besides America. With worlds connecting due to the Internet and social media, one has to be aware of who you are talking to or writing for when deciding on whether to go for the double "l" or not.

In British usage, for words with more than one syllable ending in "l", the "l" is doubled before the addition of such endings as "-ed," "-ing," "-ist," "-ize," and "-ise." In American usage, the final "l" is doubled only when the stress falls on a syllable other than the first. American usage agrees with the British on annulled, controlled, patrolled, and extolled because the stress falls on the second syllable of these words. It therefore stands to reason that it should agree on "enrolled" as well, but one will often find "enroled" with a single "l" being used in publications.

Although people from all over the world use Facebook, the American usage is accepted by the administrators. That is why words that the rest of the world use "correctly" will be underlined as spelling mistakes under American usage. This has often led to great frustration and lengthy arguments by language lovers. We have to accept that there are two types of English, and that they are both correct!


Some awesome lists!

The English language has a nearly defunct mark similar to an umlaut called a diaeresis. When is it used?

The diaeresis, which is pronounced as "die heiresses," is from the Greek. It means "divide," and the two dots are often mistaken for the umlaut. The diaeresis is completely different from the German umlaut. The umlaut is used to change the pronunciation of a vowel, and it sometimes changes the meaning of a word as well.

'The New Yorker' is one of the few publications that still uses it to distinguish between two vowel sounds in a word when they occur back to back, as in "naive" or "releect," for example.

So why has it's use nearly slipped into oblivion? Because the practical use of the diaeresis is of limited benefit. To better understand that answer, take a look at the word "cooperate." It may also be written as "co-operate," or "coöperate." In reality, most people do not have difficulty in pronouncing the word no matter how it is formatted. As a result, most people don't see much purpose in using a nearly obsolete symbol.

Besides, on many programs today, it can be challenging to get the diaeresis to stay over the correct vowel. It is often automatically taken off by modern technology, such as autocorrect.

Still, it's interesting to learn about how English usage has evolved.


Jersey Shore is called 'Macaroni Rascals' in Japan!

Jersey Shore is an American reality television series which ran on MTV from December 3, 2009 to December 20, 2012 in the United States.

The series follows the lives of eight housemates spending their summer at the Jersey Shore in the U.S. State of New Jersey. The show debuted amid large amounts of controversy regarding the use of the words “Guido/Guidette,” portrayals of Italian-American stereotypes, and scrutiny from locals because the cast members were not residents of the area.

The series garnered record ratings for MTV, making it the network’s most viewed series telecast ever. The series’ cast has also been credited with introducing unique lexicon and phrases into American popular culture.

The series has started airing in Japan, and with the average Japanese cable TV viewer being totally ignorant of American geography, the name “Jersey Shore” needed an explanatory subtitle. So MTV Japan has decided on translating the show to “MTV Jersey Shore—The New Jersey life of macaroni rascals”.



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