13 August 2006

Weirding the language

Prometheus remembers the arguments with Suhit over the evolution of the language. ‘It is the nature of language to evolve. Nobody speaks Queen’s English the way she spook it’, he would jest. The blood of Prometheus the Puritan would boil. Reverence for his grammar teachers and love for the languages would cause him to revolt. ‘I agree that language has to evolve. We did not have words like motherboard and podcast in English till a few decades ago. But (yes, Prometheus did evolve enough to disregard the ‘Never begin a sentence with “but” rule’) evolution does not mean mutation’, Prometheus would retort.

Prometheus routinely witnessed the assault on English in Mumbai newspapers, but it was his relocation to the UAE that would make him see bloodbath. Not the Middle East conflict, but its reportage. Sample a headline, dear readers: ‘Region Aids Hub’. Though he would like to cast a sadistic smirk at your torment, Prometheus will put you out of your misery. The news item below the headline went on about the Arab ‘region’ providing ‘aid’ to war-struck Lebanon through Dubai, the financial ‘hub’. Prometheus was reminded of an item in the Times of India that went something like ‘man kills wife for having an affair with a chopper’, which at first boggled the mind of Prometheus as to why would a woman have an affair with a chopping tool. This was before he realized that his own love life or the lack (of love and life) thereof could drive him to taking an irresistible attraction to a 65535-piece ratchet socket set. He consoled himself out of this relationship when he came up with ‘she loves me’ on the 2749th bit of his 2750-way multi spanner.

Having nothing better to do, he trawled the Internet when he came upon ‘verbing weirds the language’. Prometheus heard what felt like an anguished moan emanating from the final resting places of M/s. Wren and Martin. Apparently, it has become fashionable to use verbs and nouns interchangeably. As in ‘I architect software solutions to live but I live to blog’ or ‘the United States partners India as it transitions into a global economy. This deeply impacted Prometheus the Software Guy, who insists on closing every open brace (with a matching closing brace (in his subthoughts)).

Powerless to halt the transmogrification of the fair spræk of Engelond, Prometheus went back to mind his r’s (not arse) and s’s. Everyone else already minds the p’s and q’s.

Afflicted by nostalgia, Prometheus leaves you with this Middle English poem excerpted from Wikipedia: Middle English.

Whan that Aprill with his shoures sote
The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote,
And bathed euery veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
Inspired hath in euery holt and heeth
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe course yronne,
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the niȝt with open ye—
So priketh hem Nature in hir corages—
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, couthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from euery shires ende
Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende,
The holy blissful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke.

Translations: When April with its sweet showers has pierced the drought of March to the root, and bathed every vein in such liquor from whose power the flower is engendered; when Zephyr [the west wind] also, with his sweet breath has blown [into life] in every wood and heath the tender crops, and the young sun has run his half-course in the sign of the Ram [Aries], and small fowls make melody, who sleep all night with open eye - so Nature stimulates them in their hearts - THEN people long to go on pilgrimages, and palmers [i.e. pilgrims carrying palm leaves] to seek strange coastlines, to distant saints [i.e., holy places], known in various lands; and specially, from every shire's end [i.e. the border of every county] in England, to Canterbury they journey, to seek the holy blissful martyr [Thomas à Becket] who helped them when they were sick. (source: Wikipedia)


Lizza said...

Haha! I like your blog, Prometheus. Whatever punishment the Olympians meted out to you for stealing fire, I'm glad they didn't take away your wit. :-)

Drinkeo ergo cogito...brilliant! Et tu.

For hilarious yet educational posts about the use of the English language, might I suggest SPOGG, which stands for "Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar."

I'll be back. :-)

Prometheus said...

Thanks Lizza. The admiration is mutual. Am checking out SPOGG.

And please do be Bach, I'll be Chopin liver fer breakfast till then.

elvira said...

You wrote both (this one and 'Gollum') in the same day? Were you working on these for some time or did you actually write both of them in the same day?

I find it amazing that one could have TWO such wonderfully fleshed out and completely diverse pieces within 24 hours.

Prometheus said...

Well, Elvira (mistress of the dark?) I DID write those two on the same day, incredible as it may seem.

Helps when you're schizophrenic. Many minds make more noise :P

eriu said...

Chaucer for the win. Or something :).

We wouldn't be speaking English right now if not for him.