15 February 2009

PHILOLOGIA

You remember how actors used to be told that if they were acting a crowd scene, they all had to murmur "Rhubarb Rhubarb"? On the train last Saturday for London and the Forward in Faith meeting, perforce I had to hear the extraordinary chatter of a group of young women. Rendering them on stage would be a matter, I reflected, of "like like like" ("I'm like on the train ...", confided one of them into her mobile). My senior churchwarden, the lexicographer, tells me that "like" is called a "filler" and is of North American origin, coming probably from somewhere called "California". Oxford is full of North American girls whose fathers appear to see Oxford as a sort of finishing school. Not that I have anything against North Americans; a former colleague and friend, educated at Harvard, Tuebingen, and Wadham (at least two of which are reputable academic institutions), was an American, as is a current friend, an academic who is as at home with the denizens of the Tudor court as if he had been chatting with them all yesterday. But neither of them says "like" at all. Neither would the bimbos if they had been properly educated through the means of Latin Prose Composition. Which reminds me: I noticed on my computer the other day a course for teaching yourself liturgical Latin. It is called Simplicissimus, is sponsored by the Latin Mass Society, and looks a very good way of getting fast into exactly what you need for saying (parts at least of) the Mass and the Office in Latin. Talking about which: the Westminster Cathedral Bookshop and the nearby CTS bookshop have both acquired new stocks of the Liturgia Horarum in Latin; an update of the Second Typical Edition with, as far as I could see, none of the innumerable misprints removed. Ah, and by the way, there appeared to be significant disparities of price between the two shops. OOOh yes and did you see that bit in the papers about how discursiveness and forgetfulness are among the earliest signs of Dementia? Now, how did I mean to end this post ...

8 comments:

rev'd up said...

Like, don't you know about Frank Zappa ("Frank Zappa Crappa" and his rippin' gang "THE Mother's of Invention" and his deep wisdom "watch out where the huskies go, and don't ya eat no yellow snow"). Like haven't you heard of his kid, Moon Unit Zappa!?! I mean, you are like so totally out of it...

Take a look at this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valley_Girl_(song)

Zappa is like, totally cool. And, yeah, he's from Cali-fornication. So, like, what's the big magilla!?!

Zappa was soooo into the first amendment. He like, kinda wrote the whole thing or at least knew a lot about that kind of stuff. He thought jerks who didn't, like, you know, "free speech" were a ten-finger-gag.

Little Black Sambo said...

What a post! I was, like, wow!

Wm said...

"Rhubarb, rhubarb!"? In my salad days, it was "spaghetti, macaroni!" But hey, like I'm North American, so what do I know?

Presbyter said...

Did nobody say "You know"? It is even worse than "like" as a popular interjection. Nor are either confined to North America as they are fairly common in England among the younger age groups. The old are not immune either, symptomatic of this was Inspector Morse gently mocking a constable using "like".

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

"y'know" was what I was cross about last year. Indeed, I do still turn the News off when somebody being interviewed keeps saying it; it makes me want to roar I DO NOT KNOW AND I OBJECT TO YOUR TELLING ME THAT I DO KNOW.

This year, "like". Perhaps North American readers , like weather forecasters, could give me warning of what unpleasantnesses are heading across the Atlantic for next year.

My cultural-linguistic sympathies are with General de Gaulle. He wouldn't have said "Vive like Quebec".

The Welsh Jacobite said...

"Y'know" has a long pedigree.

My housemaster (ex-Royal Artillery, served in Egypt in the 1950s) used to punctuate his utterances with it liberally.

His Sixth Form history set once told him at the end of a lesson, "Sir, do you realise that today you've said 'Y'know' two hundred and fifty-three times?"

He replied, "Yes, I just can't help it. My wife complains about it all the time, y'know."

To which the class, delighted, responded in spontaneous chorus, "Two hundred and fifty-four!"

Presbyter said...

Two more abominations are "sort of" and "stuff". Many teenagers seem to be unable to converse without the use of these words.

Kenneth P said...

Sadly, I have been educated in Latin Prose Composition and have even taught Cicero, but being young and from Arizona (which is California-light in many ways), I sneak far too many "like"s, "y'know"s and "sort of"s into conversation. Maybe someday I'll class up....

post scriptum: I just recently discovered your blog and appreciate your learning and tone. May God bless you and your ministry.