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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

May 2012

Wise Sayings from Tennessee

WISE SAYINGS

I've been super-busy today with family responsibilities, cooking chores to finish before the predicted storms hit, and a horrible backlog of e-mails to answer.  So for a day or so, I'll be pulling out some old posts from my other blog.  These are such fun that I'd hate to have you miss them.

Several years ago, Floyd and I spend six months traveling around western Tennessee to visit each Lions Club in the district.  As we rode along the back roads, away from the din of traffic on I-40, we began to notice that church marquees and  bumper stickers on pickup trucks contained a wealth of down-home wisdom. Here are some of our favorites.


  •  “Never try to teach a frog to sing. You’ll annoy the frog, wear yourself out, and the music will be awful.”
  •  “Don’t drive faster than your angel can fly.”
  •  “Amateurs built the ark.  Professionals built the Titanic.”
  •  “Lord, help me be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”
  • “All experts are twits.”
  • “When you’ve dug yourself into a hole, quit digging.”
  • Sign on back of an ordinary-looking van: “This is a church vehicle.  Please report any suspicious behavior.”
  •  “Teamwork means there’s someone else to blame.”
  •  Sign on a casket company truck: “Please drive safely. Heaven can wait.”
  •  “Do not meddle in the affairs of Dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.”
  • “Some people stop looking for work as soon as they find a job.”
  •  “You gain experience just AFTER you discover you need it.
  • Sign on church: “Under same management for 2000 years.”

A Website Wordle


































Want to take a sneak peek at a website without actually reading it?  Curious about the topics your favorite blogger uses most often? Here's a neat little tool you can use to form a word cloud from any text you choose.  Jonathan Feinberg's Wordle page is easy to use and produces beautiful images, whose colors, shapes, and styles you can play with to your heart's content.  I had used this a year or so ago, but I'm grateful to Anne Wainscott-Sargent for reminding me of it this morning.

The images are also informative.  I created the one that appears above by typing in the URL of my blog, "Roundheads and Ramablings." The application takes all the words at that location, picks out the ones the author uses most often, and then arranges them in a pattern, with the most-used words in the largest print.  This result is a snapshot of what I blog about.  
So what can I learn from it? 

Well, I suppose I should be pleased to see that my posts center around words and the English language. That is my intent, so I'm relieved to know that I haven't strayed too far off content. The next largest word, however, is "Just", which makes me cringe. One of the worst habits I have when I write is throwing in that unnecessary word -- just. It's a kind of verbal twitch--similar, I suppose, to that awful teenage habit of adding "like" before every other word.

I'm aware of this habit and consciously try to eliminate it from my books.  I always run a "find and replace" search on a manuscript to be sure that every "just" refers to something that has to do with justice. But here in the blog? Obviously I've JUST been throwing the word around JUST as i always do.  I guess I'll JUST have to make JUST a bit more effort JUST to get rid of the pesky word.

If you want to create  your own cloud, go to http://www.wordle.net/ and click on the word "create". The page will give you a couple of options.  I did mine by typing in my URL: http://www.katzenhausbooks.com/blog. The blog has an RSS feed, so everything from here on happens automatically.  You can also choose a passage from one of your writing projects if you prefer. You can't really make a mistake, the service is free, and if you don't like the results, nobody else has to see them. 

I did learn one important lesson as I experimented. You can save your word cloud as a PDF file, but it won't print as an image in many other programs.  To put mine here, I had to open the PDF, and then save it as a JPG.  Simple, once you figure that out.

Five More Great Old Words to Confuse the Young Folks

Here's this week's list of Old English words that still have some life in them. In fact, I think all of them apply to my current occupation, which is, has been, and will continue to be, proof-reading!

16. Scriptitation

Noun – A 17th-century word meaning “continual writing” – Matadorians taking part in this year’s National Novel Writing Month are getting good practice at scriptitation!

17. Widdendream

Noun – “A state of mental disturbance or confusion” – I can start using this obsolete Scottish word right away: “While working on writing my thesis, I find I am in widdendream.”

18. Yemeles

Adj. – An Old English and Middle English word meaning “careless, heedless, negligent” – Pronounced as “yeem-lis,” this is another word that could prove useful for teachers around the world: “Handing in messy and incomplete work just shows me you are being yemeles, and I won’t hesitate to give you a zero for the assignment.”

19. Twitter-light

Noun – “Twilight” – Used in the early 17th century, “twitter-light” sounds like a romantic way to refer to the hours as the sun goes down.

20. Illecebrous

Adj. – “Alluring, enticing, attractive” – Alright, so at first this word kind of sounds a way to describe something diseased, but if you put the stress on the second syllable for emphasis, it does sound like a compliment: “That girl was so illecebrous; I’ve got to figure out how to see her again.”

Yes, indeed, I've been working overtime this week, sitting at the keyboard well into the hours of twitter-light, which for me, I think, should be the time when I usually put away the stuff I HAVE to do and substitute a few rounds of twittering about why I'm not doing it.  I've been in a state of widdendream for days, wondering if these chapters make sense or if they're sheer blathering. I'd love to think that my next book will bee illecebrous to my readers, but I've engaged in its scriptitation for so long now that it feels as though it was composed by a yemeles writer.

HMMM. that sounds so gloomy, I think I'd better head back to an earlier list and find a way to deliciate over a brannigan or have a good kench at my own expense.



Memorial Day Began in May 1865 to Honor Civil War Dead


In recognition of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, "Civil War-Era Memories" features excerpts from The Memphis Daily Appeal of 150 years ago. Perspective from our staff is in italics.

May 22, 1862 NOT YET. We notice that several of our exchanges are impressed with the idea that THE APPEAL has already commenced to be issued at Grenada which, of course, is a mistake. We shall continue to publish here until the city is in complete and undisputed possession of the enemy, and will issue a paper "up to the morning and evening of the last day." Our preparations are such that we can continue our daily issue at Grenada the day after our removal from Memphis, and will do so, shall we ever be in the varying fortunes of war, be forced to that necessity. Our loyalty has not been of such a "negative" character that we can hope for freedom from Federal molestation.

(Preparing for the fall of Memphis, Editor John McClanahan moved the Appeal's printing press to Grenada at the end of April while he and a skeletal newsroom produced the last Memphis issues from rented presses. McClanahan wanted to avoid the fate of the Nashville papers which, except for the heavily censored Banner, had all been shut down by Andrew Johnson after the city fell.)

May 23, 1862 Letter from Corinth. Editors Appeal: Still no enemy. Not a shot, save of musketry between pickets and skirmishers ...All is silent in the valley of the shadow of death.

May 25, 1862 We learn that there are parties in this city -- secret sympathizers with the foe, doubtless -- who question the genuineness of Butler's infamous order authorizing his drunken and ruffian soldiery, under certain circumstances, to treat the ladies of New Orleans as common courtesans... We can state that we have copies of both the New Orleans Picayune and True Delta containing this atrocious document.

May 27, 1862 200 RECRUITS WANTED! I will receive Two Hundred stout, able-bodied men, if they will present themselves at my headquarters by the 1st of June... Come on boys, if you want a heap of fun, and kill some Yankees. N. B. FORREST

Compiled by Rosemary Nelms and Jan Smith, The Commercial Appeal News Library

Five Useful Words that Don't Exist in English

I'm borrowing this list from a blog post by Alex Wain.  I've added my own comments in square brackets.

He wrote: "Approximately 375 million people speak English as their first language, in fact it’s the 3rd most commonly spoken language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish). Interestingly enough it’s the number 1 second language used worldwide – which is why the total number of people who speak English, outnumber those of any other.

But whilst it’s the most widely spoken language, there’s still a few areas it falls down on (strange and bizarre punctuation rules aside). We look at 25 words that simply don’t exist in the English language (and yet after reading this list, you’ll wish they did!)"


1 Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut. 

[Who hasn't needed that one?]


2 Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favor, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude.

[This one reminds me of the small-town practice of delivering a casserole to the house of anyone who has just died. No one's hungry; there's no more room in the refrigerator; and before you can return the casserole dish, you're going to have to dispose of the contents and scrub the dish. I remember being very rude to someone who woke us up a week after my son died to announce that she was bringing over a big vat of homemade soup and a loaf of bread.  I really needed to know this word!]


3 Backpfeifengesicht (German): A face badly in need of a fist.

[On "Good Morning America" this morning, they showed a film clip of two little girls in little pink ballet tutus punching each other. It's never too early to introduce a word to be used in place of fisticuffs.]


4 Bakku-shan (Japanese): A beautiful girl… as long as she’s being viewed from behind.

[That description would apply to lots of people--and not just girls! I wonder if there's a masculine version.]


5 Desenrascanco (Portuguese): “to disentangle” yourself out of a bad situation (To MacGyver it)

[Do you remember that 1985-1992 TV show? MacGyver refused to carry a gun, but he could get himself out of any kind of trouble with the help of some duct tape or his handy Swiss Army knife. Not a bad lesson to teach those are surrounded by Backpfeifengesichten.]


If you can't wait for the rest of the list, you can find the original post at Source: http://sobadsogood.com/2012/04/29/25-words-that-simply-dont-exist-in-english/