10 June 2009

The Marvels of English

The English language is wonderful. It has a richness and a subtlety unmatched anywhere on the planet and, quite possibly, in the known Universe (Vogon poetry, for example, is well known for its poverty, although Klingon may be richer in its terminology for warfare).

I was struck recently at how little has to change in an expression to alter its meaning radically. A friend of mine was asked to run a seminar but was unavailable. She asked if I would do it for her, to 'fill her shoes', as it were, and my wierdly wired mind went into overdrive. As I said to her, "... 'filling your shoes' is a noble aspiration. 'Filling your boots' is a very different thing..."


  1. Simon (Tim's party?)27 June, 2009 23:28

    Hello again!

    Had to leave the party early but have managed to find you on the Internet despite various Desmond Hilarys, Hillarys, Hilary Desmond and of course the Everest-climbing guy.

    This is a really nicely arranged set of websites or blogs or whatever you call them. There are some nice examples of the trickiness of English in an old novel by Clive James (of all people)called Brrm Brrm (not sure of spelling here). One of them is how 'I've got him to thank for that' can be negative or positive about 'him' depending on context.

    I just read your story about the warriors and the troopers. It reminds me of a story I started writing ages ago but couldn't think how to finish. In it, a huge spaceship crashes on an alien planet and one survivor pulls himself out of the wreckage. It turns out he's very sad about surviving because he's lived for about 3000 years and can't die.

    The story was supposed to gradually reveal that the survivor is the biblical Lazarus, Jesus' friend. You can see how I might have got stuck finishing it!

    Nice to meet a fellow writer!

    Simon Webb

  2. Nice to meet you too, Simon. Thanks for looking me up.

    The arrangement of the blogs is largely down to those nice people at Blogger who provide the tools to make it easy.

    Clive James has long been a favourite of mine, although I didn't know he'd had a go at writing a novel. I'll have to look that one out.

    I can see your problem with Lazarus in spaceship. Mental note: avoid this plot!