'The Story of English' -- The Mother Tongue

'The Story of English' -- The Mother Tongue
“From the beginning, English was a crafty hybrid, made in war and peace,” write Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil in Chapter Two of “The Story of English,” called “The Mother Tongue.” Invasions and cultural revolutions fed the development of English long before 1776 and American independence. In the eighteenth century, “a gifted amateur... Read more »

Merry Left-Handers Day!

Merry Left-Handers Day!
Author/editor’s note: I’ve received an e-mail today from Anything Left-Handed containing correct information for the Left-Handers Day celebration. I’m advised that the correct website for Left-Handers Day information is: http://clicks.aweber.com/y/ct/?l=IHRIA&m=JJBWKpQAyeFvF9&b=d52yi_OT4fRFhonxX3ewSQ (NOT .co.uk) Have a great day, readers! Here we are approaching the middle of August, and you didn’t think there was anything to celebrate, did... Read more »

'The Story of English' -- Speaking of English (and why now)

'The Story of English' -- Speaking of English (and why now)
As promised, here’s part one of the series about the book “The Story of English.”  But I would be remiss if I went on with it without mentioning why I choose to stick with writing about words now. First of all, you expect it of me. But secondly, for those of you who think I... Read more »
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In memory of Stan Mikita

In memory of Stan Mikita
I had known it was coming since the most recent day the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup championship, i.e., June 15, 2015, but today’s  news of Stan Mikita’s death still came as a shock to me as a Blackhawk supporter. Some of my favorite memories of growing up are of watching Stan late in... Read more »

A new series: 'The Story of English'

A new series: 'The Story of English'
This month, I’ll concentrate my posts on “The Story of English,” a book by Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil published by Viking and Elizabeth Sifton Books in 1986 to coincide with a PBS television series of the same name. (There are two parts of why I love books — they last longer than video... Read more »

More from Audrey Hepburn on 'How to be Lovely'

More from Audrey Hepburn on 'How to be Lovely'
Here’s another selection of quotations and observations from Melissa Hellstern’s book “How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life.” (For two previous posts, catch up here and here.) A whole little section of the book is headed “Laugh Often.” With a pen (or PC) name like Margaret Serious, I don’t necessarily think of... Read more »
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'How to be Lovely' -- Audrey Hepburn, 'My Fair Lady,' and life

'How to be Lovely' -- Audrey Hepburn, 'My Fair Lady,' and life
When I recently found Melissa Hellstern’s book “How to be Lovely: The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life,”  I recognized that it would have to include material about one of my favorite movies, “My Fair Lady.” And so it did, both in Hepburn’s own words about a famous scene and in one speech by her character, Eliza... Read more »

'How to be Lovely -- The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life:' Some lovely thoughts

'How to be Lovely -- The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life:' Some lovely thoughts
I was browsing at a neighborhood coffee shop which has taken our local treat, “little library” boxes, indoors and turned it into a set of shelves to leave a book or take a book. When I saw a copy of “How to be Lovely — The Audrey Hepburn Way of Life” by Melissa Hellstern (Penguin... Read more »

World Emoji Day? Bah, humbug -- I'll use words

World Emoji Day? Bah, humbug -- I'll use words
When I checked on Facebook for reactions to my previous post, I saw a notice that today is World Emoji Day. Pardon me for not celebrating. I am comfortable enough adding “Wink” or “Ha ha!” to sentences I’m writing. I don’t need to show someone a laughing face or a winking face — which they (or... Read more »
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An expression not worth defending: Background music

An expression not worth defending: Background music
Since I’ve had some dental work recently, I’ve had to be very careful about every sound coming out of my mouth. Some sounds will hurt, so I want to minimize that. That has meant something very unusual for me: avoiding music. I don’t want to sing along and hurt my jaw, or try to whistle... Read more »