UK paperback

Old English

Time, gentlemen, please

It often takes a great mind to recognize the obvious. Here is W H Auden, reprinted in this month’s Harper’s:

Strictly speaking, “Old English” should be called “Young English”.


That’s all from me for this year, folks. Remember, a copy of Unspeak makes a delightful gift for friends and family, and they will surely thank you all the more if you buy them two copies each, to hedge against loss or fire. And for when it comes, merry Christmas, or Newton Day, or whatever dumbass name you want to call it.

  1. 1  bastion  December 18, 2007, 12:28 am 

    Have a great Christmas, Steven.

  2. 2  Gavin  December 18, 2007, 6:43 pm 

    That took about five minutes….am I stupid?

    Happy Christmas Steven.

    (you forgot to mention the t shirts)

  3. 3  Alex Higgins  December 23, 2007, 7:26 pm 

    My Dad once told me that there was a difference between wishing someone a Merry Christmas instead of a Happy Christmas – since the former implies getting pissed.

    I wonder if anyone has any insight into this?

    Merry Christmas, Steven and all present!

  4. 4  lamentreat  December 24, 2007, 1:10 pm 

    I think your Dad was right, “merry” connoting merriment, “happy” closer to a more general seasonal contentment.

    I vaguely remember as a kid in Ireland that “merry” was frowned on because it sounded a bit English. “Happy” would be the solid nationally-specific Christmas usage…

    Maybe Auden’s bon mot should be put alongside the perennial “Who came first, Gary Numan or Gary Oldman?” question.

    And a happy Christmas to all.

  5. 5  richard  December 24, 2007, 5:10 pm 

    I’m feeling even slower: I’ve just realised that Fredric Jamison’s term “late capitalism” is a delightful little garden of unspeak all on its own.

    if I get around to reading the book, no doubt I’ll have more examples to add.

  6. 6  en  December 26, 2007, 3:00 am 

    The title of this post just reminded me of this elderly danish lady on charter holiday in Spain, who asked at the hotel bar: “Do you have Old English?”

    True story :-)

    Merry Christmas

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