Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
Brian Micklethwait on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
Carolyn Mohr on The ups and downs of English
Michael Jennings on Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
priscila on The ups and downs of English
Simon Gibbs on Wedding photography (4): Preparations
6000 on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Darren on Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
Michael Jennings on Wedding photography (2): Signs
MarkR on Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
MNB Achari on Google Nexus 4 photos
Most recent entries
- Pictures from Georgia and Warsaw
- Cats without tails are not scary
- Big Things blocked by the trees of Southwark Park
- Wedding photography (4): Preparations
- Bookshops as Amazon showrooms
- Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
- Feynman Diagrams on the Feynman van
- Rothko Toast
- Wedding photography (3): Technology as sculpture
- And another posting from my smartphone
- Posted from my new smartphone
- Google Nexus 4 photos
- Wedding photography (2): Signs
- Wedding photography (1): The superbness of the weather
- A Fleet Street lunch
Other Blogs I write for
6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
Another Food Blog
Antoine Clarke's Election Watch
Armed and Dangerous
Art Of The State Blog
Boatang & Demetriou
Burning Our Money
Chase me ladies, I'm in the cavalry
China Law Blog
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Coffee & Complexity
Communities Dominate Brands
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Conservative Party Reptile
Counting Cats in Zanzibar
Deleted by tomorrow
Don't Hold Your Breath
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Everything I Say is Right
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Freedom and Whisky
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My Boyfriend Is A Twat
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we make money not art
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This and that
Category archive: Language
As has already been reported here, I have been reading Pride and Prejudice on my Google Nexus 4 ultra-mobile computer-with-phone. And, in Chapter X of this book, I read this:
My highlighted version of that last sentence being:
“As for your Elizabeth’s picture, you must not attempt to have it taken, for what painter could do justice to those beautiful eyes?”
So, in Jane Austen time, painters “took” pictures.
I thought that was only photographers. There does seem, does there not?, to be something peculiarly apt about a photographer “taking” a picture. After all, you could only “take” a picture with one click of a mechanical button, as I just did of my Google Nexus 4 with my Panasonic Lumix FZ150, if the picture was in some basic sense already there for the taking, in its entirety. “Take” gets across the difference between photoing someone and painting a portrait of them, by which I mean “making” a portrait.
Perhaps this “take” usage, to describe portrait painting, declined when the painters stopped claiming to produce what we now call photographic likenesses, and, under the competitive influence of actual photography, began to “make” pictures of people, the whole point ofand the whole justification of which was that a mere camera could absolutely not “take” such pictures. Such paintings are made, not taken. To accuse a painter of “taking” a picture would be to accuse him of adding nothing.
This morning, in bed, I pondered the extreme contrast in meaning of the expressions “settle up” and “settle down”. They are not opposites on the same scale, in the manner of “talk up” and “talk down”. They are two completely different expressions.
Having now woken up (again) and got up, I continue to ponder the ups and downs of the English language. What, if anything, might “woken down” mean?
“Fed up” means fed up, yet is seemingly unrelated to merely being fed. “Fed down” means very little, unless you are doing something like feeding a wire down a hole.
“Look down” is clear enough. But “look up” means three almost unrelated things. You can look at the ceiling. You can look up a word. And things can be looking up. In version one of this paragraph, look up only meant two things, but then I realised there was a third. Perhaps there are others.
“Kneel down” exists as an expression. “Kneel up” does not, but ought to, to describe that particular other sort of kneeling.
Out of doors in England, there are “downs”, but no “ups”. Often downs are further up than the regular landscape. The South Downs are hills, are they not?
How difficult it must be to be foreign, and to have to bone up on all this.
A cat gets into a box. Eventually. Video. Here.
And no, I don’t know what language that is.
“This is a guy who literally is walking around in a dark room trying to find the light switch of leadership.”
Ouch, says Instapundit. Indeed. But what Instapundit means is that this denunciation of President Obama by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie really hits home. I don’t think the pain he feels is caused by that “literally”.
Literally used to mean: this is not a metaphor. Now literally means: I am really serious about this metaphor and I really want you to listen.
Presumably these exoplanets are inhabited by gods.
Or perhaps by very rich socialite ladies. “My exoplanet is simply divine, my dears.”
I know, silly. Divine means identify. But I laughed.
Cricinfo boffin Anantha Narayanan:
My surmise was correct. In the 210 4/5/6 match Test series played so far, the England win over India is the most comprehensive and devastating in history of Test cricket. That is what many experts are saying but this is now proved here with hard analytical conclusions.
I found the series utterly fascinating from beginning to end, despite its ever more extreme one-sidedness. Partly, this was ignoble sadism, watching my team slaughter the other fellows. But there was another slightly more honourable impulse at work, I think. The thing is, England have never played like this before. England don’t do whitewashes, or whatever such slaughters are more properly called when the white guys beat the non-white guys. They don’t win the series with a succession of wins, with no draws, and then win the dead test match at the end as well, also by an innings. If anything, I found the final test the most riveting of all. Would England keep it going, and win the lot? Yes they would. Yes they did. Wow. Fancy that.
There was also a backhanded compliment involved in my gloating. I can remember when England slaughtering India at cricket was about as much fun to contemplate as someone torturing a cat. It proved only that England were being horrid to poor defenceless India. It didn’t prove anything about England’s prowess. Ditto New Zealand. But India, in cricket and in the world generally, is now a major force, a fact reflected in their recent number one test match status and nouveau riche economic status, second only in public esteem in that particular contest to China. This result was as freakishly bad for them as it was freakishly good for England, which is all part of how freakishly good it was for England. India can live with us poor little Brits gloating about beating them at a mere game, while they continue to take over our steel industry. So, I gloat.
This, by the way, and I apologise for tangenting off, is one of the sources of anti-Americanism. Anti-Americanism is a similarly backhanded compliment, paid by the world to the top country in the world. Americans, we all instinctively know, can take it. If people ever start hating China more than America, then watch out America, because that will mean that China is the top country.
But this is a cricket posting, so I really don’t want to end with that digression. And yes, there are a couple more things I want to say about cricket.
The first concerns a disagreeable new habit that the television cricket commentators have suddenly acquired, probably from Geoff Boycott. Whenever anything happens, instead of pausing, thinking, and then saying something pertinent, in clear-as-a-bell English, they are now groaning. Boycott and Michael Vaughan are the main offenders, so maybe it’s a Yorkshire thing. Ooooooh. Ooooor. Awwwww. Errrrrr. Often there is a rising inflection to it, as if they are disapproving of what they see. In short, the television commentators are starting to sound exactly like spectators. This is not what they are paid to do. They should be sent away on courses, presided over by Richie Benaud, the Pope of the pause think say something pertinent school of commentating. The worst offence was right at the end of one of the games. Instead of saying: England have won by however many runs it was, Boycott groaned and moaned and said something highly non-pertinent. Terrible.
The second thing I want to say about India is that I hope England slaughter them in the one-dayers also. England have already won the only T20 game, but then got the worst of a rained off start to the 50 over series. I hope that is no portent and that England come back hard and win the rest of the ODI series 4-0.
I do not say this out of sadism. I say it because cricket needs India to be good, and nothing provokes cricket goodness like a jolly good thrashing. England’s current excellence is directly traceable to earlier humiliations, when the Aussies five-nothing-ed them in 2006-7 or thenabouts, and when the Windies blew them away in Jamaica, just after Andy Flower became the coach. If India win these ODIs, lots of Indians will say: there you are, when we try, we win. Test cricket is boring, who needs it? We are the one day kings and we just proved it. Our team’s okay. It’s test matches that are the problem, blah blah blah. Cricket very much now needs Indians not to be able to say this, but instead to say to themselves: bloody hell, we are rubbish at ... cricket. All of it. We must spend some of our new money by not being so rubbish, across all the formats.
Next time anyone asks how clean my flat is, I will reply: “Fairly clean.” In fact, come to think of it, I already do.
About two hours LATER:
I could keep doing this for months.
When it comes to Michael Jennings telling me about something, this is the usual pattern, I find. Not that he necessarily does, just that he could.
Labuan island, Malaysia:
I’m not bored yet.
These are coming to me as and when taken, right? Not just from the archives?
Actually it’s by Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd. And it’s not that new; it was first published (in French) in 2007. But it has just been made available in English. And it is exactly the Todd book that, for several years now, I have most been wanting to read. It is entitled A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World.
If it is as interesting as I hope it is, this book could finally enable Todd to make his long overdue breakthrough into the English speaking world.
And it is, as Instapundit is always saying, in the post.
In all my previous Todd googlings, I had never before come across this stuff about Todd, although I am almost certain that it has been there all along. Will read this tomorrow, or failing that, Real Soon. (And ooh look: at the top left, under where it says “NEW!!!”, there is me, and three of my Todd postings.)
Misspelt (correction: Italian) signs of the times
Excellent new word
Pronouncing on the Six Nations
BM.com quote of the day
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom spam comment spelling mistake of the day
The Humpty Dumpty Learning Channel
Obamanomics dod not work
English will not last for ever shock
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
K Street - metonym - synecdoche
To Serve Man
Reading various bits of Roger Kimball
I flipping told him
Sounds like a brothel with film star lookalikes
One of the many signs of aging
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom modified cliche insult of the day
Stepping forward into the abyss!
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
All your Quite Interesting questions answered
What a difference a g makes
Spelling Micklethwait wrong and Googling for Brian Micklethwaite
Long platform ticket
I am not drunk - I just didn’t know what to put so I just started
Excellent mixed metaphor
I need to get out less
“I will cause a boy that driveth a plough to know more of the scriptures than thou dost.”
Metaphor muddle alert
Today I have been blogging elsewhere and also doing other things
Signs of civilisation
It’s true what they say about how hard it is to pronounce Chinese – oh beansprouts!
New word alert
Robots will transform education
On the appeal or lack of it to Young Europeans of “capitalism”
When inimitable means very imitable
Today I ate something that disagreed with me