[DWJ] 'that damned hook'?

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Sun Apr 15 06:32:44 EDT 2007


>On 15/04/07, Otter Perry <ottertee at silverwinggraphics.com> wrote:
>
>>So.  Has anybody else read _Riddley Walker_ by Russell Hoban?  [If I'm
>spelling the title correctly.]  It's been a long time for me, but I
>definitely
>found it worth plowing [or ploughing] through.

and Charlie commented

>It's been a long time for me too, but ditto. RW (which is set in a
>post-apocalyptic distant-future England, for anyone who may not know, but
>don't let that put you off) is a good example of an 'archaeological
>language' book. You have to excavate to find the current words hidden in
>their future forms, albeit distorted by long use and eroded by the sands of
>time... The only example I can call to mind is a rather poor one, though:
>Ardship of Cambry = Archbishop of Canterbury.

It is very difficult to get that sort of thing right.  I remember being
irritated as a child by a similar "language-slippage" attempt in *The
Future Took Us* by David Severn, in which two schoolboys hoicked into a
future-England are baffled by the town of "Ondin", which turns out to be
London.  I just didn't believe that would happen, because the initial
letter is generally the bit people *say*, and the word then trails off, so
Lunn'n (which is already happening) is much more probable.  I decided he'd
made it unlikely just so his characters could be puzzled by it, which I
felt was cheating.

Why would the Archbishop become the Ardship?  Who would be *saying* it in a
sloppy way, for long enough and often enough for that to "take"?  Has
writing been lost?  And where did the "d" come from?  Cambry I can see as
happening, but not Ardship.  (One can spend happy minutes saying
"Archbishop" more and more sloppily to see where it goes, and I end up with
"shbish'p".)

>DWJ does the same thing in the far future section of *A Tale of Time City*,
>by the way (Spauls=St Pauls).

That seems more likely, via S'm Pauls, which again we already have with us.
Not S'n Pauls, for some reason: is the "m" noise easier than the "n"?
Babies get to "m" first, I think, so maybe it is.

I wonder what any of these speculative-linguists would do with Brigstowe.
Or come to that, Plaistow!

Minnow

Queen of Traditionalist Grammar hereafter.





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