Monday, 15 September 2014

Transparency: a problem of our times

  I have posted previously about transparency and its problems. The excellent David Astle @dontattempt on Twitter asks 'Is a transparent an absent father?' Is transparency a problem of our Times - and other cryptics, I wondered?
(He is a crossword setter, which prompted my query.)

All an Illyism

  On my 'café crème for espresso' query, Lynne Murphy of the invaluable 'separatedbyacommonlanguage' blog / website tells me that it is definitely not an Americanism. Perhaps I should be careful not to attribute so many changes to US influence?

Following extensive research (or a quick look at Wiki), it now seems to me that the crème expression (ouch) was possibly from the early days of coffee-making machines and described the creamy or frothy appearance compared to that produced by previous methods. The phrase might have been more popular in Switzerland and, for a time, in Italy, perhaps in the 'crema' version. (But they call it espresso now, don't they, or just coffee?) And certainly in France it means more or less what the name suggests.

However, as the cafe in question was an Illy at Schiphol Airport this doesn't quite explain it. Illy is a long-established Italian company, although, as the name suggests, founded by a Romanian.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Past history

  When I get peevish about it, please remind me that some of my favourite writers use this expression. I'm reading "Master and Commander" for about the fourth time and find that early on, when Captain Aubrey is trying out his new command, the brig Sophie, he considers consulting her log to learn her "past history". This appears to be Patrick O'Brian's rather than Aubrey's phrase and I would like to change the paragraph slightly to make it seem like subtle characterisation: though JA was never less than a brilliant seaman, he was not always in total command of his words.

Lingeray, espresso and expertise

 In Holland recently we asked just for "two coffees", and got, as expected, two espressos. But on the bill it said "2 x café crème". I asked about it and the waitress told me "espresso is called that in French". I don't think so. I wondered if it might be another American usage and have asked the excellent @lynneguist* about it on Twitter. Also about AmE pronunciations of other French words: expertise and lingerie /-ay come to mind, for some reason.
*See also her blog "Separated by a Common Languge".

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Cake rising nicely

Michael Vaughan must have read our blog! Today he talked about England cricketers improving, like a cake rising consistently. I wonder if he's a baker.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Better batter

Been cooking today while cricket was on - wondered if the BBC TMS (Test Match Special cricket commentary) team know the difference between batter and batter. They certainly know their cake as they get so many donated but do they know that some are made with batter?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sentence First

 In my last post I neglected to put a link to Stan Carey's excellent blog, Sentence First. I was delighted to come across it some time ago - even the title was promising. "Sentence first. Verdict afterwards." I think that was it, but I'll check Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. There is so much thought-provoking stuff about language (Humpty Dumpty on verbs, anyone?) in Lewis Carroll - is it unusual for there to be a good connection between language and mathematics or science? Stan Carey is a scientist, I'm glad to say. There should be more interest across  these fields, shouldn't there? Comments, please.

Here's that link: