Let’s start the week with a super fun grammar video:
I didn’t know that was how the possessive apostrophe s came to be; what a cool bit of language history. Although now I do want to bring up “haet” in everyday conversation.
(via The Dish)
I was curious to hear about the editing to stories like Rapunzel. We tend to think Disney tones down classic fairy tales for family audiences, but apparently the Grimms felt that some versions were a bit too scandalous as well.
Happy St. Crispin’s Day! For all you Shakespeare fans out there:
A few more fun links for the day:
Mysteries of the Vernacular is one of my new favorite web series. Beautifully animated sequences take you through the history of one common word, like clue:
This is exactly what I needed when I was nine and asked my mom why we called a tree “a tree” and not “a dog” or “a fireman.” Can’t wait to see the full set of 26!
Another reason to pay attention in school–you could get ideas for your own bestselling dystopian YA series. The Oxford Dictionaries looks at the language of The Hunger Games. They point out how Panem is a take “panem et circenses,” a reference by Roman poet Juvenal to Ancient Roman society. Another part I liked in particular:
“Like many fantasy writers, Collins has invented some new vocabulary of her own. Anavox is akin to a slave – someone who has been punished for a ‘crime’ and thereby made a mute servant. Her reason for choosing this word is simple: the Greek prefix ‘a’ means ‘without’ and the Latin ‘vox’ means ‘voice’ so avox literally means ‘without voice’.”
When I was in sixth grade, I was so mad at my parents for signing me up for Latin class. But apparently they–and Suzanne Collins–were onto something. From real history to bits of inspired Latin, a little knowledge can really inspire your book.
(image: NYPL Digital Gallery)
A few more links to take you through Tuesday:
Very interesting article about fairy tales by Joan Acocella over at the New Yorker. One part I found especially interesting:
“The main reason that Zipes likes fairy tales, it seems, is that they provide hope: they tell us that we can create a more just world. The reason that most people value fairy tales, I would say, is that they do not detain us with hope but simply validate what is. Even people who have never known hunger, let alone a murderous stepmother, still have a sense—from dreams, from books, from news broadcasts—of utter blackness, the erasure of safety and comfort and trust. Fairy tales tell us that such knowledge, or fear, is not fantastic but realistic.
I wonder if fairy tales have to be hopeful or realistic. Many tales end with the villain defeated (even if it’s a violent manner, ala The Goose Girl), which suggests hope. Maybe it’s not as bright as Zipes would like, but I think it balances with the realism and darkness Acocella mentions. Cruelty and violence are real. We need to confront the world and its violence. But I think folktales also reference how goodness can prevail, even if death is inevitable.
Make sure to check out the whole article through the link. Lots of engaging history and literary criticism.
(image: Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Mrs. Edgar Lucas, translator. Arthur Rackham, illustrator. London: Constable & Company Ltd, 1909, via SurLaLune Fairy Tales)