Ocarina of Time

I had a moment of inspiration today about the word ocarina. In case you’re unaware of what it is, an ocarina is small wind instrument that probably became a lot more famous around the world after it was prominently featured in the 1998 N64 videogame The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Of course, being as cool as I am, I was already familiar with the instrument, as it had featured as a useable item in the 1993 Gameboy game The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

Anyway, today I saw a picture of an ocarina somewhere, and it made me wonder if the word’s related to geese somehow. Continue reading

Homage to Catalonia

I was rooting through my George Orwell books this weekend, and realised that it had been a long time since I read his account of of fighting in the Spanish Civil War, and grabbed it. It was only today at work when I questioned whether the title was a strange one.

Was it A Homage to Catalonia?

Or An Homage to Catalonia?

A minor difference, perhaps, but also perhaps all the difference in the world. Continue reading

Comfortably Numb

Yesterday, I picked up a bargain at a Record & CD Fair: an old vinyl copy of Pink Floyd‘s The Wall for 38. Considering it’s a double album, that’s not such a bad deal. The second-most famous song on the album is probably “Comfortably Numb.” Listening to it last night reminded me of how odd that word comfortably sounds… Continue reading

Hello Europe!

This evening I was at my parents’ house, watching a little TV after Sunday dinner. I don’t really watch much TV anymore, at least not in the conventional broadcast sense, apart from Sunday afternoons at home. Gaelic football matches are the usual background noise to Sunday-afternoon dinner, but we had it a bit later today, so I found myself watching an interesting nature programme.

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Robots in the Skies

This was a common refrain of my childhood. From my lips, anyway, for you might recognise this as a mondegreen. Anyone familiar with 80s and 90s children’s cartoons/toys might know that I was mishearing the lyrics to the Transformers cartoon. The line of course should be robots in disguise.

Which makes a lot more sense. I mean, that’s the whole point of the Transformers. They’re in disguise. They’re robots, and they’re in disguise. In my defence, some of them could fly, so my interpretation made sense to six-year-old me. Still, on paper, in the skies and in disguise are fairly distinct. Th doesn’t sound like D, E doesn’t sound like I, and K doesn’t sound like G. How could I make such a mistake?

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The English Language and Social Class

I’ve still been thinking about common mispronunciations since Saturday. While doing a little casual googling to confirm what I suspected about which mispronunciations annoyed people, I came across a post which featured some of the more common language errors that bedevil Americans in particular. They were all there: supposably, libary, literally, irregardless, aks et al. And I can understand why they might be annoying. If you say one thing, and someone else says another, that’s annoying. Even more so if the dictionary agrees with you. Getting annoyed is ok, but are such errors really a sign of the death of the English language?

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