Midweek open thread: punctuation is important

Greetings and welcome to our midweek open topic. It ‘s been a very long few days in politics where friendships were strained, however with good will; and a vision for the future; and a passion that this old world may it become a become a better place, it seems that we’ve all survived.

It has been pointed out to me that punctuation is important. Well not usually so, but sometimes it is. The one that comes to mind is the Cole Porter song:

What is this thing called love.

Clearly a comma, an apostrophe and a question mark is of utmost importance, as the sentence becomes:

What’s this thing called, love?

On the subject of language, and the intricacies thereof, one of my passions has been the evolution of the English language. The bare bones of it aren’t much more than a history lesson: the language which we now call English being a blend of many languages, even the original Anglo-Saxon was already a blend of the dialects of west Germanic tribes living along the North Sea coast – the Saxons in Germany and the eastern part of Holland, the Jutes, and the Angles, and northern Franks from southern Holland.

It has within all of our lifetimes that language has had cultural implications: French, being the language of diplomacy and romance; Latin, being the language of the Roman Catholic church; Greek, the language of philosophy and science and medicine. Added to this were many other idioms from native peoples including our own – Aboriginal words are in our everyday language in place names mostly, which give recognition as to who were the original inhabitants, words from the Indian subcontinent, from native American, Mexican words. There are so many words which we speak every day and yet we do not realize their ethnic origin.

Our borrowed words which are mostly from the 16th Century include: giraffe, tiger, pyjama, turban, chocolate, orange, admiral, parliament.

For those who may never have studied Chaucer here is late 14th Century English, from Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”:

I find this fascinating, that after all this time, with a little concentration and a little imagination that we can understand exactly what people all those years ago were saying. I do hope that our descendants will be as fortunate.

123 comments on “Midweek open thread: punctuation is important

  1. There is this one:

    For sale: R. D. Jones has one sewing machine for sale. Phone
    948-0707 after 7 P.M.. and ask for Mrs. Kelly who lives with him

  2. You can view the British Library’s first and second editions of the Canterbury Tales by Caxton online. There isn’t much punctuation to speak of in either.

    Had the great pleasure of seeing and reading the first page in their Treasures Room last year. Give me a book any day.

  3. I think that punctuation is very important I used to work for a bloke who never used any and it was extremely difficult to read his emails you think he would have had more courtesy when sending them out did he stop to think about his audience never he was the sort of bloke who would have been hurt if you brought it to his attention the whole office knew he was very sensitive wonderful person though

  4. Roswell

    I think that punctuation is very important. I used to work for a bloke who never used any, and it was extremely difficult to read his emails.
    You’d think he would have had more courtesy; when sending them out did he stop to think about his audience? Never! He was the sort of bloke who would have been hurt if you brought it to his attention. The whole office knew he was very sensitive; wonderful person though.

    Hows that Miglo do you think thats an improvement looks better I think

  5. I’m looking, or is it lurking?

    English can be a funny language. How can root and fruit be spelt so differently? Why not have froot?

    And why do we park in a drive way yet drive on a parkway?

    And how come we can have a pair of trousers but not a pair of shirts? They do have space for two arms as pants have space for two legs.

  6. Migs, perhaps it’s a set of tits for those who are considering starting a collection..as in, wanting to collect the full set. 😀

  7. Galaxies have funny names too. One has a strong sounding name, such as Andromeda. Why another one has a rather odd name, called El Gordo. Yep, that’s a fact. El gordo has a galaxy named after her.

  8. Hi Miglo, Min and all our friends on Cafe Whispers

    We all need to join in sending

    “Congratulations” to Patricia today, Patricia’s Blog site Polliepomes has been chosen by The National Library.


    What a great honour for Patricia in recognition of her brilliant work.

    Certification from the National Library:

    I am delighted to inform you that your publication is now publicly
    available in the PANDORA Archive at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-132006

    Polliepomes is listed on the PANDORA Archive at http://nla.gov.au/nla.arc-132006

    cheers Lyn

  9. This man is into researching his facts before publication, the media should follow his example.

    Greg Jericho/Grogs Gamut

    Sorting fact from anecdote

    But who needs evidence when there are newspapers to sell and tensions to inflame?

    At such time you almost wish to adopt the position of Mr Gradgrind from Dickens’ Hard Times where he says “NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life”.

  10. This man is into researching his facts before publication, the media should follow his example.

    For a minute there, Pip, I thought you were going to refer to my Indigenous topics. I shouldn’t have continued reading. 😦

  11. I certainly didn’t research my facts about where Port Adelaide were playing this week. I thought they were playing in Canberra. Sadly, they aren’t.

    How to feel like a goose.

  12. Pip. did you read the comments. It appears they are cherry picked facts. Well that side would know, they are experts at picking cherries.

    Funny not one produced figures of graphs to prove their point.

  13. Freedom to offend.

    If it were to win office the Coalition plans to change free speech restrictions in racial discrimination law. Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis says the changes would mean the removal of provisions that prevent the use of words that could offend or insult.

    “Offensive and insulting words are part of the robust democratic process, which is essential to a free country.”

    Why do I feel sick?


  14. Migs, here is what the SA legislation has to say..this is giving due regard to the fact that currently all States’ legislation mirror that of Federal legislation.

    It is unlawful under the Racial Vilification Act 1996 (SA) to vilify people because of their race by threatening to harm them or their property, or urging others to do so.


    Private remarks, light-hearted jokes, artistic works, or fair reports on racial conduct, are not unlawful racial vilification. For racial vilification to be unlawful, it must occur in public.

    That is, there is already a fair amount of leeway in what one can or cannot say..it is when it oversteps the mark that it becomes vilification, that being incitement to hatred or ridicule.

  15. A number of Federal and State Acts have been legislated over recent years to redress the disadvantages of minority groups. Equal employment opportunities legislates that people with equal probability of job success have equal probability of being hired. It is thus illegal to deny a person an opportunity on the basis of some characteristic that has no bearing on their ability to perform a job. Minority or disadvantaged groups have often been the victims of such discrimination. Under current legislation, an organisation is in breach if it denies employment opportunities to an individual on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, medical grounds, marital status, political preference or age.

    In accordance with the Government’s access and equity policies I am aware of my personal duty to contribute to the planning and implementation of new ideas, projects, products or programs that meet our client’s needs. Our clients, whether they are an individual or a community organisation, comprise a large section of the Australian community with varying and diverse cross needs. Effective relationships are dependent on valuing and respecting these differences and diversities. In modern Australia we have been guided by the principle of recognising and respecting the cultural individuality of people and valuing the contribution each can make to our society and work environment. It is simple, really. You can’t discriminate against a person and villify that person because of their differences. Neither do we wish to.

  16. Migs, as suspected this is to pander to Andrew Bolt and his accusations about “light skinned Aborigines”.

    I believe that should any future Liberal government decide to pursue this course of action that it would be challenged in the High Court. The High Court has, at least in recent times starting during the Whitlam era I believe, interpreted the race powers to be that which must be of benefit to Aboriginals.

    It would be very difficult for a future LIberal government to put forward a case which recommended being able to freely insult people because of their race.

  17. Migs @9.41am, the mention of those two words “George” and “Brandis” in the same sentence, perhaps. “Andrew” and “Bolt” wouldn’t help, either.

  18. I guess that the whole point of it is that Bolt and Brandis are talking about “their rights” – the whole idea that one should be able to say what one wants to under the heading of Freedom of speech and robust debate. This however denies the rights of “the others”, the people who have been vilified.

  19. We can expect some horrid language if they get their way. It’d by fine for Anal Jones to suggest the PM be shot or Bolt to call people Abo bastards.

  20. We hear of people suiciding because of bullying, including cyber bullying. I guess it’ll be OK under an Abbott Government.

  21. Just announced with some fanfare in the news: Clive Palmer, wealthy miner, is setting up his own “Football Australia”, because he apparently didn’t like the way FFA is being managed, or whatever…

  22. Pip, he must think he is a Packer. Lowry did not seem to concerned. He said he could not understand the man.

  23. Migs, sadly that has often been the case. At the moment our laws are clear, that vilification so as to incite hatred or ridicule are unlawful under the categories which you mentioned this morning.

    IF a Liberal government attempted to exempt racial vilification from Human Rights legislation, then presumably it would be still unlawful to vilify on the grounds of sexual orientation or disability, but not on the grounds of race. It would be a complete and utter mess to try to sort out.

  24. I pity the new people in our country who don’t originate from an English speaking background. They’d go crazy learning to spell words like bolt, fault or halt.

  25. Congratulations on your national recognition, patriciaw …

    A great honour … *clink* …

  26. Where did the dis come from? Why is there no gruntled? And if you’re not ruthless, does that mean that you’re ruth?

  27. Migs @5.50pm, agreed Chaucer was pretty lousy..which of course doesn’t mean that he had lice, although it being the 14th Century he probably did have.

  28. Jane @ 11. 01am and Min @ 3.19pm, this is going to mean one less platform for the Bolta to spread his poison.

    MTR teeters as cash dries up Clare Kermond
    March 1, 2012 – .

    Poor Andrew, Steve Price, Steve Vizard et al… oh, my breaking heart 😆

    Thursday, 1 March 2012. By Travis Kirk.
    Macquarie issues default notice to MTR


    Melbourne talk radio station MTR1377 is on the brink of closure, after Macquarie Radio Network issued a notice of default to its joint venture partner Pacific Star Network.

    In a statement released by MRN today, the company said it “will not provide MTR with any further funding under the Working Capital Loan Agreement” which sets out MRN as the lender and MTR as the borrower. MRN also demanded that the amount owning be paid immediately.

  29. I was surprised to learn that the English and German languages share three thousand words that are the same. Therefore, I can claim to know three thousand German words. Just don’t ask me which ones they are? 😦

  30. The Pitjantjatjara language has 16,000 words, btw. Ninety nine per cent of them are unpronounceable. Eighty percent of them are a mile long.

  31. Very tricky Roswell..I think that most 10 letter words would contain 4 vowels, therefore it possibly contains the letter y.

  32. And to really make sure you have a real Curt of a day,… THAT Grand Final ( Go The CATS)……….. prob think I’m a right Tony now…….

  33. Did you hear that folks… he does think I’m a right Tony…..! And talking of media bias, Miglo, as a “can ya smell that… dont worry it’s just the Port” (not the Patawalonga in this case) fan, what do you think of the constant oh, oh the Crows shyte in the Drabalaide papers… must be a rite curt of a feel’n to be so constantly by-passed in favour of the new Collingwood( the ex most hated club in comp.). Media bias at its worst (best), no worst
    P.S. To take salt out of the wound, my second team is ( whispers; Port, shh)

  34. Prefixes, so it seems, were applied randomly. I can be unhappy, but not unsad. I can be uninterested but not unbored. Odd indeed.

  35. Or deabbottise politics in this country.

    I’m wondering who had the deadliest stare. Dennis Lillee or Julia Bishop. At times the PM must feel like a pommie batsmen who’d survived some close lbw decisions.

  36. Would it be possible to un-prissy a certain politician?

    Maybe the PM has taken to bowling ‘yorkers’ 😆

  37. As a starting point to see how indigenous Australians survived on this huge island over the past 60,000 years.

  38. El gordo, it’s because Aborigines are extremely clever and intuitive in a way that the white fella doesn’t understand.

    Migs, being able to speak Pitjantjatjara might be able to give insights. It’s the same always, that the language gives insights into the culture which the outside observer cannot understand.

    The same as my example of Chaucer, you cannot know the people until you know the language.

  39. The last par of the link above is quite clear, the lower temperatures of the LGM meant less evaporation with wetlands and lakes in abundance

    ‘As well as lower evaporation rates, it is believed the rainfall regime at this time was reliable, the type of conditions that would lead to the formation of wetlands that were dry before and after the LGM.

    ‘In valleys in the Flinders Ranges of LGM age, fine-textured, well-stratified sediments contain the remains of snails, diatoms and swamp grasses.

    ‘This indicates perennial wetlands and slow flowing streams in places where at present flash floods following heavy rain scoured the streams reducing the water retention of the system.’

  40. El gordo, yes indeed this did happen. There are currently so many variables/environmental impacts that it would be difficult to list them all. For example, the impacts of landfill effecting wetlands and estuarine habitat. The latter is of course of major concern to coastal environs.

  41. Also, in the time before Europeans the rivers were more clogged-up with trees and the flood plains were enormous, retaining more moisture than now.

  42. As a starting point to see how indigenous Australians survived on this huge island over the past 60,000 years.

    Only to be within an inch of being wiped out by the Europeans and their introduced diseases.

  43. Looking at the paleo evidence its easy to see how they survived, by adaptation to changing environment.

    Lake Mungo was teaming with fish during its heyday and it didn’t dry out completely until full glacial conditions around 18,000 bp.

    Wonder if the people still hunted there during the LGM?

  44. El gordo, the gracile people of the lacustrine society of Lake Mungo lived there from 40,000 years ago to 15,000 years ago. There are two pieces of the archeological evidence I find interesting interesting.

    The first is the number of skulls that contain worn down teeth. This was from the constant chewing on reeds, which were used in the production of fish nets.

    The second is the constant size of the bones of the inner ear of a fish, found in ancient hearths where they were cooked. The consistency indicates that the people practiced gill net fishing, which allowed for the smaller fish to swim through the net and the larger ones to get caught. That’s why there are no small fish ear bones found in the hearths.

    The lakes may have been teeming with fish, but is didn’t stop the people from practicing environmental preservation.

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