"Inspiration and genius
Are not everything.
While Shakespeare wrote
The telephone didn't ring."
THE QUEST FOR THE PURIFICATION OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
by Richard Karsmakers
By now you should know that I started studying English back in
September 1991. During the first months of this academic career
already I found out I was making lots of mistakes where I had
naively thought none existed. I had been mixing up words, words
with the wrong meanings and wrong plural forms. I'd been making
lots of other mistakes, too, so it's safe to say that I had
committed blasphemy against what I consider to be the richest
language mankind possesses. I decided the time was ripe to bring
all that to a halt.
My purpose writing this series is twofold. Basically I hope to
make you all aware of English, and most particularly the proper
way in which it is written. Also, I hope I'll get better at it
myself if I try to tell you how it's done.
Rather important note: To many of you this column will be
boring. If you are one of these many, then quit now. Pressing F10
will do the job. In an attempt to make this column not *entirely*
boring, however, I usually add some fun bits too.
The perhaps somewhat serious bit in this time's column will be
dealing with odd plurals. I'd like to deal with them now so that
the whole plural thing, started in an earlier part of this Quest,
can be wrapped up.
I recently purchased a book called "The Joy of Lex", written by
a chap called Gyles Brandreth. When reading it I stumbled across
a chapter that was dedicated solely to odd plurals, hence the
paragraph name concocted above.
The meant chapter simply lists two series of plurals and
singulars, the first each beginning with a different letter of
the alphabet, the second each ending with one.
He claims all of these entries can be found in the Webster's
Third International Dictionary.
After this, Gyles closed off the chapter with a small quiz. See
if you can see what the plurals to the following words are (the
answers will be given in the next issue of the Quest Articles.
6) attorney general
7) lieutenant colonel
24) paymaster general
25) brigadier general
And I'd like to leave it at that with regard to plurals. On to
the next bit.
Now for some interesting bits in "did you know that..." form
...there are about 5,000 languages in the world?
...almost 850 of these are spoken in India alone?
...there are some languages that are far more complex than the
ones we know?
...Tabarassan, a language spoken in the USSR republic of
Daghestan, has 35 cases (German has 4, English I guess has 2)?
...Rotokas, a language spoken on Bougainville Island, has an
alphabet of only 11 signs (a, b, e, g, i, k, o, p, r, t and
...almost 330 million people speak English as their native
...the longest word ever used in literature is 170 characters in
length (in Greek), from Aristophanes' "The Ecclesiazusae"?
...the Englishman Edward Benbow once wrote the longest ever
palindromic essay, containing 80,000 words?
...the longest palindromic novel, "Dr. Awkward and Olson in Oslo"
by Lawrence Levine (written in 1986) counts 31,594 words?
...the sequence of characters in English, sorted from the one
that occurs most to the one that occurs least, is "e t a i s o
n h r d l u c m f w y p g b v k j q x z"?
...in Dutch this is "e n a t r d o i s l g h v m k u w p c b z ÿ
f j y x q"?
...these are all items of mild interest this time?
And to round things off with...
If you have some money left, there is a book that may be fun to
read - "The Joy of Lex" by Gyles Brandreth mentioned above. It's
publishing by Guild Publishing, 1987, no ISBN code that I could
See you next time.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.