Thursday, March 11, 2010

Parvum Opus 362: Set in Type

Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere



Herb Hickman sent another headline to serve as a punctuation exercise for the rest of us, from the new-to-me web site "This Is True":

NEAT TRICK: "Man Shot in Chest, Leg Knocks on Door for Help" – Dayton (Ohio) Daily News headline

Reminds me of the boy whose arms were torn off by a tractor, who then managed to get back to house without bleeding on his mom’s new carpet and called for help.

Herb wrote more on Grabberwochy, the WWII parody Mike Sykes sent (who’s mentioned, by the way, in Harvard Magazine):

I waited more than a shortened month [February] for some volunteer common tater to common tate some explanation of "Grabberwochy." [PO 356] None has.

I know just enough to recognize that this Michael Barsley wrote with some knowledge of history and of geography and of jabberwocky, so is presumably not American. [Slap!] But with everything else, I google it and find he seems to be American, author of a lot of books going all the way back to the events surrounding Danzig that he seems to allude to in Grabberwochy. Definitely someone I should remember hearing about, and will now have a big curiosity about unless and until I find some of his stuff and read it.

I don't even find, nor do I know, anything in depth about Danzig.

My German prof was from the free city of Danzig, a teenager and language student there around 1940. Danzig was somehow not considered actually Poland, as I recall his story, at least not by Hitler. When Hitler treatied up with Stalin and savaged Poland, young Ulrich and other Danzig folk were considered German (by the Third Reich). Ulrich was drafted into the Luftwaffe. He didn't have much of a Luftwaffe career.

But he didn't reminisce and tell of it to be telling war stories. Ulrich was a language student, and the stories were language stories. The main thing Ulrich did in the Luftwaffe was to get captured and held prisoner not in a prisoner of war camp but on a military base run by the yanks. Still just a teen-ager, he had some menial work assignments, in part making use of his English/German language skills.

At the base, the Americans attempted to control and direct the local Germans’ activities in large part through posting lots of signs to say you must not do this and that. A sign typically said in big bold letters, "DU MUSS NICHT . . . (blah, blah, blah)" Those were all language errors, but of course a little teen-age POW had no contact with anyone having the authority to make a correction. So when a sign said, "DU MUSS NICHT . . . (loiter in this area)", Ulrich would while away the afternoon loitering in that area. All he wanted was a chance to explain that "DU MUSS NICHT . . . " did not mean "YOU MUST NOT . . . " In German, the "nicht" simply nullified the "muss." What the sign said to every German on the base, was "YOU DON'T HAVE TO LOITER IN THIS AREA." And all those other signs just said you don't have to do this and you don't have to do that. If they wished to say you must not do a thing, they'd have to use the cognate of the English word "dare." "YOU DARE NOT . . . ," translated literally. "DU DARFST NICHT!" Alas, the yanks just looked at Ulrich as he insolently loitered in front of the sign that forbade that behavior. None ever confronted him over it.

He had to go to the U.S. and get a job teaching German for the Ohio State University, to get even.


A guy on Facebook said he used to be complimented for his honesty and directness, but now he’s complimented for his transparency: “No wonder cars keep running into me in the crosswalks.”

Funny guy. But I also saw (again on Facebook) “transparent” used as an insult. Sarah Palin was attacked as shallow and transparent, meaning of course that the writer can see through her only to find bad things. Whereas the promised transparency of the Obama administrative dealings would be all good, if it had occurred.


Larrey Anderson, in “The Pathetic God of Environmentalism”, noticed something I hadn’t thought of before:

Their god is vulnerable because of the "pollution" (most specifically, CO2 — a naturally occurring chemical compound) produced by human beings and our modern industrial society. This defilement of the atmosphere has caused (notice the gender used in the description) "man-made global warming."

Why not woman-made, I’d like to know? I’ve never heard even the most radical feminist complain about global warming being credited only to men. Or how about person-made or human-made global warming? (I know there was a flurry of concern about bovine flatulence contributing to global warming, but I think that idea has disappeared like flatus in the wind.)

Hath not a woman autos? Hath not a woman footprints of carbon;

is she not fed with the same inorganic food, hurt with the same tsunamis,

warm'd and cool'd by the same extremes of weather
as a man is? If we exhale, is it not carbon dioxide?

If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.

Jobs of Yesteryear

NPR has an interesting feature on obsolete jobs. Some of these are jobs I could and would do: lector, copy boy, typesetter. Actually, typesetters remain, but usually are the original authors of the manuscripts to be typeset, who type their manuscripts on computer. The typesetter just adds formatting code to the document file. The very first typesetters of movable wood type might be publisher, writer, typesetter, and bookseller all rolled in one. Computers plus the internet make it possible for anyone to do the same.

Incidentally, they say “lay type” on the web site. I’ve always heard “set type”.

Who do you say I am?

Johanna Markind writes about the practice of The New York Times and Washington Post in referring to Jesus Christ as Jesus but dropping the “Christ”, while referring to Mohammed as Prophet Mohammed. Does this mean anything? I don’t know if it’s a new policy, but implication is that Jesus is to be considered only as a historical figure; “Jesus” was the name of the man, whereas “Christ” means the anointed and refers to his divinity. Mohammed has never been considered a deity, but “the Prophet Mohammed” seems to specify “the” one and gives a nod to the sensibilities of Muslims in manner that’s not done for Christians. Or Jews, for that matter, since Moses, Markind says, is traditionally called "Prophet" or "Rabbeinu" ("our teacher”) by Jews.

Markind says:

The Times, the AP, and Reuters all have style manuals setting forth their policies about usage for proper names like "Jesus." Both the Times and Reuters manuals explicitly caution against using the term "Christ" when referring to Jesus because it is a theological term, "a title non-Christians would not give him," as Reuters' handbook says.

Similarly, the New York Times Manual of Style and Usage does not list "Prophet Muhammad" as an acceptable usage. It says only: "Muhammad. Use this spelling for the name of the prophet of the Muslim religion." Both Reuters and the AP Stylebook identify Muhammad as "Prophet," but neither explicitly states whether "Prophet Muhammad" is a preferred, disfavored, or neutral usage.

But it seems in practice the papers use “Jesus” and “Moses”, but “Prophet Muhammad”.

The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on

Unemployment extension shows government lacks confidence in economy

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The federal government has extended the period of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks. This is a bad sign for several...
Cincinnati does not need separate but equal languages

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Ohio was never part of Mexico, like California and Texas, and Ponce de Leon probably never got this far north....



I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and now also on for download to computer and for printing. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Kindle store and

* The Man from Scratch is about cloning, escort services, murder, and restaurants in Akron, Ohio, featuring Roxy Barbarino, writer for Adventuress Magazine. Novel.

* A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. ( only.)

* The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.

* Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.

* Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.

* Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.

* Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.

* Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.

10% discount on my Lulu publications:

Browse to:

Click "Buy" and enter 'BESTSELLER10' at checkout.

Save 10% on your order.


Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).

T-Shirts & mug: FRESH PICT, with two ancient Pictish designs

BUMPER STICKER: FRESH PICT, white on blue, with 10th Century Pict-Scot Merman Cross (blue on white also available)

SIGG WATER BOTTLE, ORGANIC T-SHIRTS IN GREAT COLORS, MINI-CAMERAS, DENIM SHIRTS, MUGS, TOTE BAGS, MOUSE PAD, TEDDY BEAR, AND MUCH MORE AT Parvum Opus CafePress shop: (NOTE: There are problems viewing this site with Firefox but Earthlink seems OK.)

NEW: Click to Embiggen boxer shorts

Eschew Obfuscation bumper sticker


Graphic covers of my books

Dulce, Utile, et Decorum (Sweet, Useful, and Proper), title of new collection of Parvum Opus, Volume I

BUMPER STICKER: Dulce, Utile, et Decorum

No Pain, No Pain

Star o’ the Bar

Veritas Vincit (Truth Conquers) with Keith clan Catti insignia

Flash in the Pants

If you're so smart why aren't you me?

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic)

I am here maternity tops

I eat dead things (doggy shirt, pet dishes, and BBQ apron)

If you don’t see exactly what you want — a particular design or text on a particular item — let me know and I’ll customize products for you.


Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2010. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

Translate into 12 languages, including two forms of Chinese, using Babelfish.

No comments: