For 70 years, people in the Commonwealth realms and beyond sang God save the queen. Recently, some of us have sung God save the king. I haven’t had to yet. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I sang God save the queen, as it was replaced by Advance Australia fair in 1974. Being a moderate republican (note that a lowercase-r republican in Australia is very different from an uppercase-R Republican in the USA) I would probably decline to sing God save the king unless I really had to (frexample if I was in a featured choir). In fact, in fact, I struggle to remember singing Advance Australia fair since the opening ceremony of the 2000 olympic games.
Several days ago I watched a video about music in which someone talked about the use of repetition in music. He contrasted God save the king (which has no repetition) and Twinkle, twinkle, little star (which has multiple repeated phrases). But he didn’t use standard words (either God save the king or My country, ’tis of thee, but a parody version I hadn’t heard before. I thought that was semi-interesting but wouldn’t have written a post about it. But yesterday a colleague mentioned that when he was young, he thought that one phrase was
Two weekends ago our niece treated us to lunch at a Korean restaurant, for a combination of Australian Mother’s’ Day and Korean Parents’ Day (even though we’re not actually a mother and parents). We were sitting within sight and sound of a medium-sized screen playing K-pop girl groups. I got thinking, not for the first time (for example, the previous time we went to that restaurant) how indistinguishable most of the singers, groups and songs are. At least to me, but that might be because I’m a non-Korean man my age and my general unfamiliarity with K-pop girl groups. I could probably say the same about most current-day US/UK/Australian pop music. No doubt they become more distinguishable with exposure and practice.
A few days later I was listening a video of songs of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. One song started which I didn’t recognise but could tell that the singer was Neil Diamond. (Don’t judge me!) A moment later …
Sweet Caroline (Dah dah Dah …)
Oh, that one!
But I have no idea how the chorus goes after that, not even the melody and certainly not the words.
Anyone’s ability to distinguish any music or performers depends on exposure and active, repeated listening. (I tend to listen to music while I’m working, though many classical music videos come with scrolling scores, which I tend to pay more attention to when I’m not working.) Not surprisingly, I’m better at classical music and 1970s US/UK/Australian pop. Two years ago my wife and I were driving in the Blue Mountains. She turned on the radio and I recognised the voice of the presenter (who I know) of Australia’s leading classical music interview/discussion show. He interviewed the author of a book about Beethoven and his milieu and finished with a piece of loud and grand orchestral music. My wife asked me if I knew what it was and I told her Beethoven’s 9th symphony. She said “Are you sure?”. I said “… Yes”.
(A few minutes later) I’ve just listened to Sweet Caroline and realised that I knew the introduction/interlude and vaguely the rest of the chorus, but the verse is still a complete non-memory. I also remembered four chords and originally wrote (da Dah dah Dah).
Related to this is that list videos of No 1/greatest/favourite songs tend to play just the most recognisable part, which is usually the chorus.
For one or two weeks, a large part of the east coast of Australia has received very heavy rainfall, with flooding and deaths in some parts. My city has been spared the worst, and I’ve been working from home anyway, so I haven’t really been affected. But two of my choirs have started in-venue rehearsals, so I’ve had to venture out at times. Yesterday evening I caught a train to the city for my church choir rehearsal. The train I’d intended to catch was cancelled and the next train was slow at best and stationary for long periods. During the longest delay, the guard made several announcements. The first time, he explained that the rainfall and flooding had caused “de … ruptions” on the network, seemingly caught between delays and disruptions. The second time he clearly said “deruptions”, the third time “delays” and the fourth time “disruptions”.
Deruption is not an English word, though it possibly could be. But what it is about the word which makes it sound so awkward? After some thinking, I can’t decide. De– has a range of meanings including “privation, removal, and separation; negation; descent; reversal; intensity” (thefreedictionary) and rupt– means break, burst, and is found in abrupt, bankrupt, corrupt, disrupt, erupt, interrupt, irrupt and rupture (dictionary.com). Rupt is not a word by itself, but it’s not necessary that the root of a word is a whole English word, for example, decide.
In fact, searching online found two songs titled Deruption, which appear not to be typos, but searching for more information gets overwhelmed by results for disruption and eruption.
In a comment to my previous post, I mentioned spotting a question on Stack Exchange from a school music teacher whose principal had banned ‘all holiday-related music from our performances’ because one family had chosen not to attend. S/he later refers to ‘Christmas and Chanuka songs’.
From around mid-December, mainstream and social media abound with opinions as to the rights and wrongs of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’, which I won’t weigh into. These reminded me something I’ve had on my ‘ideas for posts’ lists for several months. A document referred to an applicant returning to his country for ‘holyday’. Not holy day or holiday – holyday.
Holidays were originally holy days, when most people didn’t work in order to attend church then feast and carouse on the village green. In Australian English, holiday now has probably three related meanings: a public holiday, on which most people don’t work but essential and service personnel do; annual leave, for most full-time, permanent employees, and a travelling vacation. I would not naturally say or write vacation; it sounds American to me, which Google Ngrams confirms. I would have to use either ‘I’m staying at home these holidays’/‘I’m having a holiday at home’ (some people use staycation but it’s still rare) or ‘I’m going away these holidays’. Because Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell on Saturday and Sunday this year, Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 were official public holidays. Most Australian businesses shut down completely between 25 Dec and 3 Jan inclusive, with 3 Jan being an official public holiday because 1 Jan also falls on a Saturday.
Some years ago, a distant cousin wrote and self-published a book detailing the history of our mutual family. A great-great-great-grandfather and -mother, a great-great-grandfather and four other children arrived in Sydney in 1855 and settled on the mid-north coast of NSW, with four more children born in Australia. Eight of those survived to adulthood and six produced large families, so this is the biggest branch of my family tree. (I might call it a limb or a bough but I don’t know which is meant to be larger.) I have just re-read parts of it while conducting family history research. Among other things, she writes that life on farms and in small towns was difficult, and childbirth in particular was
thwart with danger
I can understand why someone would mix up fraught and thwart – they are relatively uncommon words, they rhyme (at least for people with non-rhotic pronunciation) and the differences are very small (fr and thw), and both collocate with danger: fraught with danger and thwart danger. Fraught here is an adjective and thwart is a verb.
An online search found about 3,430 instances of “thwart with danger”, 5,150 for “thwart danger” and 2,580,000 for “fraught with danger”.
Fraught is from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German and is related to freight, both most basically meaning full of, fraught in a negative way (and now only as an adjective) and freight in a positive way (as a noun and verb). Common collections are fraught relationship, fraught situation and fraught heart, process is fraught, life is fraught, situation is fraught and system is fraught, and relationships are fraught, studies are fraught and lives are fraught. Thwart is from Old Norse and basically means across; as a verb, to lie across, oppose, frustrate or prevent. Common collocations are thwart God, thwart efforts, thwart attempts, thwart justice and thwart competition, thwart a person/man/child and thwart a takeover, thwart the will, thwart the plans and thwart the efforts.
Is ’e an Aussie is apparently typical. (I recently included a link in a comment to a recent post, and my number one commenter of recent times, Batchman, said that it didn’t work in the USA. Try here or here or here, or search for ‘Is ’e an Aussie Flotsam Jetsam’.) It features rapid-fire and witty rhyming, almost all of it to do with Australia. In fact, in the first rhyme, Lizzie tells her girlfriend:
Mary-Anne I’ve met a man who says he’s an Austray-lee-an
Tonight is census night in Australia. One question asks about our ancestry. There is a default list of the most common answers from the last census and a text box to type in any other answer. In the list are English, Irish, Scottish and Australian. Yes, my ancestry is Australian for 4-6 generations, but I think selecting that tells an incomplete story. Fine, I’ll select English, Irish and Scottish and type in ‘Cornish’. Except … I’m only allowed to choose two. So, either I tell an incomplete story by selecting ‘Australian’, or I tell an incomplete story by selecting and/or writing any two of those four. But which two? Numerically, my ancestry is more English and Scottish, but I identify less as English and more as any or all of those other four, to the extent that it matters 140 years after my last ancestors arrived in Australia (from England, as it happens). Maybe I should have tried typing in Anglo-Saxon-Celtic-Australian or Normo-Dano-Anglo-Saxo-Juto-Romano-Celto-Australian and seen if it would have accepted it.
Sydney has a COVID-19 outbreak which is very small by world standards but of increasing concern in a country which has had very few cases and no deaths this year, and very low vaccination rates. My wife and I watched the tv news over dinner. One report was about couples getting married today before the ban on weddings starts at midnight. The reporter said:
It is said that pr 1899, he and his colleague Bjørnson was invited by the king to a diner.
A diner? A small, informal, inexpensive American restaurant? I comfortably assume that’s a typo (see also the unexplained ‘pr’ earlier in the sentence), but it got me thinking about the word diner. Because of American popular culture, I’m familiar with the kind of eatery, but I haven’t encountered either the establishment or the word much in Australia. Either it’s a café or it’s a restaurant, but there used to be fish and chip shops and milk bars, many of which had quick-cooked food and booth-style seating. (Now, if anything, we have kebab shops, which are usually takeaway.)
In fact, searching Google images, one page is ‘The Ten Best American Diners in Sydney’, so the establishments and word exist here. Note that diners is (?has to be) qualified by American. Right next to it is ‘The Best Diners in America’. ‘The Best American Diners in America’ would be redundant. (Though I did go to a ‘Japanese garden’ in Japan (viz, a traditional one, not just any old (or new) one).)
Although TV Tropes explains the Shrinking Violet as “usually but not always female”, all but two of the real-life examples are male.
See here for a discussion about whether it should be ANZAC or Anzac (and also generally on acronyms and initialisms. The public holiday is officially Anzac Day. (The pub’s notice board has upper-case plastic letters.)