Monday, 3 September 2007

Did you know?

That Shaw named the character Henry Higgins in Pygmalion after the co-owner of a department store in Peckham?

Or that the letter "o" in words such as "come", "love", "one", and "son" ought to be "u" but that medieval scribes changed it to avoid a chain of identical downward strokes that were difficult to read?

Or that the patron saint of booksellers, St John of God, is also - shades of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 - the patron saint of firemen?

Or that a parrot was the last surviving speaker of one South American language?

Or that the towns of Welshpool and Llanfair PG - the one on Anglesey with the 58-letter name - were both renamed by railway companies? (The former was originally just Pool, renamed to avoid confusion with Poole in Dorset, the latter was formerly Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll and was gifted its overweighted name as a tourist attraction.)

[ David Crystal, By Hook or By Crook: A Journey In Search of English; published by HarperPress on 1 May 2007; hardback, pp314; ISBN-13 978-0-00-723558-2; ISBN-10 0-00-723558-5; publisher's price GBP16.99.]

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