21 February 2012

I sentence this sentence!

"An Indian court has remanded two members of an Italian navy security team accused in the fatal shooting of two fishermen in custody for two weeks."
— lead sentence of today's BBC story India court keeps Italian navy guards in 14-day custody

Does this save it?
An Indian court has ordered 14 days of judicial custody for two members of an Italian navy security team accused in the fatal shooting of two fisherman.

What's your suggestion?

Have you also noticed that the adjectival form is hit and/or miss whatever, when it comes to the non-pukka nations?

Reuters should make headlines for their headlines.
Here are two beauties:
Mexico court approves Vitro restructuring plan
Lead sentence:
A Mexican court approves ...

Turkey court frees 22 after anti-government protest
Later in the story:
Police raided their houses and found left-wing tracts and pictures of executed Turkish leftists.
A related story listed below that one, also Reuters, is:
Turkish court agrees to try former top general
Anything goes!

In contrast, see if you can find the same sort of treatment for "America court".
I couldn't. Even the Times of India is — what? Old-fashioned, stick-in-the-mud pedantic?

But then, if you were interested in English, you would be brave to venture into the BBC with its
"Easy tiger!" lesson which includes "Hi Helen I like your hair." (Was the punctuation shot?)

Instead, I recommend S. Upendran at The Hindu, and Jose A. Carillo at The Manila Times and his English language forum.

"Next, make yourself thoroughly familiar with the various tools of English for putting words together into grammatically and structurally correct, coherent, and clear statements. Don’t be content with just being knowledgeable with the English content words—the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and interjections. You absolutely need to master the rules for using them, but always remember that they only work as carriers of the meaning that reside in each of them."
— Jose A. Carillo, in answer to "A letter from a Filipino freelance writer in New Zealand"

19 February 2012

Of frogs and eyes and pobblebonks

This has been the summer of frogs. This little tree frog was outside the window last night. Through its translucent skin, its heart rate could be seen as easily as the joints in its toes. On the veranda, two other tree frogs were hunting moths. When a dung beetle flew in, it was grabbed so fast I never saw the mouth of the frog open. But I did see the beetle dragged, its leg clamped in the frog's mouth, and the frog backing into the shadows. Was the beetle et? That will remain a mystery. The beetle was almost as large as the frog, whose eyes, being a frog's, were almost as large as its stomach. The gulp, with the frog's eyes pushing down the beetle—if this is, in fact, a frog whose eyes retract—would have been quite a sight.

Robert P. Levine, Jenna A. Monroy, and Elizabeth L. Brainerd must have many happy hours in their lives, due to their dedicated observations. They are the authors of "Contribution of eye retraction to swallowing performance in the northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens", in The Journal of Experimental Biology, March 15, 2004.

As to species, this is the best part of nature for amateurs like me. It gives us great excuses to buy guide books; and no matter how many we have, they are never enough. I can tell you with assurance that the frog above is not a Peron's tree frog, whose belly is merely 'smooth'. And I think that the two hunters on the veranda were Tyler's tree frogs, the larger one with the aspirational appetite being the female, and the small thin one the colour of a cucumber that is left too long and gone yellow, being the male in "breeding colouration". I hope I'm right, partly because their other name is Southern Laughing Tree Frog. The thing is, if this is true, then the female has been visiting on her own for weeks, pretending to be a Peron's.

But if only you could have been with me a day ago, when we both could not have seen but heard — a pobblebonk. Like some people, you don't have to see a pobblebonk to know it's unmistakably there. But a pobblebonk is a treat to hear.

And I highly recommend this dramatic feast for all toad lovers. This is one of my favourite passages in literature, so much so that I've made it a feature in my Virtuous Medlar Circle amongst the classics to enjoy rather than think you should have read:
Martha, Jane, and Babbette, a true story from A Farmer's Year by H. Rider Haggard

14 February 2012

A def of classical music?

"You can tell this man rarely listens to anything released later than 1987."

I didn't know that Jayaprakash Sathyamurthy is a musician in addition to being a writer of both commentary and crackling fiction (read his most recently published story, Run For Your Life, in Pratilipi, a bilingual literary journal.)

But in

Djinn & Miskatonic: the first three months

he talks gigs, sets, and is modestly pleased that "There were even a couple of people headbanging to our lugubrious tunes."

12 February 2012

The fountain-pen-mimicking hoverfly

This Micusfonsscriptus needs a refill

Since this hover fly (otherwise known as hoverfly or syrphid fly or flower fly, or—by most people, a wasp, which would be a mistake) mistook a paper on my desk for a toilet, I've taken the liberty of naming it with a name that is, I would bet, more accurate though linguistically inept, than the name it most likely bears in ignorance.

For who amongst the odd visitors here who have perched for a moment, doesn't love the feel and look of a fountain pen not made for people who love gold and glitz, but the pure pleasure of ink flowing from a pen onto a receptive sheet.

This Pelican needs feeding, too.

Of course, if anyone can put an official name to the beautiful creature above, I'd be grateful if not exactly thrilled. For vicarious thrills, see Mark Isaak's delightful Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature.

Medlars shower hails upon Jeff Sypeck

If medlars and gargoyles had bestowing rights (not to mention all of us including the ghosts of Chaucer, Seuss, and Carroll; all who value the fun, the pun, the music, the raucously empathetic life condensed to verse that runs over your tongue like a brook over stones—instead of Iowanic tripe or poetry is anytng you rit n cl potry)—Jeff Sypeck would be given the post of poet laureate instead of those who do.

Medlars everywhere are celebrating this jongleur's latest "Medlar song"—though some look a bit astringent at having to share the bill with another photogenic gargoyle, even though Jeff posted an excellent before/bletted portrait of a few of these stars.