“It’s run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! This is an ex-semester!”

Well, almost (I know, I keep teasing you!) The title is, of course, a rip off of Monty Python’s brilliant Parrot Sketch. After reading essays for five hours (and a couple more hours to go), it’s about the height of intellectual activity that I can handle at the moment, so the best I could do for Friday’s Word of the Week is to find different ways of saying done! Finished! Over! Ended! Completed! With the submission of final grades over the weekend, I shall be putting the semester to rest, sending it up the river, kicking it to the curb, and, my personal favorite, putting the kibosh on it.

As far as I can tell, no one really knows the true origin of the phrase to put the kibosh on something. The most popular theories put its origins with Yiddish, Scots Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, and Turkish. It is generally accepted, at least, that it first appeared in print in London newspapers in 1834 and spread from there. Continue reading

Where do I even start?

As I slog through the mire of finals week, with seemingly endless papers to read and grade, I thought of how nice it would be to have some companionship in my misery. Zelda and Mrs. Parker were occupied with other things, so I thought I’d give you all the opportunity to share some of my pain. Aren’t I thoughtful? Continue reading

Never give in.

Say what you want about the man, but Winston Churchill knew his way around the English language. His speech was deceptively simple at times, showing that one can still have a rapier wit without resorting to convoluted, obscure structure and vocabulary. Take, for example, some of his more quotable moments:

  • Upon being offered the Order of the Garter shortly after his 1954 defeat: “Why should I accept the Order of the Garter from His Majesty when the people have just given me the order of the boot?”
  • “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
  • “Although always prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it should be postponed.”
  • “During my life I have often had to eat my own words and I have found them a wholesome diet.”

Since I’m not a historian, I’ve often found myself wondering about Churchill’s references, but never about his language, though to be fair, it’s not like I’ve actually read much of his work at all. Nevertheless, it surprised me when I found today’s Word of the Week in yet another Churchill quote:

“The United States is a land of free speech; nowhere is speech freer, not even here where we sedulously cultivate it even it is most repulsive forms.” Continue reading