Tuesday, August 14, 2007

And Sometimes Y

Rick here.

I will readily admit that I'm a radio junkie. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact of when I spent my formative years (late '50s). There wasn't a lot on TV in those days, even in the New York City area, and my parents limited the time we spent in front of the boob tube. I had a small transistor radio and used to secretly lie in bed at night, the little earphone in my left ear, listening to Gene Sheppard, Oscar Brand and Murray the K until I fell asleep. Anyhow, I've always loved radio.

So now, living in Canada as I do, I'm a confirmed CBC Radio addict. Some of the programming they have on weekends is particularly good, and my favorite of those shows is "And Sometimes Y".

This show is all about letters and groups of letters -- better known as "words" -- and I find it utterly fascinating. Yeah, yeah, I'm a writer. I SHOULD find this sort of stuff interesting, but I think that anyone with an inquiring mind would enjoy it and get something out of it. Two shows in particular have been outstanding. The first is about letters, how they came about, what they represent pictorially and about letter that "didn't make the cut".

Many of you are probably familiar with the letter known as "thorn". This one looks like a "y" with a curlicue on the front. It stood for the sound "th" as in the word "thorn". A ghost of it is still around when you see business' known by names like Ye Olde Pie Shoppe. In Early and Middle English, this was actually the way "the" was spelled. Anyway, rather than have me give you all the info in this blog entry, you can go to the official website of this show and hear it for yourself (they do a far better job than I can hear):

http://www.cbc.ca/andsometimesy/pastshows.html?episode10

The second show that I found really fascinating was one dealing with punctuation. This is an area in which our language is very much in flux, and a lot of it is due to bad usage. To my mind, ost mortals don't know how to use punctuation correctly. When mistakes actually get into print, others look at it and figure that the bad usage must be correct because it's in print. You get sort of a punctuation vortex as English culture around the world starts going down the communications drain. Anyway, this is a fascinating show (and I don't agree with everything that's said in it), but if you love language it's a must:

http://www.cbc.ca/andsometimesy/pastshows.html?episode18

Now I'm going to listen to the Blue Jays game. And I do mean listen. Only the radio will do for baseball.

2 comments:

Jared said...

Hear, hear. I miss Tom Cheek, but Jerry Howarth is like a good friend that I have one-way conversations with.

Rick Blechta said...

I can't tell you how much I miss Tom. To me he was not only the voice of the Blue Jays, he was the voice of summer. Every year, I'd wait for that first broadcast from Spring Training. As soon as Tom signed on, I already began feeling warmer and more hopeful.

Not only that, he called a damn fine game.

Jerry's a damn fine broadcaster and does a great job, but Tom had a little something that Jerry lacks.