A miscellany

A miscellany

The last week has been filled with much activity, though of diverse kinds that are hard to pin down to a central focus. Things have seemed to tumble over each other and keep resurfacing, so ] the same things recur but nothing actually gets finished off. The result is strangely dissatisfying, no items in a ‘to do’ list can be ticked off!

Until last Saturday I had no idea that the alphabet in English (that is, British English, rather than the variants that developed in other parts of the world) once had 10 more letters in it than the present 26. One of these was the ampersand – &. Some of the others derived from Latin, others from different sources; and with the exception of the ampersand, none of them proved very handy as the language developed. So one of the things clogging up my mind has been the development of language over time and what would happen if all of these archaic letters were to return. In a way this is connected by my still thinking about the Vindolanda Roman letters and issues in translation, not so much the literal ones but the fact that so much of their meaning is embedded in the context of their original writing and reading, and present-day translations have no means of getting at that. So I have a vague feeling of wanting to write another article about these letters and such issues. Then there is being haunted by Lady Anne Barnard and her waving a recriminatory finger at me because I have not finished the database of her letters that was started at the beginning of the lockdown period. Another haunting is by Mozart and Elias, arm in arm and cross with me because an article I started on the Mozart letters as used in a book by Elias was prepared for but never started. And yet another recrimination for something started but never finished and which really should be top of my list is book chapter on social change in South Africa. Something else in my mind has been whether anyone is writing about the surge in letter-writing in the lockdown period. This was the topic of an earlier blog and now I am struck by the fact that these letters have dried up. I have not received any for a couple of months, whereas in the first three or four weeks of the lockdown I have many such, so that my local postman kept commenting about it. Is anybody writing about this? Please let me know and then I will have one thing I can tick off on my ‘to do’ list!

Last updated: 10 September 2020


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