March 1, 2007

Pearls before Swine cartoon

The Louisville Courier-Journal is running a new daily cartoon called Pearls before Swine. I've been uncertain about its staying power until yesterday, which showed the pig character explaining to the mouse character why the alphabet is arranged so oddly on keyboards. The answer? Because when they were arranged in other ways, typists' fingers moved so fast that typewriter keys jammed. The mouse, hearing the explanation, replies, "It's a wonder you don't get more dates."
The pig's statement made me think of the Great Vowel Shift, one of my favorite historical events. In the space of a few decades, the pronunciations of vowels in Europe and England changed, BOOM, just like that. The reason? Historians and linguists still don't know. So if you've been wondering why Chaucer's vowels are pronounced differently from Shakespeare's, you now have the answer.
The mouse's statement reminded me of the time I told one of my daughters that I love my beau's vocabulary.
"Mama," she said, "I don't mean anything ugly by this, but you're a nerd."

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