Pixel Scroll 3/6/20 Heavy Water, Holy Water, And Flit

(1) AMAZING STORIES BUS STOP AD. Seen in New York City. Photo courtesy of von DImpleheimer.

(2) ON THE AIR. And the show is now with us. Steve Davidson’s post “Amazing Stories TV Show Debuts” (BEWARE SPOILERS) delivers this assessment:

…All in all – production values are what you would expect, the story is in line with the target the show has always sought (families watching and sharing together) and the theme is marginally SFnal, (though time travel afficianados will have plenty to talk about) and my overall conclusions are: time was not wasted watching this episode and we ought to stick with the show to see how it develops.

(3) IAFA SAYS IT MUST MEET TO SURVIVE. International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts 41 will be held March 18-21, however, the organizers are making some new options available: “ICFA 41: COVID-19, Cancellations, and Credits/Refunds”.

As a result of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the news about COVID-19, the IAFA board would like to take this opportunity to issue an update on ICFA 41.

The conference will meet.

We have to meet certain guaranteed minimums for room occupancy, food and beverage expenditures, etc., specified in our contract with the hotel, or pay out of pocket. It is not an exaggeration to say that cancellation would jeopardize the very existence of the IAFA.

The first concern of the board members is members’ safety and well-being. We urge IAFA members to proactively research COVID-19 and consult status reports through reputable sources such as the World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/), and the Florida department of health (http://www.floridahealth.gov/), whose websites are continually updated. We would also advise checking for updates with your travel provider and travel insurer.

…Because of the extraordinary circumstances, we are crediting registration for those who cancel as a result of the outbreak. This credit must be used within 2 years. We will provide refunds to people from countries under travel restrictions. Because we are required to have final numbers for rooms and meals to the hotel a week before the conference, we will provide credits or refunds only to people who cancel by 5p EST on March 9, 2020.

…The board is discussing a number of ways to make it possible for people not able to attend physically but who wish to have their work included in some way to do so. We will make an official announcement before the March 9 deadline.

More details at the link.

(4) FRANK HERBERT ON CORONAVIRUS. Or so the people tweeting it around have captioned this rewritten chart —

(5) PIXAR’S LATEST. Leonard Maltin applauds a new release: “Pixar Scores With Heartfelt ‘Onward’”.

Like the best Pixar and Disney animated films, this one supplies rooting interest in its heroes from the very start. We want them to succeed because we care about them and their quest. Who wouldn’t want to be reunited with a loved one, especially when his absence has left a void in their lives?

(6) SLOW START. NPR’s Glen Weldon reviews “‘Onward’: Timid Teen On A Mythic Quest For Elf-Assurance”.

In the opening minutes of Disney/Pixar’s Onward, we are met with various manifestations of loss.

There’s the film’s setting, a world where magic once flourished, and with it, pixies, unicorns, pegasi, elves, ogres, centaurs, mermaids — your standard-issue high-fantasy mythofaunic biome. But even here, in a gimmick the film leans into juuuuust enough, the Industrial Revolution arrived. As automation increased, magic faded. Elves still live in giant toadstools, but said toadstools are now rigidly apportioned into vast, Spielberg-suburban subdivisions and cul-de-sacs. Once-splendid unicorns have gone feral, raiding raid trash cans and hissing at passers-by like peculiarly horsey raccoons. If Middle-Earth had more strip-malls, it’d look something like this.

There’s also the loss experienced by the elf-family at the film’s center: mom Laurel (voiced by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her two sons — the younger, anxious Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and his older, buff, RPG-obsessed brother Barley (Chris Pratt, squarely back in Andy Dwyer mode). It’s Ian’s 16th birthday, and he’s given a gift left to him by his late father, who passed away when Ian was too young to remember him: A wizard’s staff.

Finally, in these opening minutes, there’s still another feeling of loss that manifests in the viewer — that of lost opportunity.

The jokes are glib and smarmy, the family dynamics achingly familiar, and as we follow Ian to high school, his every encounter and interaction feels less Disney/Pixar and more Disney Channel — which is to say, too sweet, too cornball, too affected, too faux-contemporary. The average very young child in the audience won’t notice; the average parent will start checking the theater’s exits.

But!

On or about the 20-minute mark — not coincidentally, upon the arrival of a manticore called Corey, voiced by Octavia Spencer — the film seems to discover what it is: A testament to the remarkable degree of emotional expressiveness that Pixar’s character-animators can imbue into a story….

NPR hosts a 4-way discussion (audio, no transcript yet) here.

(7) PERSEVERANCE PLANS. BBC reports “Nasa 2020 robot rover to target Jezero ‘lake’ crater”.

The American space agency (Nasa) says it will send its 2020 Mars rover to a location known as Jezero Crater.

Nasa believes the rocks in this nearly 50km-wide bowl could conceivably hold a record of ancient life on the planet.

Satellite images of Jezero point to river water having once cut through its rim and flowed via a delta system into a big lake.

It is the kind of environment that might just have supported microbes some 3.5-3.9 billion years ago.

This was a period when Mars was much warmer and wetter than it is today.

What is so special about Jezero?

Evidence for the past presence of a lake is obviously a draw, but Ken Farley, the Nasa project scientist on the mission, said the delta traces were also a major attraction.

“A delta is extremely good at preserving bio-signatures – any evidence of life that might have existed in the lake water, or at the interface of the sediment and the lake water, or possibly things that lived in the headwaters region that were swept in by the river and deposited in the delta,” he told reporters.

Jezero’s multiple rock types, including clays and carbonates, have high potential to preserve the organic molecules that would hint at life’s bygone existence.

Narrated flythrough of planned route here.

(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • March 6, 1936 — The “Income from Immigrants” episode of the Green Hornet radio show originated from WXYZ in Detroit. (It is also called “Ligget’s Citizenship Racket”.) The show was created by Fran Striker & George W. Trendle, and starred Al Hodge as the Green Hornet at this point, and Tokutaro Hayashi who had renamed Raymond Toyo by initial series director James Jewell. You can download the episode here.
  • March 6, 1938 — RKO first aired “The Bride of Death” with Orson Welles as  The Shadow. Welles prior to his War of The Worlds broadcast would play the role for thirty three episodes in 1937 and 1938 with Blue Coal being the sponsor. You can download it here.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born March 6, 1918 Marjii Ellers. Longtime L.A. fan active in the LASFS. Her offices in the LASFS included Registrar and Scribe. She is known as well for her costumes at cons. Indeed, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 from the International Costumers Guild. An avid fanzine publisher and writer, some of the fanzines she edited were Masqueraders’ Guide, More Lives Than One, Nexterday, One Equal Temper, Thousands of Thursdays, and Judges’ Guide. (Died 1999.)
  • Born March 6, 1928 William F. Nolan, 92. Author of the long running Logan’s Run series (only the first was written with George Clayton Johnson). He started out in fandom in the Fifties publishing several zines including one dedicated to Bradbury. In May 2014, Nolan was presented with another Bram Stoker Award, for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction; this was for his collection about his late friend Ray Bradbury, called Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction. He’s done far too much writing-wise for me to sum it him up. 
  • Born March 6, 1930 Allison Hayes. She was Nancy Fowler Archer, the lead role, in The Attack of The 50 Foot Woman. Her first SF role was the year as Grace Thomas in The Unearthly. She’d be Donna in The Crawling Hand shortly thereafter. She died at age forty-seven from the result of injuries sustained from early on Foxfire, a mid Fifties Western that’s she’s actually in. That she made three SF films while in severe pain is amazing. (Died 1977.)
  • Born March 6, 1937 Edward L. Ferman, 83. Editor and publisher who’s best known as the editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from 1966 to 1991.  He also edited a zine I’ve not heard of, Venture Science Fiction Magazine, for two years 1969 – 1970). And, of course, he’s edited myriad anthologies that were assembled from F&SF
  • Born March 6, 1942 Dorothy Hoobler, 78. Author with her husband, Thomas Hoobler, of the Samurai Detective series which is at least genre adjacent. More interestingly, they wrote a biography of Mary Shelley and her family called The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein which sounds absolutely fascinating. Note to ISFDB: no, it’s not a novel. Kindle has everything by them, alas Apple Books has only the biography.
  • Born March 6, 1957 Ann VanderMeer, 63. Publisher and editor, and the second female editor of Weird Tales. As Fiction Editor of Weird Tales, she won a Hugo Award. In 2009 Weird Tales, edited by her and Stephen H. Segal, won a Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. She is also the founder of The Silver Web magazine, a periodical devoted to experimental and avant-garde fantasy literature.
  • Born March 6, 1972 K. J. Bishop, 48. Her first book, The Etched City, was nominated for a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. It won the Ditmar Award.  She is a recipient of the Aurealis Award for best collection, That Book Your Mad Ancestor Wrote. Both works are available from the usual digital sources. 
  • Born March 6, 1979 Rufus Hound, 41, Ok, I’ll admit it was his name that got him here. He also on the good fortune to appear as Sam Swift in “The Woman Who Lived”, easily one of the best Twelfth Doctor stories. He’s also played Toad in the world premiere of the musical, The Wind In The Willows in Plymouth, Salford and Southampton, as written by Julian Fellowes. 

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) BIERYOGA. [Item by Mike Kennedy.] If Worldcon, SMOFcon, etc. are looking for a new way to encourage fans to exercise at the con… well, it seems like a good fit for much of fandom. That said, notice the source of the article. — Funny or Die claims “‘Beer Yoga’ Is A Real Thing That Exists, Namaste”.

Although it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future holds, there are a couple things that are pretty much guaranteed to happen with each new year. First, we’re all going to make resolutions. Second, we’re all going to abandon those resolutions.

One of the most common goals we make for ourselves when January rolls around is hitting the gym more often, and that’s also one of the toughest things to stick with for more than a few months. Life gets in the way, gyms are far or expensive, and let’s be honest — working out sucks. Yeah, yeah, you get a rush of endorphins and you feel good afterward, but actually dragging your butt there and the entire process of exercising leave much to be desired. However, this year might be the year things change.

If you’re like everyone else on earth and struggle to hold fast to your New-Year-New-Me resolutions, look no further than Bieryoga….

(12) THE BINDING THAT TIES. NPR praises a documentary: “‘The Booksellers’ Speaks Volumes About Old Books And Those Who Love Them”.

As we hurtle closer to a time when little kids will look up from their tablets to inquire, “What was a book, Mommy?” much as they now ask, “What’s a record player?,” it may cheer you to learn, from a charming new documentary about bookselling, that while the middle-aged tend to play on Kindles these days, millennials are to be seen in droves reading print books on the New York subway. They’re probably also the ones ordering “vintage” turntables, and they may be driving the encouraging current renaissance of independent bookstores serving cappuccino on the side, to lure us back from Amazon.

The books being bought, sold and read there, though, are unlikely to be the kind found at the New York Book Fair in a gorgeous old building on the city’s Upper East Side: ancient tomes, some with curled and peeling pages, others gorgeously illuminated. The handlers of those books are the subject of D.W. Young’s beguiling film, The Booksellers, about the world of New York antiquarian book dealers. They’re a vanishing breed who, with some exceptions, regard their work more as consuming passion than as career.

(13) CREDENTIAL CAPTURE. Here’s a bizarre GIF – “Cat UFO Abduction”.

(14) FROZEN TWO. “Destination Uranus! Rare chance to reach ice giants excites scientists”. Tagline: A planetary alignment provides a window to visit Uranus and Neptune — but time is tight.

Momentum is building among planetary scientists to send a major mission to Uranus or Neptune — the most distant and least explored planets in the Solar System. Huge gaps remain in scientists’ knowledge of the blueish planets, known as the ice giants, which have been visited only once by a space probe. But the pressure is on to organize a mission in the next decade, because scientists want to take advantage of an approaching planetary alignment that would cut travel time.

(15) DON’T PANIC, I’LL BE BACK. Science Alert “Japan Is Sending a Lander to a Martian Moon, And It’ll Be Back by 2030”.

Sending a mission to moons of Mars has been on the wish list for mission planners and space enthusiasts for quite some time. For the past few years, however, a team of Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) engineers and scientists have been working on putting such a mission together.

Now, JAXA announced this week that the Martian Moon eXploration (MMX) mission has been greenlighted to move forward, with the goal of launching an orbiter, lander — and possibly a rover — with sample return capability in 2024.

For the past three years, MMX has been in what JAXA calls a Pre-Project phase, which focuses on research and analysis for potential missions, such as simulating landings to improve spacecraft design. Now that the mission has been moved to the development phase, the focus will be on moving ahead with the development of mission hardware and software.

(16) TRAILER TIME. Dreamworks Animation dropped a trailer for Trolls World Tour. In theaters April 2020.

Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake return in an all-star sequel to DreamWorks Animation’s 2016 musical hit: Trolls World Tour. In an adventure that will take them well beyond what they’ve known before, Poppy (Kendrick) and Branch (Timberlake) discover that they are but one of six different Troll tribes scattered over six different lands and devoted to six different kinds of music: Funk, Country, Techno, Classical, Pop and Rock. Their world is about to get a lot bigger and a whole lot louder.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Michael Tolan, JJ, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jeff Jones.]

61 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 3/6/20 Heavy Water, Holy Water, And Flit

  1. (4) This Frank Herbert version of the handwashing chart showed up at my place of work today.

  2. (4) I’ve seen at least one variation – it used Lady MacBeth’s speech.
    There are a couple of funny ones: one is “Wash your hands like you just ate banh mi with jalapeno and you need to scratch your eye”.
    The other is “Wash your hands like you sliced jalapenos for a batch of nachos and you need to take your contacts out”.

    Marjii also did the interior redecoration for Disposed and Communicado, the two restrooms at the North Hollywood LASFS clubhouse. One had Star Wars wallpaper….

  3. Yes, “beer yoga” is a thing, and lots of American small breweries have yoga classes bundled with brew. Rogue has come out with Sarvasana (I’m misspelling it) commemorating “corpse pose.”

  4. @3: well, so much for force majeure as a defence…

    @5 / @6: well, that’s one end and the middle heard from; toward the other end, the local reviewer said it was plastics all the way down (although he still gave it two stars, and I’ve seen him give a half star to a real stinker).

    @8: Welles looks remarkably un-Shadowlike in that picture; the fact that he’s smiling doesn’t help. I wonder why the advertiser thought his face would be valuable, since this was before he’d been in any movies — would the visage have been known outside NYC?

    @P J Evans: from vague recollection, Lady MacBeth’s speech would have to be severely edited; how many lines did the example provide? Other good ones for vigor (no timer provided):
    * Fabric/FIber: like you’ve just snarfed a bag of Cheetos and you’re about to make something out of white wool.
    * Political: like you’ve just shaken hands with the Cheeto.

  5. @Chip — That Shadow promo is not period; it comes from a later opportunity to hear the program. (Why else would it say “the 1938 radio show episode”?) As for the picture of Welles, that’s from 1949 — as Harry Lime in The Third Man (cue zither).

  6. 3) I wonder if, going forward, events will try to negotiate epidemic bailouts with venues.

    (I checked today: my plane ride to Westercon is refundable until 24 hours before scheduled wheels up. I’ll be fretting over that decision for a while, barring major developments.)

    9) Whenever I hear of someone dying due to an injury sustained years prior, I wince in sympathy. That can’t be pleasant.

  7. @Cat — Venture was a short-lived (twice) sibling to F&SF, 1957-58 and 1969-70. Maybe Andy Porter will tell us something about it; he was there during the second (Ed Ferman) incarnation.

  8. Wash your hands like you just finished inking the drum and are about to start slip sheeting?

    Wash your hands like you just got finished working registration and are now headed for the awards banquet?

    Wash your hands like you just left the skinny dip and are about to start making lime jello in a bathtub?

  9. I’ve seen “wash your hands like you’re going to embroider a wedding dress and just ate a bag of Cheetos” in the wild.

  10. There’s the film’s setting, a world where magic once flourished, and with it, pixies, unicorns, pegasi, elves, ogres, centaurs, mermaids

    If it’s “octopuses”, it’s got to be “pegasuses”, right?

  11. The sticklers always point out octopus is Greek so it should be octopodes. I hadn’t thought of pegasus. Maybe the original presumption was that there was just the one Pegasus.

    (9) It’s also Shaquille O’Neal’s birthday. You may remember him from his role as a djinn in Kazaam and a superhero in Steel.

    It’s also the Day of the Dude for those who follow the path of Dudeism.

    The Scroll abides.

  12. @sophie “like you’ve eaten a bag of cheetohs” that one is great!

    @Jeff Smith yes, I think the original ads for the Shadow Radio Show were from “Blue Coal” company,

  13. @Chip
    If I see it again, I’ll grab it.
    Meanwhile, another suggestion: the opening lines from Star Trek. (These are the voyages” etc. No requirement that you hum the music.

  14. @Chip
    The text: each line is one of the images in that same pic as the Fear one.

    out, damned spot!
    Out, I say!
    One, two. Why, then,
    ’tis time to do ‘t.
    Hell is murky!–
    Fie, my lord, fie!
    A soldier, and afeard?
    What need we fear who knows it,
    when none can call our power to account?
    Yet who would have thought
    the old man
    to have had so much blood in him.

  15. Meredith audio Moment before I catch up on the Pixel Scrolls and, blush, the previous one, too.

    The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow is the Audible.com deal of the day for $4.95 for another ~14 hours. (I guess they use Pacific time.) This has been nominated for various awards. The publisher’s one-liner is: “In the early 1900s, a young woman searches for her place in the world and the mystery behind a magical door in this captivating debut.”

    It knocked Bonnie McDaniel’s socks off! With minor criticisms, @JJ and @Contrarius also both recommended it (that starts a short comment thread about it). Those are links to the 2019 SFF rec post; I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a couple of other recs here.

    ETA: There’s a 50-page sample, link from the “where to find the 2019 Nebulas” post.

  16. @Rob Thornton: Checking a few books of potential interest to me, it appears the sale is all (or most) from Open Road Media. (That’s fine, just FYI.) But sadly, it expired last night, possibly before or shortly after you posted it. The says it expires midnight on the 6th and the several I tried today, on the 7th, are all not-on-sale. Bummer. I remember Open Road Media having mega-sales like this before, though, so I’m sure it’ll happen again. 🙂

  17. @Kendall et al —

    The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow is the Audible.com deal of the day for $4.95 for another ~14 hours.

    Additionally, as OGH already noted in a previous post, this very recently won the Audie Award for best Fantasy Novel in audio. It’s a very good performance.

  18. Okay, one bonus Meredith Moment, then I’ll quiet down:

    Starless by Jacqueline Carey is on sale for $2.99 from Tor (DRM-free) in the U.S. (at least) It has a starred “Booklist” review and the publisher (I presume) one-liner is: “Warrior Khai’s destiny is to protect the princess Zariya — and in order to keep her safe, they embark on an epic journey that will force Khai to confront his identity.” (The longer description sounds more interesting than that one-liner, honest.). The cover says: “Gods walk the earth . . . but only a mortal can save it.”

    In the 2018 SFF rec post, it was rec’d by (at least) @Johan P (minor criticisms) and Kyra (“no idea why this book works as well as it does” but “It was a page-turner I couldn’t put down”). I haven’t read this, but IIRC I got the hardback in the World Fantasy book bag when it was in Baltimore a couple of years back.

  19. @Contrarius: Thanks! Darn it, my search had pulled up the Audible winners post, but I forgot to check it out and mention that.

  20. Was the D&D Monster Manual (or some slightly earlier iteration) the first place to use “pegasus” as a generic term for a winged horse, rather than as the name of a specific winged horse? That might also be the source of “pegasi” as a plural.

  21. Contrarius on March 7, 2020 at 7:04 am said:

    There’s the film’s setting, a world where magic once flourished, and with it, pixies, unicorns, pegasi, elves, ogres, centaurs, mermaids

    If it’s “octopuses”, it’s got to be “pegasuses”, right?

    I’m no classical scholar but yeah, “Pegasus” is Greek surely not Latin

  22. Wouldn’t the plural of octopus be hexadecapus?

    ‘Pegasi’ is also the (singular) genitive, so it gets reinforcement from its astronomical use.

  23. People who insist on “octopodes” are not sticklers. They are people operating under the false belief that English words should follow the rules of the languages they were stolen from. This has never been the case. They can (because English is insane), but do not have to, and generally don’t.

    (And actually, while “octopus” does derive from Greek roots, it actually came to English via Scientific Latin, i.e. the Linnaean species name. So “octopi” is not as unreasonable as some might think. Although “octopuses” is the overwhelmingly dominant plural.)

    Not sure about pegasus but less frequently used words in English are the ones that are most likely to be regular (because nobody can be bothered to remember the weird exceptions), so “pegasuses” is, if not the currently accepted plural, likely to become so. Although Patrick Morris Miller raises a good point about the Astronomical use and its possible influence.

    All of which is to say that the world sure chose a weird, messed-up lingua franca when it chose English! 😀

  24. @ Kendall: Sorry about that. I’ll pay closer attention to the timeframe of the sales next time.

  25. OSC has a surprisingly tense and dramatic scene regarding the plural of “octopus” in Lost Boys

  26. Pegasodes?

    @Andrew —

    LOL. I liked that book, but I don’t remember that scene!

  27. More opinions than you ever wanted to know about the plural of “pegasus”:

    https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-plural-of-Pegasus

    Personally, I like this answer best:

    “There is only one Pegasus; in addition, Pegasus is a name, and thus as a proper noun would be pluralized Pegasuses in English, as people named Mouse would be pluralized to the Mouses, not the Mice.

    Unless they were weird. “

  28. “Code 7-7-0 PSF: Pixel, Scroll, File” (I just saw a bit of “Demolition Man.”

  29. @Cam —

    They’re not sticklers, they’re tentaclers

    They’re obviously suckers. 😉

  30. Kendall: With minor criticisms, @JJ and @Contrarius also both recommended [Ten Thousand Doors of January]

    It’s on my Lodestar ballot. It did not make my Novel longlist.

  31. Rufus Hound has also appeared in Zapped and voices the title character in Waffle the Wonder Dog. The latter is surely a case of nominative determinism in casting.

  32. @Camestros Felapton: Wut. Thanks, I’d never heard fo Chrysaor, as far as I can recall. The other benefit of his name is that it’s simple to add an “s” to Chrysaor without thinking too much about it. 😉

  33. And I just dug out my 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual (from 1977) and the very first line of the entry for “Pegasus” reads “Pegasi are found in remote places […]”

    (Kind of the same way that “Medusa” in AD&D was turned from a proper noun into a species name with the plural “medusae”.)

  34. “Medusae” has been used for adult jellyfishes for quite some time. (Which are also tentaclers, I guess.)

  35. I used to think that “octopi” was wrong and that “octopodes” was correct. Then I learned more about the question.

    It’s true that the word “octopus” derives from scientific Latin and dates in English from the 18th century and in Latin from the 16th. Does it follow that the Greeks and Romans never wrote about them? It does not. Classical Latin had a word “polypus” (from Greek words meaning “many-footed”) which covered both octopus and what we now call squid. The naturalist Pliny the Elder writes of “two kinds of polypus”…and in doing so, he gives the plural as “polypi”. If Pliny could write “polypi” then we can write “octopi”.

    My own choice is “octopuses”. But “octopi” isn’t wrong.

  36. @P J Evans: TFTI — it seems I was confusing the Lady’s briefer last speech (V.i.34-39 in the Bevington/Papp omnibus) with various greater verbosities of Macbeth.

    @Patrick Morris Miller: ‘Pegasi’ is also the (singular) genitive, so it gets reinforcement from its astronomical use. Is that true of Greek as well as Latin, or did the name travel into Latin unchanged (unlike much of mythology, e.g. Heracles/Hercules), or did astronomers simply apply Latin rules regardless of the name’s source?

    @Xtifr: All of which is to say that the world sure chose a weird, messed-up lingua franca when it chose English! Which of course didn’t happen — English just sort of oozed over French the way the British Empire (“established in a fit of absence of mind”) oozed over the world. OTOH, one can argue that a mixed-up language has fewer obstacles to becoming a common tongue than one with a pure lineage due to drawing from more cultures.

    @Joe H: (Kind of the same way that “Medusa” in AD&D was turned from a proper noun into a species name with the plural “medusae”.) I’ve occasionally wondered why the already-collective “gorgon” wasn’t used, but AFAICT nobody ever accused Gygax of being scholarly; the biologist may have been similarly ignorant, or may have wanted a word that could be hammered with a Latin-looking plural regardless of its non-Latin origin.

    @David Goldfarb: fascinating! So the practice of pluralizing Greek as if it were Latin has a long history…

  37. @Chip Hitchcock — Gorgons do also appear in D&D, but they take the form of metal-scaled bulls for some reason.

  38. @Chip: I just looked up the Greek, and Πήγασος is second declension. That’s the equivalent of Latin “-i”, but is actually “-οι”.

  39. @Chip

    English just sort of oozed over French the way the British Empire (“established in a fit of absence of mind”) oozed over the world.

    I’d describe it as quite the opposite. The major contributor of French-based vocabulary in English is due to the Norman invasion. English is an interesting case of a language which was put under invasive strain by a colonising, dominant culture but eventually survived.

    What happened to the formal and informal ‘you’ pronouns is a good illustration. ‘You’ is the formal and ‘thee’ was the informal. Because young Norman children were nannied by Anglo-Saxon servants who addressed them with the formal ‘you’ they grew up using ‘you’ for themselves, their family and peers. And the use of ‘thee’ slowly died out except in the north which was more resistant to the Normans.

    There are a lot of quirks in the language which can be traced to the impact of colonisation, including impacts from the Danish/Viking invasive migration. English was nicely set up after all that to be sponge-like and easily adopt/absorb input from other language sources.

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