The recent biblically proportioned floods in coastal New England have been as a miracle to area clams. "The worst shellfishing season in decades may have a sequel this summer, thanks to recent record rains coupled with wind and water conditions similar to what fed last year's ruinous red tide," reports our local 7 News. "Early this week, rainwater runoff forced Massachusetts to shut down shellfish beds from the New Hampshire border to Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay. At the same time, the state enacted a red tide closure of shellfish beds from the New Hampshire border to Deer Island in Boston Harbor." One clam's day is another man's empty clam plate. (Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market photo)
"No name has come to be so synonymous with "thesaurus" as has Roget's," writes David Crystal in his Opinion Journal list of "Top books on the history and use of English." While Harry Reid -- can you say useless idiot? -- would surely be apoplectic at the "racism" of celebrating the English language in the wake of yesterday's symbolic Senate vote to designate English as the national language -- or at least the "common unifying language" -- of the United States, we couldn't be more gratified*:
He has even become a common noun: I have "a Roget" on my shelves. Indeed I have a dozen Rogets, as his thesaurus has now appeared in numerous editions and been revised, expanded or abridged more times than any other example of the genre. The original was a truly remarkable work for its period, and anyone who has tried to update it or rework its contents (as I have) cannot fail to recognize the prodigious labor that went into its compilation. Idiosyncratic as all such thematic thesauruses are, it is nonetheless the best first source of reference we have for those many occasions when we are dimly aware of the meaning we want to express and are searching for the best word with which to express it.
Then there's The Use of English by Randolph Quirk:
This is the book that opened my eyes -- and the eyes of several generations of English students -- to the range, versatility and flexibility of the English language. The Use of English originated in a series of BBC talks, and the radio influence is apparent in the friendly tone of the writing and down-to-earth exercises. The book brought home the importance of always linking the study of language to the study of literature. Its range of examples, from both linguistic and literary sources, gave a perfect illustration of how the subject should be taught.
We were fortunate in high school to have had a number of English teachers -- Miss Wood and Mr. Friend and Mrs. Brady come to mind -- who would have been pleased as Punch to read Mr. Crystal's words today. He "is the author of more than 30 books specifically on English. His latest title, How Language Works (Overlook), will be published in November," says the OJ blurb. Don't tell Harry Reid, but we are "throned on highest bliss" at the thought of it.
Speaking of the out-of-control, misplaced use of the word racism,** we were horrified to read of Belgium's scapegoating of The Brussel Journal's Paul Belien's courageous voice-in-the-wilderness "crusade" -- yes, we said it! -- to save Europe from its death wish:
Following last Thursday’s Antwerp massacre, the Belgian authorities have announced zero tolerance for racism. Belgian journalists, lawyers and politicians (including Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt), say that I am responsible for creating the atmosphere of hatred that led to the massacre. Some people even demand that I be prosecuted . . .
Europeans have foolishly replaced God by the State as the one on whom they rely to take care of all their needs from cradle to grave. The religious vacuum has led to a demographic vacuum, because those who lose faith in God lose faith in the future as well. A civilization that has created a religious and a demographic vacuum is bound to perish.
The lights are turning out for Europe. If America follows Europe’s example Christendom is lost.
We'll bet it can't happen here. Despite the downside -- blogged here yesterday -- of a people who may not, as Voltaire wrote, "agree with what you say, but . . . will defend to the death your right to say it," this nation, under God, with the give and take of its balance of powers, will prevail as a shining city on a hill.
*863. PLEASURE ADJS. 12. pleased, delighted, proud [chiefly dial.]; glad, gladsome; charmed, intrigued [coll.] thrilled; tickled, tickled to death [coll.] tickled pink [slang]; gratified, satisfied, pleased with, taken with, favorably impressed with, sold on [slang], pleased as Punch, pleased as a child with a new toy. 13. happy, joyful, joyous . . . "throned on highest bliss" [Milton] . . . "thrice and four times blessed" [Vergil] . . . happy as a clam at high water [U.S.]. (Roget's International Thesaurus, Third Edition)
**525. NARROW-MINDEDNESS 4. class consciousness, class prejudice, discrimination, social discrimination, minority prejudice; racism, racialism, race prejudice, race snobbery, racial discrimination; anti-Semitism, redbaiting; social barrier, class distinction; color line, color bar; Jim Crow law; segregation, apartheid [Afrikaan]; desegregation.