Posts tagged ‘Chris Hancock’

January 29th, 2013

In Praise of Rhyme

by Chris Hancock

An article to waste your time,

My paean to the joys of rhyme…

What is it about rhyming that is so satisfying to us? I did some extensive research on your behalf – that is, I did a quick Google search using pretty much the exact words in the previous sentence. I expected to find a wealth of information (with which to bulk out this article ha ha) but no such luck. The main theory seemed to be that we like rhyme because we like order in a chaotic world. And that rhyming was popular because it makes poems and songs easier to memorise. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason beyond that.

Here I solve the mystery,

Of rhyming’s tangled history…

January 2nd, 2013

My Top Ten Story Songs

by Chris Hancock

I’ve always loved, and had a fascination with, story songs. A story song, by my definition, is a song that has a narrative – a beginning, a middle, and a satisfying end – all crammed into around three to four minutes of music. Ideally, with a lyric that could be separated from the music and still enjoyed as a short story in its own right. We all love a good story – if you can fit that to a pleasing melody then, for me, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Here is the rundown of my Top Ten Story Songs:

December 26th, 2012

Rhetorical Answers

What wordnerd doesn’t love a little rhetoric? Rhetoric can be defined as “the art of making written or spoken discourse able to inform, persuade, or motivate”. It’s an ancient art – studied, developed and extensively practised in ancient Greece, where great importance was assigned to the power of oratory.
As wordnerds we love the power of words but – here’s the bonus. As different rhetorical devices were identified and classified, they were given names – and those names have filtered down to us from the ancient Greek. Glorious names, like Anastrophe, Antanaclasis, Auxesis, Bdelygmia, Chiasmus, Diatyposis, Hyperbaton…
read more »

December 11th, 2012

It’s Understood

by Chris Hancock

We’ve all been in the situation. You’re on the telephone, it’s a bad line, and you’re asked to say a name or some sort of proper noun that the person you’re speaking to won’t know but needs to get right. There are various techniques, each with their individual pros and cons. Here is my guide to the four methods of making yourself understood.

November 27th, 2012

Written in the Stars

by Chris Hancock

Many years ago, I got married. This was carried out with all the normal formalities, including a reception attended by family and friends of the bride and groom. Among the friends was a work colleague of mine. I toyed with calling him X, because it would add a veneer of mystery to this anecdote. But instead I will call him Harry, because that is his name. Anyway, the key thing is that he has a minor part at this stage – third spear carrier, if you will – but becomes a prime mover in the story as it unfolds. Now read on…

November 20th, 2012

“…in the Library… with the Revolver”

by Chris Hancock

Let me paint a picture in your mind of my early-teen self, brimming with youthful brio, inflating the tyres on my bicycle before pedalling confidently away towards the Public Library in the centre of town (population 90,000. That’s the town, not the library).

Railings outside the red-brick building were perfect for chaining my bike to. Unbeknownst to me or indeed anyone else, my bike lock was 30 years ahead of its time in that it had a 4-digit PIN long before they were introduced for credit card transactions. Given that the lock is now lost (or possibly has lain undisturbed in my Dad’s garage for at least 25 years) it’s probably safe to reveal that the combination was 3775. But don’t spread that information unnecessarily.

November 6th, 2012

2B or not 2B

by Chris Hancock

The purpose of this site is primarily the glorification of words.  But for the words to exist, somebody has to write them.  In this technological age, everything is typed on a multitude of electronic devices – when was the last time you wrote anything longer than a signature by hand?  In that context, some of the writing implements we formerly used are taking on a mythical, faintly ridiculous quality.

As an analogy, older readers may recall a popular record made by American comedian Bob Hewhart, about the introduction of tobacco to the civilised world by Sir Walter Raleigh. In it, Newhart (as Raleigh) explained the bizarre usage: “you take some of the leaves, roll them up into a paper tube, put the tube in your mouth… and set fire to it”.

October 23rd, 2012

Home thoughts from a Nerd

by Chris Hancock

People often ask me “Chris, from whence did you get your love of language?”

Fooled you! Nobody talks like that (apart from me, and I don’t think me talking to myself is of general interest). No, real people don’t use archaic words like “whence” and don’t get stressed about ending a sentence with a preposition. So what people actually often ask me is “Chris, where did you get your love of language from?”

Fooled you again! In fact, people couldn’t care less and have never asked me anything of the sort. Consequently, I am eternally grateful to That Word Site for providing an outlet for my wordnerdiness.

October 12th, 2012

Verbosity Slickers

by Chris Hancock

Chris Hancock here. Just for a change, I’m handing my column over to my twin brother Calvin, because he has a confession to make. Well, I say confession, he says declaration of accountability. He can be a bit pompous and grandiloquent – nothing like me at all – but he’s OK when you get to know him.

Calvin, it’s all yours…

My extreme gratitude, Chris. Quite so.

You’ve probably experienced it yourself. You’re in the cinema watching a classic movie. A character delivers an unforgettable line… and you hear a “Tut!” from the auditorium. You look round but can’t identify where it came from. You settle down again. Later… another classic line. This time a murmured “Tsk! Sloppy…”. And this time you can identify the source.  It’s me!  I’m sat – not with a huge bucket of popcorn and a drinks carton of “homeopathic” Cola (99.99999% ice) – but with a notebook and pencil. I’m writing down all the memorable lines and re-writing them to better effect.

October 9th, 2012

Read My Lips

by Chris Hancock

Wordnerds need no convincing of the power of well-chosen words. Nowhere is this more evident than in the search for the perfect political campaign slogan. And there’s no bigger campaign than that for the presidency of the United States of America. This time round, Barack Obama is putting his faith in Forward while Mitt Romney has gone with Believe in America. Let’s take a look at some of the other slogans employed over the years – some more successfully than others.

US Presidents can normally stand for two terms, so most contests are between the incumbent – who wants things to stay the same – and a challenger – who naturally wants things to be different.