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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Language evolution 

I'm currently reading The Annotated Alice: The Definitive version. It's been a while since I read any version of Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass and even longer since I have read anything with annotations.

I have to say I am a little disturbed by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's (Lewis Carroll's real name) preoccupation with little girls. It was allegedly non-sexual but, nevertheless, it doesn't feel right as I am reading about it.

My favourite singer, Jill Sobule, referred to this in her song, Heroes. I hope she won't mind if I quote her:

Heard Babe Ruth was full of malice
Lewis Carroll I'm sure did Alice
Plato in the cave with those very young boys

Anyhow, reading it academically, I was able to move on to the story, which seems greatly different to the one I read. I think that version must have been very heavily abridged.

One other thing that I'm finding rather jarring (and the original reason for this post before I distracted myself) is the archaic versions of can't and shan't that pervades the book. The versions in vogue then were ca'n't and sha'n't. I know it's only an extra apostrophe but I'm surprised the language has moved on so quickly. No doubt the cants that are already littering our language will become vogue in not that many years in the future.

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