out- looked out. Christmas is nearly ’pon us after a year more unexpected than the most suppletive of suppletions. A time, at least traditionally, for foul weather, increased energy bills, family fights and overly familiar TV listings, Christmas also boasts a linguistic dimension that is as much underplayed, under-
And Christmas isn’t the only intriguing term that the season offers us: the spelling of myrrh, as much as mystery as the Incarnation itself, has already been touched upon. Among the other contenders for an X-factor Xmas lexeme is yuletide log, which is most certainly not a digestive euphemism. But it may be the narrative elements of the festival that puzzle the most. Leaving aside the most obvious one, the literal Christmas story, have you ever paused to wonder why ‘good’ King Wenceslas had not begun the process of democratising his kingdom and indeed why there was no social security provision for poor men whose only chance of food was coming in sight of a bored individual with material means? The answer, perhaps, is that in any fair vote, the page, who clearly knows much more about the man than his pig-
There’s more! The linguistic Santa of Christ’s Mass (ah!, that’s it!) brings many a stockingful of language-y gifts ’cross the sky on his glittering word science sleigh. And if you’ve put some language-
Nomenclature enters into the bargain as well. What is Christmas for some, is for others the Festival of the Birth of Jesus; for those with a time-
Happy Holidays* from SpecGram!
† The proofreading interns suggested that ‘a double ⟨rr⟩’ is an ⟨rrrr⟩. Once we’d flogged them for cheekiness, we realised they might have a point. But as it’s probably just another case of reduplication, we simply re-flogged them.
* Including but not limited to Anthesteria, Bodhi Day, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, Dísablót, Dōngzhì Festival, Festivus, Hanukkah, Hogmanay, HumanLight, Indogermanischen Urlaub, Koliada, Krampusnacht, Kwanza, Malkh, Mōdraniht, Newtonmas, Ōmisoka, Pancha Ganapati, St. Lucia Day, Saturnalia, Soyal, Yaldā, Yule, and Zamenhof Day. In SpecGram Towers, we will also be celebrating Thanxmas, in gratitude for our wonderful readers and remunerative subscribers.