Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Monroe’
- T.H. White
I love sports. Whenever I can, I always watch the Detroit Tigers on the radio.
- Gerald R. Ford
It’s not true I had nothing on, I had the radio on.
- Marilyn Monroe
As we settle into our Love Shacks for Valentine’s Day, we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that the B-52’s played their first gig (in their hometown, Athens, GA). After their independently-produced “Rock Lobster” became a demi-hit, the band signed with Warner Bros., where their official bio read:
As a group we enjoy science facts, thrift shopping, tick jokes, fat fad diets, geometric exercising, and discovering the ‘essence from within.'” When taken together with the assertion that the band was “found in the Amazon River basin 40 years ago by Professor Agnes Potter and subsequently abandoned at Athens, Georgia.
Still together (though without Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS in 1985), the B-52’s are widely credited with paving the way for what became “The Athens Scene”: a collection of local bands that, over the next several years, broke big (e.g., Love Tractor) and bigger (REM).
The ever-illuminating Jason Kottke dips into Statistical Reasoning for Everyday Life (Bennett, Briggs, and Triola; Addison Wesley Longman; Second Edition, 2002) for a measure of Shakespeare’s vocabulary. Using a method recounted here, the authors concluded:
This means that in addition the 31,534 words that Shakespeare knew and used, there were approximately 35,000 words that he knew but didn’t use. Thus, we can estimate that Shakespeare knew approximately 66,534 words.
Linguist Richard Lederer observes (as cited in in this piece) that Shakespeare hadn’t begun to reach the bottom of the barrel: there are currently over 600,000 entries in the Oxford English Dictionary (and in Shakespeare’s time things were especially fluid– as witnessed by the Bard’s own fevered invention of new words and phrases).
Still, Shakespeare’s facility is easier to appreciate in context when we recognize that the average English speaker has a vocabulary of (only) 10,000 to 20,000 words, and, as Lederer observes, actually uses only a fraction of that (the rest being recognition or recall vocabulary).
* Love’s Labour’s Lost I,ii
As we reach for our copies of Word Power, we might wish a glittering birthday to Anita Loos, who was born on this date in 1888. A writer from childhood, she sold a movie idea to D.W Griffiths at Biograph while she was still in her teens– and began a career through which she wrote plays, movies, stories/novels, magazine articles, and finally memoirs.
She’s probably best remembered for her 1925 novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Loos claimed to have written the spoof, which she started on a long train ride, as an entertainment for her friend H. L. Mencken (who reputedly had a fondness for Lorelei Lee-like blonds). In any case, the book was an international bestseller, printed in 14 languages and in over 85 editions. It was a hit on Broadway in 1949, then adapted again into a movie musical in 1953– the Howard Hawks classic in which Marilyn Monroe reminds us that “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”
In 2004, the British Council asked over 40,000 non-native English speakers in 46 different countries to name the most beautiful word in the English language. The top ten, from a non-native speaker’s perspective are:
Contrast this to the list of (native) lexicographer Willard Funk (author of the Reader’s Digest “It Pays to Increase Your Word Power” column):
(Thanks, Beyond Words)
As we choose our words with care, we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 Marilyn Monroe made Tom Ewell’s day: the famous shot of Marilyn Monroe, laughing as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent in The Seven Year Itch, was filmed.