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October 12th, 2006

Happy Birthday, kailucidricwolf!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

vernility
Servility; fawning behavior, like that of a slave. [Adapted from Latin] verna, a slave.
--Rev. John Boag's Imperial Lexicon, c. 1850


Columbus Day
Stratford-on-Avon Hiring Fair

Around this date each year in Shakespeare's hometown, a hiring fair for field and household servants was held at which employers chose their staffs for the coming twelve months. The annual contracts included many rules, most of which favored the boss. Thomas ("Onesimus") Cosnett's Footman's Dictionary and Butler's Remembrancer (1823) noted an example related to the use of unclean language: "If any servant shall curse or swear, and be convicted on the oath of one witness before one justice within eight days of the offense, he shall forfeit one shilling for the first offence, two shillings if convicted a second time, and three shillings the third time, or be committed to hard labor for ten days." Lady Troubridge's Book of Ettiquette (1926) explained the harsh penalty when English servants, who were typically paid once a month until recent years, quit abruptly: "A servant is able to terminate his engagement immediately by forfeiting his wages from the last time payment was made."


Also...

From mouser: What did YOU get, Charlie Brown?

And for bauske, from xydexx: The World's Smallest Pac-Man Game!

-The Gneech

Fictionlet

Greg handed the mug to Sharon, who seemed rather surprised that it contained hot chocolate.

"What's this?" she said, wiping her eyes.

"Cocoa. It'll help you feel better."

Brigid wrinkled her eyebrows. "Cocoa? This is your idea of a soothing drink? Don't we have anything stronger?"

"Of course it is," said Greg. "Alcohol is a depressant. Cocoa is comforting."

Sharon took a deep breath to clear her sinuses, held the mug up to her lips, and then was crying again. "Men!" she said. "What good are they? Bastards!"

Brigid and Greg exchanged glances. "So what actually happened?" Brigid asked. "I gather it was something with Thomas--"

"Don't talk to me about Thomas!" Sharon snapped. "Not after what he did! I hate him! I hate all men! They're all bastards!"

"Yeah," said Greg flatly as Sharon quaffed her cocoa. "Nothing but beer-swilling chromosome delivery devices. We'd be better off without 'em." Brigid shot him a look, and he responded with a resigned roll of his eyes.

"Thomas won't move in with me," Sharon finally said. "Not while I've got Ozymandias."

"What?" said Brigid.

"He says he's allergic to animals and can't live in the same house with a cat. The jerk! He coulda told me this when we first started dating! How am I supposed to choose between him and Ozymandias? It's not fair!"

"Wow, that is tough," Brigid said. "Has he ever said anything about it before?"

"Well, yeah, he wouldn't spend the night at my place; whenever we stayed together it was always at his apartment. Jerk! What am I supposed to do? I love my little kitty!"

"Seems to me it's obvious," said Greg. "Thomas has got to go. You said yourself he's a jerk."

"What???" cried Sharon, wide-eyed.

"Will you take a hike, please?" said Brigid. "You're not helping."

Greg sighed. "Okay, fine. I'll just go off to my bastardey room and guzzle beer, shall I?"

"You never guzzled beer in your life," Brigid said. "And besides, you were the one who brought that up, Cocoa Boy. Now beat it!"

-The Gneech

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