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Death Metal English

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The editor of the heavy metal website Invisible Oranges provides a guide to Death Metal English.

A couple of sample translations from the article:

Normal English: “Commuting to work”
Normal English: “Thanks for explaining the train schedule”

If the minstrel boy to the war had gone


A few weeks back, I re-listened to the Clancy Brothers' rendition of “The Minstrel Boy,” and it's been running through my head intermittently ever since. Stirring and patriotic in an enjoyably over-the-top kind of way. But one thing keeps bothering me about the lyrics.

The second half of the first verse goes like this, according to Wikipedia:

“Land of Song!” said the warrior bard,

“Tho' all the world betray thee,

One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,

One faithful harp shall praise thee!”

What's the problem? Well, “betray thee” and “praise thee” don't rhyme.

No problem, you may be thinking; just change it to “betrays thee.” And indeed, that may be how the original version went; a copy of the sheet music from 1895 says “betrays,” and that's how the Clancy Brothers sing it, so Wikipedia's version of the lyrics may be wrong. (The song was originally written between 1798 and 1852, though, so I'm not sure whether the 1895 version reflects the original lyrics or not.)

But there's still a problem:

“Though all the world betrays thee” gets the subjunctive form of the verb wrong. [Updated this paragraph and the following one a few days after posting, to clarify my confusing original phrasing.]

I realize that few today care about the poor subjunctive. But every time the song has run through my head in the past few weeks—and that has been a great many times—I've been mildly annoyed by this. When forced to choose between correct rhyme and correct subjunctive, which should one choose?

I suppose that another option is to take the line out of the subjunctive entirely, and make it a prediction instead, perhaps something like “When all the world betrays thee.” But somehow the semi-archaic phrasing of “Though all the world” appeals to me and seems to me to fit the general tone of the song well.

At any rate, I don't have a good answer. But I'm hoping that if I write this up as a blog entry, it will stop nagging at me.

Nothing Like a Dame

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Was just listening to bits of South Pacific, looking for duets (at Jacob's suggestion), and came across this excellent couplet from the song “There Is Nothing Like a Dame”:

Lots of things in life are beautiful, but brother,

There is one particular thing that is nothin' whatsoever in any way, shape or form like any other.

Who knew that Ogden Nash wrote showtunes?

(I know the lyrics are by Hammerstein. But don't they look like Nash could have written them?)


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Was listening to the radio earlier (KALW, the Bay Area's lesser-known NPR station); there was a show about 20th-century American music, and tonight's episode covered Oscar Hammerstein. So they played several Hammerstein-lyrics songs I hadn't heard before. I was tickled by this line:

I'd like to bask in

Your fond caressin'

You do the askin'

I'll do the yessin'

I see that that line was quoted in a book about musicals as an example of how awful some of Hammerstein's lyrics are, but I found it cute and charming and entertaining.

Rhyme of the day

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Watched Once Upon a Mattress last night. There were several good rhymes and other good lines in the songs; I especially liked this one:

My time is at a premium

For soon the world will see me a m-

aternal bride-to-be

Practically Lehrerian. Or I guess that should be Lehreresque.

The show also contains a bunch of good Encore words, but I'll save those for another time.

Oklahoma demons

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Noticed this line a couple months ago in the lyrics to "People Will Say We're in Love" (from Oklahoma):

Your eyes mustn't glow like mine

Has anyone done a horror filk version of the whole musical?

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