Archive for April, 1998

qq: You Say Tomato…

Everyone's heard of Quetzalcoatl, the winged-snake god of the Toltecs and Aztecs. And many have heard of Popocatepetl, a volcano in Mexico. But not everyone knows that that funny-looking "tl" at the end of each of those words is the transliteration of a single letter of the Aztec language Nahuatl. (My dictionary says that's pronounced […]

pp: Cold Attractors

By now everyone is familiar with magnetic poetry kits, the craze that's hit half the refrigerators in America. There are dozens of specialized magnetic sets: computer terms, words from Shakespearean love poems, Shakespearean insults, Yiddish words, proverbs, and the International Phonetic Alphabet, among many others. When I was first given a magnetic poetry set, my […]

oo: Coming Down with Noun Syndrome

Sometime around seventh grade, my English teacher taught us a set of mnemonics for remembering the parts of speech. First she told us to visualize a gigantic capital N, made of solid gold: a noun. Next came a pair of Ps for pronouns (I've forgotten the mnemonic here, alas). The verb was represented by a […]

nn: Secret Identities

"'We name our fondlings in alphabetical order. The last was a S—Swubble, I named him. This was T—Twist, I named him. The next one as comes will be Unwin, and the next Vilkins. I have got names ready made to the end of the alphabet, and all the way through again when we come to […]