I know what you might be thinking, rather pretentious title, right? Possibly, but in this case, there’s little pretending. A couple of language related stories have genuinely made me laugh hard this week. Solitary activities rarely produce intense laughter. Twice this week, I have been overwhelmed by belly laughs, with no one around to hear them. If you can, share these with someone else, and see if you both laugh too. I’d bet on it.
One feature on Wednesday’s Radio 2 Drivetime, was about the umlaut (¨). I know, it doesn’t sound totally, immediately hilarious. Patience, young linguistic grasshoppers. On the show, Simon Mayo and the Drivetime team interview Professor Rüdiger Görner, Director of the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations at Queen Mary’s University in London.
Here is Simon Mayo looking like a comedic radio presenter should- a little bit cynical.
Image from the Radio 2 Drivetime website.
After discussing issues of origin, purpose and pronunciation, the subject turns to more important matters. Specifically, how metal bands like Mötorhead, Mötley Crue, Blue Öyster Cult and Spinal Tap use umlauts and how we should actually pronounce their names. Listen and learn:
Play with the iplayer between 20:24-25:19, though all Mayo's work is worth a listen.
The other piece that I thought was fantastic was The Sunday Times’ official ‘Dud of the Week.’ According to Dan Cairns, this was the Superheavy album. This is the unfortunate new project from Dave Stewart of The Pet Shop Boys, Joss Stone, Ziggy Marley (so far, so bad) and (ahem) Mick Jagger.
Superheavy, looking cool at their Superheaviest. Maybe the blurriness of the photo will only increase their mystique.
Image from livelyindepthmuscient.com .
Supergroup? Not quite. Marley begins the album by emphasising how intensely super and heavy the group is. Say the following in your best Jamaican, dance hall guy voice:
'“Massive, large amount, you understand? Excess heaviness, heaviest, heaviest title holder.”' Cairns notes how: 'Then the doubts begin to surface. “Heavyweight contenders,” [Marley] continues, “you understand?”'
Cairns explains how it is a ‘flaccid hybrid of reggae, country and soul.…Superheavy? Superdiabolical.’ One can imagine.