Another week that was
As we prepare to mark off the third week of November and brace ourselves for the holiday looming ahead, some unfinished business.
Here’s a dispatch from Barbara Phillips Long, one of my informants:
From an AP story about “Amazing Grace”: Handel's "Alleluia Chorus," a rival to "Amazing Grace" as a spiritual favorite, has been recorded about 500 times, far fewer than "Amazing Grace."
From (and other locations too numerous to mention):
I can find plenty of Google references to the Hallelujah Chorus, but none to the Alleluia.
What I also noticed, trolling through this Yahoo post, is that they had a lot of links, possibly from automated software, but Handel’s putative chorus had no link. Of course, the link to “thou art” from the song title “How Great Thou Art,” was to a Romeo and Juliet reference. (I revise my stand -- definitely automated software.) Apparently the automated software doesn’t recognize the function of quotation marks, either. All the links except the one to Judy Collins are useless. The links at John Newton’s name lead the reader to information about Olivia Newton-John.
So much for the link economy creating value – in this case it created trash. Yet another reason to have a copy editor look at this piece after it was written AND after the links were put in.
My own response:
As we often say down here at the plant, you can’t spell crap without AP. I’m not sure what kinds of “research” [scare quotes are deliberate] went into this opus, but when I looked at Amazon.com, there appeared to be more than a thousand recordings of Messiah alone, not to mention that many recordings in which the “Hallelujah Chorus” appears as a separate element.
And no, no one appears to be editing this stuff.
Another purblind peever:
Professor Geoffrey K. Pullum has trained a full battery on one Simon Heffer, a drudge at The Daily Telegraph who has published a book, Strictly English: The Correct Way to Write… and Why It Matters, purporting to instruct us in the proper use of English. The barrage is here:
You will note that Professor Pullum is not unrelievedly negative: “I know that a few tender souls will feel that there must be something good in everything, and that I really shouldn't be so negative. So I will say one favorable thing about the book. Holding it in my hands did not make my skin erupt in a horrible disfiguring disease. There. I'm done. Don't tell me I don't know how to be fair and balanced.”
Now we have a new standard by which to evaluate books on usage: whether they give us a rash.
There is a link at Language Log to a somewhat more restrained but still thorough demolition job by David Crystal, and a comment draws attention to a review by in the Guardian by Stephen Poole, who wickedly suggests that Mr. Heffer’s book is a satire on prescriptivism, exposing its folly by fatuous overstatements and glaring inconsistencies.