Why Anglophones?

Sasah Volokh has an amusing post at the Volokh Conspiracy. He points out that speakers of English are called Anglophones based on the early settlement of parts of England by the Germanic tribe called Angles. The Angles formed several kingdoms in what is now England, but the Jutes also formed a kingdom, and the Saxons formed kingdoms as well: Essex (East Saxony), Wessex (West Saxony), and Sussex (South Saxony).

When the Danes invaded England, they conquered all the kingdoms except Wessex. Thus, only a Saxon kingdom remained.

Why then, Sasha Volokh asks, aren’t we called–Saxophones?

Mass Nouns

We’ve all heard of gaggles of geese, herds of cattle, flocks of sheep, and probably murders of crows. But how many know that the correct term for any number of cats, one or more, is a “surfeit.” Or a “plague,” depending on the day.

Or so I think it should be. My wife has cats. I have irritations.

The Comma Queen on Apostrophes

I’m old enough to remember James Kilpatrick’s columns on usage and the like.  His advice on apostrophes with words ending in “s” was to treat it as you would say it.   In the example in the video, most of us would say Norris’s car.  Since we would say it, Kilpatrick would have agreed with the video that we should write it with an apostrophe-s even though the word ends in “s.”  The video also refers to Greek names such as Aristophanes.  Most of us would not say “Aristophaneses.”  Hence Kilpatrick would have agreed with the video that we should simply add an apostrophe after the preexisting “s.”

My caution is that I have never seen anyone else set out Kilpatrick’s rule.

The Derivation of the Word “Ampersand”

The [term “ampersand”] did not appear until the 1830s when “&” was the 27th letter of the English alphabet. The mark concluded the alphabet with “X, Y, Z, and per se and” with “and per se” meaning “and by itself.”  This final phrase was slurred by English school children during recitation and reborn as “ampersand.”

This sounds like one of those stories that are too cute to be true, but for the moment I assume it to be accurate.

The Differences Between Judges and Justices

Bryan Garner explains that American usage varies from state to state.  In Texas, the presiding officials in the trial court and in the Court of Criminal Appeals are called judges.  In the Courts of Appeals and in the Supreme Court, they are called Justices.

This distinction brings to mind an old joke among Texas lawyers.  There’s no justice in the trial courts, and there’re no judges on the appellate courts.