What ? Dang !

Unicode 203D

What ?  Dang !

Okay, hands up, gang
If you’ve ever used
Or even heard of an ‘interrobang’ ?
You all look confused at the word,
And I’m not surprised –
Of all the useless punctuation,
This abomination ought to be the most despised.
But no !, the lumpy little toad
Is honoured with a Unicode
While decent, necessary marks
Are offered no abode.
These silly lexographic larks
With so little help to bring
Are only ever seen in fun –
I mean, has anyone
The slightest need to use the bloody thing ?
And meanwhile, I cannot succeed
To get the Question-Comma recognised –
Now there’s a boy whose time has come,
Who should be common, should be prized,
Instead of all this tweedle-dum,
Mine shows our queries raised at root,
Mid-flow, when the clauses overshoot, –
Not waiting till the line has passed
And a full-stop hoves in view at last,
To plonk our squiggle over, when the matter’s all-but moot.
Yet ev’ry font is pleading ignorance,
And claiming that they’re full –
Such bull !
So now my hybrid glyph won’t stand a chance.
But why ?, when they’d gladly welcome-in the clang
Of that bastard offspring runt, the Interrobang !?
Oh…oh yeah…
I guess I kinda coulda have used one there…

And yes, I did use ‘to hove’ in the present tense, and I’m not even sorry.

That said, Wiktionary suggests that it was a separate Middle English verb roughly meaning ‘to linger’ which became conflated with the past tense of ‘to heave’, and which also spun-off ‘to hover’.

Meanwhile, here are a few examples of what we we’re missing. Sort it out, Times New Roman !

War of Words

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War of Words

Our Z’s are zeds, our maths is plural,
Routs are rooted, herbs are heard,
And Y’s are added to news and mural,
Post and petrol are preferred.
And then, we spell things diff’rently,
Like U’s in colour, E’s in grey,
We favour biscuits with our tea,
And get our chips from a takeaway,

The trouble is, we’re losing.
These days, all the art we get,
The culture and the etiquette
Is blowing to our shores
And when we make our own, we’re choosing
Ways to make it more like yours.
We’ve lost our national confidence, I guess,
We seem to export less,
As our markets flood with Yankee slang
And though we tut and though we chide,
Our countrymen will each decide
To stop the war and join your gang.

These are the Beasts upon the Earth

Birds of the Bible by Catherine McClung

These are the Beasts upon the Earth

The Bible lumps the bats in with the birds,
And oh, how we sneer.
“A mammal is no more a fowl
Than a dragonfly is like an owl.”
But hang-on, none of those are Hebrew words,
So none of those appear
In the ancient texts – they’re our translations,
Sent back in time to new vocations.

Maybe what we think meant ‘bird’ to them
Meant simply ‘thing that flies’ –
And likewise whales are fish that swim,
And snakes are worms for lacking limbs.
It’s unscientific, so we condemn,
But that don’t mean it’s lies.
Their names did the job they were assigned –
So each to their own, hey, after their kind.

Sonic Screwdrivers

Sonic Screwdrivers

The English tongue is a toolkit
To unlock those very English sounds
In a well-oiled perfect fit.
The Scots and Welsh have tongues that sit
At a slightly diff’rent angle each
So’s not to mangle all those subtle bits of brogue
That abound within their speech.
Americans are yet more rogue,
Dismissing our metric metre
For their own iambic feet and inches –
They prefer their rhotic burr to ring,
With a tongue that sounds the sweeter
And a throat that swells and pinches
Fine enough to let it sing.
But none of we Anglophones are great
At sounding French, or Japanese –
We haven’t the tools we need for these.
And that’s okay – we still can try,
And even if we’re second-rate,
There’s no need to be shy.
The thing is, no two individual tongues
Are contoured quite the same
They vary how they’re ribbed and strung,
And where they set their aim.
So if we were to slur your foreign name next time we call,
It’s just because our tongues are curled the other way, that’s all.

A Qroq of Qraiq

A Qroq of Qraiq

Q’s without U’s,
You’re not fooling me –
You’re out to confuse
With your Q’s floating free.
But I know you’re trick –
You’re just swirly K’s,
With a kick and a click
To anchor a phrase.
Yet sometimes in French
At the end of a word,
A Q is what’s mentioned,
But K is what’s heard.
And Arabic full of ’em,
Inuit too,
With gutter and phlegm
To push the sound through –
Less plosive, more fricative,
That’s what it’s telling –
It’s purely indicative,
Snobbish in spelling –
For only a Scot could
Hope to pronounce it –
No Sassenach should,
They’ll mangle and trounce it.



OO is for Curloo,
U is for Duv,
O is for Swollo and Swon, my love.
M is for Emerald –
Pretty enough.
F is for Fessant and also for Chuff.
N is for Natcatcher,
K is for Kwail,
J is for Pijjon who’s bringing the mail.
I is for Ider,
R is for Ren,
T is for Tarmigan – ta-ta, my hen.

West Country R.P.

Francis Drake by William Holl (?), Thomas Hardy by William Strang and Arthur C Clarke by Donato Giancola

West Country R.P.

Ev’ry -ing is singing,
And ev’ry plosive plodes,
Arrs are round and rhotic –
But not to overload.
Vowels are never clipped
And haitches never drop –
Ays are broad and classy,
And glottals never stop.

The First Emoji

The First Emoji

Exclamations !
Provocations !
Explanations of excitations !
Some would say they’re overused,
I disagree.
Some I note refuse of late
To punctuate their poetry –
Not me !

Word elations !
Ejaculations !
Indications of stimulations !
The Spanish use them twice as much
¡ Caramba !
But are they just a crutch, dead weight ?
Let context state the mood and timbre –
Let our poems dance the samba…

Declarations without notations.
They feel as if they’re lacking, now…
Too calm and bland.
They need to somehow demonstrate
The extra fate at their command,
And make a stand !



Yes, I remember Egbie Corner,
A girl who made a strange kind of sense –
Let me tell you, before oldtimers’
Robs me of my stream of conscience.

I hope my memories will pass mustard
And wet your appetite for more,
And not be spinning an old wise tale
That’s just a damp squid of a prize pub boar.

But way back in the mist of things,
When we never knew what’d come down the pipe,
We were biting our time on tenderhooks
In a doggie-dog world that was oven-ripe.

My hormones back then were rabbits in head-lice,
Rebel-roused by mixing-my-toadstools fever,
When news of Egbie spread like wildflowers –
And I had to meet her to disbelieve her.

Cos she wouldn’t be taken for granite,
She was no social leopard or escape goat –
Yet to all intensive purposes,
She squeezed-out logical sound from my throat.

It wasn’t as if she were scandally clad,
But she stripped my tongue to its birthday suit
The response she’d illicit was hardly her fault –
But given her affect, the point is mute.

She had free range with her daring-do,
Which left me boggled-down and run through the mangle.
But cutting to the cheese – on the spurt of the moment
That night we learned it takes two to tangle.

Who’da Thunk It ?

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Who’da Thunk It ?

Verbs in English are really German
In how they like to behave –
Especially when irregular,
Which helps explain how give gives gave.
So when a Norman interloper
Such as catch is gadding about
Well, either its past sees it catched up in logic,
Or its sneaky imitation has caught us out.
The way they are is how they evolved,
And they’re simply something that must be learned.
Yet even today, the strong turn weak,
As learnt is ousted by the friendlier learned.
Snuck may have sneaked in recently,
But verbs have become less fraught –
Where once they flied-out and grandstood, now
Their work’s less overwrought.