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THE 27TH LETTER OF THE ALPHABET

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

Can you name the 27th letter of the alphabet?

Well, of course not, there are only 26 letters in the alphabet.

But not always; once there were 27. (Well, 29, but we’ll get to that later.)

The letter we’re talking about here is the ampersand: today it’s mainly used in company names, like Barnes & Noble, or in abbreviations like R&R.

It’s an unusual little critter. Where did it come from?

In the first century, Roman scribes wrote in cursive text, so when they wrote ‘et’ – the Latin word for ‘and’ – they linked the two letters. Over time, this was adopted in the English language as well. ‘And’ became both a word and a letter.

The name for this symbol – “ampersand” – came centuries later. In the early nineteenth century, schoolchildren reciting the alphabet still finished with ‘&’.

But you can’t finish ‘X,Y, Z, and.’ How could they sing that on Sesame Street? It doesn’t rhyme.

So instead, they said – because this is oh so much easier – ‘X, Y, Z and, per se, and.’

Per se, in Latin, means ‘by itself.’ So the students, or the Muppets, or whoever, were actually singing: ‘X, Y, Z and, by itself, “and.” ’ (Wouldn’t you have loved to have been in kindie back then?)

Over the course of a few decades, ‘and per se and’ became – “ampersand.”

Okay, so that’s sorted. But what about letters 28 and 29?

Well old English was first written in the futhorc runic alphabet of the Anglo-Saxons.

Christian missionaries later introduced the Latin alphabet which replaced it, and, for a time, the alphabet included letters of both languages.

But two of them fell into disuse.

One was a letter called ‘thorn’ which represented the ‘the’ sound.

Because the symbol for ‘thorn’ and the symbol for ‘y’ look nearly identical in medieval English blackletter, the two were mistakenly substituted for each other.

This is why you see signs pointing the way to “Ye Olde Curiosity Shop” in mock Tudor villages in England; we didn’t change the actual sound for ‘the’ over the years, just the symbol we used to spell it.

The other letter that was dropped was “wynn,” which represented the “uu” sound which became, as you probably guessed, a “w”. Yes, a double U.

So there you have it. Now you know your ampersand, thorn, wynn – won’t you sing along with me?

Pre-orders now available for my brand new novel, THE UNKILLABLE KITTY ‘KANE, published December 1 by Lake Union. You can get yours here: https://www.amazon.com/Unkillable-Kitty-OKane-…/…/1542048974

colin falconer

COLIN FALCONER

ARE THESE THE WORST 12 OPENING LINES EVER?

1. “She strutted into my office wearing a dress that clung to her 
like Saran Wrap to a sloppily butchered pork knuckle, bone and sinew
 jutting and lurching asymmetrically beneath its folds, the 
tightness exaggerating the granularity of the suet and causing what
 little palatable meat there was to sweat, its transparency the 
thief of imagination.”
- Chris Wieloch

 No? Perhaps you’re not into detective fiction. Try a love story:

 2. “As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, 
wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny
 deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum 
therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, 
causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the
 soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting.”
 — Cathy Bryant

 Not bad. But perhaps a metaphor is better: Continue reading

WERE THE VIKINGS REALLY HAIRY AND HORNY?

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

The Vikings: who were they, what were they?

VIKINGS, ICELAND, GREENLAND, SWEDEN,

SOURCE: helgi-halldorsson

No one seems sure any more.

They have arced from slavering thugs brandishing axes and erections to the revisionist view of them as Renaissance men with short tempers and an interest in gardening and travel.

Or there’s the TV series.

So what do we really know?

Well, let’s start with the obvious things: the horned helmets.

No, they never wore them.

They were first worn as props for the performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876.

They were much a part of Viking wardrobe as Mel Gibson’s kilt was to thirteenth century Scots.

VIKINGS, ICELAND, GREENLAND, SWEDEN,

The Vikings only used horns for drinking beer and blowing into as a means of communication: ‘I’m pissed and now I’m coming home.’

Not only did the Vikings not wear horned helmets, they weren’t called Vikings.

‘Viking’ is not a noun, it’s a verb.

Scandinavian men traditionally took time out of their summers to go “vikingr.” The itinerary for such expeditions varied, but the main aim was to turn a profit, either from trade, working as a mercenary, or raiding monasteries and unprotected town for loot and slaves.

Raid or trade, it was all the same to them.

Going vikingr was a summer job. Most of these men, who lived in rural chiefdoms in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, were villagers first, pillagers second and on their return they would resume their agricultural routine.

So were these Norsemen really that violent?

VIKINGS, ICELAND, GREENLAND, SWEDEN, Oh, you bet they were.

There were no sensitive new age Norsemen.

These men were not just warriors, they were very good ones. The Varangian guard of the Byzantine emperors in the 11th century was made up entirely of Swedish warriors.

But this was a violent age and although they were brutal, they weren’t especially … well, severe.

If history has recorded them as barbarians, it is perhaps because the men writing that history – the Christian monks of Britain – were the Norsemen’s prime targets.

The Christian monasteries of the time were unguarded treasure houses of loot and the Norsemen must have enjoyed taking it. Increasingly subject to Christian persecution and forced baptisms in their own lands, the sight of an unarmed monk must have really got the juices flowing.

Payday and payback all at once.

Vikings, Norway, Sweden, Iceland

SOURCE: viciarg

These men not only knew how to use a sword, they knew how to make one.

They were skilled weapon-smiths and made highly prized pattern-welded swords. They were also brilliant navigators, they sailed along rivers into the far reaches of Russia, as far as the Caspian sea, and may have reached as far east as Baghdad.

In fact, the largest body of written sources on the Vikings in the 9th and 10th Century is in Arabic.

And forget Columbus.

The Norsemen already knew about America. They reached Labrador and Newfoundland in the eleventh century and even set up colonies there – after they had already colonised Iceland and Greenland.

They may have been vicious, but these ‘barbarians’ also pampered themselves like a male model in a Bulgari commercial.

Vikings, Norway, Sweden, Iceland

SOURCE: tone

Archaeological finds have included tweezers, combs, nail cleaners, ear cleaners and toothpicks.

An anonymous Anglo-Saxon letter has a man admonishing his brother for giving in to the ‘Danish fashion with a shaved neck and blinded eyes’. Blinded eyes probably meant a long fringe.

So these savages had plucked eyebrows and reverse mullets.

No surprise the monks of Lindisfarne were running scared.

And despite the drinking, raping and general bad behaviour, it wasn’t all frat week.

The 300-year era of their martial and navigational primacy Vikings, Norway, Sweden, Icelandeventually becomes a story of immigration and assimilation.

The Norsemen started bringing women with them on their travels, instead of taking them away. Conquest became colonisation.

The Normans, who took the throne of England in 1066 were descended from Norsemen who won feudal control over Northern France. Even before that, there had been two Danish kings of England.

Once they settled down, they then gave the west its first long-running action dramas; the Icelandic sagas were the probable forerunners of … well, “The Vikings.”

So there you have it.

They were, as we first thought, violent bastards. But more Don Corleone at the opera than Tony Soprano in a singlet.

Which was why, if you saw them sailing into your bay with their supper-savers and perfectly manicured nails, there only ever was one choice.

Run.

263

COLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

THE 23 MOST BEAUTIFUL LINES IN LITERATURE

COLIN FALCONER, FACEBOOK, BEST SELLING AUTHOR, ROMANCE, ADVENTURE, HISTORICAL FICTION

Come and join me at the Falconer Club, for selected excerpts and to get free Exclusive Review Copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE FACEBOOK LOGO AT TOP RIGHT!

Let’s start off this blog about the 23 most beautiful lines in literature by saying these are not the 23 most beautiful lines in literature.

They are just some of them.

I’m sure you can think of others; Feel free to contribute your own favorites at the end.

1. “She wasn’t doing a thing that I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together.”
— J. D. Salinger, “A Girl I Knew”

2. “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

3. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.” – Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

literature4. “The half life of love is forever.”
Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her

5. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live – Natalie Babbit, Tuck Forever

6. “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
—L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

7. “I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
— Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

literature8.  “Journeys end in lovers meeting.”
—William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

9.
“And the rest is rust, and stardust.”
– Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

10.
“I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”
― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

11.
literature“Why don’t you tell me that ‘if the girl had been worth having she’d have waited for you’? No, sir, the girl really worth having won’t wait for anybody.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

12.
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

13.
“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

14.
Give me my Romeo. And when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
– You Know Who, Romeo and Juliet

15.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
Miles to go before I sleep
– Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost,

16.
Teller, teller, tell me a tale
of love and fear and duty,
I want to die in the arms of love
I want to die for beauty,
For beauty is the only truth
and death the only lie,
I want to sing a final tale
and love before I die
Troll Bridge, Jane Yollen

17.
“I have one thing to say, one thing only, I’ll never say it another time, to anyone, and I ask you to remember it: in a universe of ambiguity, this kind of certainty comes only once, and never again, no matter how many lifetimes you live.” – Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

literature18.
“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me. “Yes,” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

19
“Tomorrow, I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

20.
“Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit em, but remember that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” — To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

literature21
“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aurelio Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon that his father took him to discover ice.”

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

22.
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Rebecca,  Daphne du Maurier

And my own particular favorite:

23. It’s from the short story Innocence, by Harold Brodkey

literature

romantic adventure, romantic fiction, historical romance, adventure, romance, opium, bangkok, laos, vietnam, bangkok, drug wars

Laos 1961: Noelle Bonaventure is young, beautiful, spoiled – and lonely. When she meets a handsome and barnstorming pilot called Crocé, it seems to be everything she is looking for. She will do anything to keep him. But as Indochina descends into chaos around her, she finds that love can lead to dark places she thought she’d never go.

colin falconer, kitty o'kane, historical romanceLOVE, INDIA, TAJ MAHALCOLIN FALCONER

Colin Falconer, romance, adventure, bestseller, historical fiction

Come meet me at the Falconer Club, for exclusive excerpts and the chance to win copies of my books. JUST CLICK THE PICTURE ABOVE!

 

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