“Is Abel able to have the ability to can-can?”

The verb to be able to was obviously from an economic or efficiency point of view, a ubiquitous copula which was quite inadequate and in need of evolution.

God only knows how this evolution came about but I’m able to, he’s able to and they were able to became I can, he can and they can. What mysterious force led to this is conjecture but it was a masterpiece of logic.

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Christmas message from Bob

Once again Christmas has arrived and we’re all on tenterhooks, aren’t we? Well, at least I am. Wherever you come from or wherever you are, you can get into the Christmas spirit.

I’m going to eat and drink as much as possible. People need to work. If I eat a lot, lots of waiters will work, won’t they? If I drink a lot, lots of barmen will also work. If I travel a lot, pilots, bus drivers and taxi drivers will be busy. So, pull your fingers out and start enjoying yourselves.

Don’t be a Scrooge this Christmas. There’s no place for austerity at Yuletide. So come on, enjoy yourselves this Christmas! Well, I hope you all have a wonderful and positive Christmas, and I wish you all the best for 2013

The Globe (Pub in Liverpool)

The globe pub Liverpool

As you know The Globe is an “auld” pub. Next year it will celebrate its 125th anniversary. Like old churches, old pubs never seem to change but, of course they do: they have electricity and all the modern paraphernalia of modern logos, brand names and advertising. The best pubs manage to overcome this constant commercialisation due principally to the original architecture and fittings; details which still stare at you and are there to see if you look.

When you enter Cases Street, you are immediately struck by this old building which is always described as “a nice, friendly, unspoilt Victorian pub with a sloping floor” and that’s about it. If you look carefully though, the façade of the building is “classical” in design.

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Almost a Stranger in Liverpool

bob williamson stranger liverpool

Now a regular visitor to Liverpool after more than forty years without visiting my birthplace, I still cannot help wondering at the changes that have taken place, mostly I am proud to say for the better by a long chalk. I remember my grandfather, always a great walker, taking me around the docks where he had worked until he retired, around the city centre, Sefton park, New Brighton and so on.

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As we know ( or should know ) THE PASSIVE TOOL is more prevalent in English than in other languages. Why this is so may be due to the power of inflection in English. In the dictionary inflection is considered, among other things, to be a bending or deviation in the voice or in the grammar which may change or alter the relations between case, number, gender, person, tense and so on. In English we often prefer to put the weight on the object or the receiver of the verbal action, as in a punishment. So instead of saying “The Court gave  Jones a six-month sentence” or “Jones received a six-month sentence”, we say “Jones was given a six-month sentence”. Obviously the circumstances dictate which we use but in an atmosphere of a public outcry against the said Jones, most newspaper editors would bow to the general public’s demand for blood and sate it. At the same time the editor woud avoid using a meaningless subject like The Court. Using newspaper vernacular the whole exercise of economy of expression could be rounded off with the non-finite form “Jones given six-month sentence”.

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Causative (PART I)

The “Causative” is a brilliant conceptual tool lacking in many other languages. This is the simple ( for the English ) way of saying that you pay another person or enterprise to carry out a task which you are incapable of doing yourself. Perhaps the task is is too technical and so you contact a computer specialist, a mechanic, an electrician or a plumber and so on. Perhaps the task is impossiblephysically for example, you can’t cut your own hair. So you go to the barber or hairdresser to have your hair cut, washed, permed or streaked. Under a third category, we have specialists often of a medical nature: you can have your mouth looked after by a dentist, your eyes by an optician and your general health or aesthetic worries by a doctor or surgeon. If you are lazy or clumsy, you can have your windows cleaned or your kitchen painted. If you are rich, you can have everything done for you. There is a group of esoteric skills or services; you can have yourself embalmed, for instance, or you can find a taxidermist to have your cat stuffed. Then there are the myriad of daily problems: breakages, breakdowns and failures which you need to have seen to or dealt with. Continue reading