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Molly Cule
152641.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:53 am Reply with quote

"Bell is believed to be the first to suggest the use of a radioactive substance in vivo to treat deep-seated cancerous masses. In a letter to his physician, published in Science in July 1903, he described an apparatus to seal a small radium source inside a glass tube."

This letter is online on at, who is it who subscribes to Nature, is it Jmitch?

152642.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:55 am Reply with quote

I think he was going to subscribe. I found my source, it was the ITN Book of Firsts. Not quite as authentic I guess.

152653.  Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:27 am Reply with quote

AGB co-designed the craft which held the world water speed record in 1919. His co-creater, Frederick Baldwin piloted the hydrofoil which travelled at just under 71 mph.


153733.  Mon Mar 05, 2007 7:59 am Reply with quote

Link to Vitali's Polish tongue-twister / execution.

Molly Cule
157698.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:33 pm Reply with quote

What has the way I speak got to do with The Great Plague?

After the plague happened a phenomenon called the Great Vowel Shift took place. The upshot of this was that the long vowels of English shifted upwards, so where once we lived in a ‘hoose’ we English now live in a a 'house'; we milked a 'coo', now known as a 'cow'; we had a 'gode' day rather than a 'good' one; we had 'feef' fingers on each hand and now we have 'five'; we wore 'boats' on our 'fate' whereas now we wear 'boots' on our 'feet'.

One reason for this shift is that after the plague broke out there was a mass migration of people to the safe haven of South East England, this brought people with many different accents together, people began to modify their speech to allow for a standard pronunciation of vowel sounds. Also there was a great deal of social mobility as many people in the upper classes were affected so working class people shifted upwards in society and began to changed their accents.

Molly Cule
157700.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 5:36 pm Reply with quote

Which American president made terrible speeches that don’t make a lot of sense?

F - Bush?

Warren Gabriel Harding, President in the 1920’s was notorious for his verbal gaffes. When Harding died ee cummings said ‘The only man, woman or child who wrote a simple declarative sentence with seven grammatical errors is dead.’
He insisted on making his own speeches in which he said things like "I would like the government to do all it can to mitigate, then, in understanding, in mutuality of interest, in concern for the common good, our tasks will be solved."
Harding's most famous "mistake" was his use of the word "normalcy" when the more correct word to use at the time would have been "normality." Harding decided he liked the sound of the word and made "Return to Normalcy" a recurring theme.
Critic H.L. Mencken said of Harding, "He writes the worst English that I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges; it reminds me of tattered washing on the line; it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it. It drags itself out of the dark abysm of pish, and crawls insanely up the topmost pinnacle of posh. It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash."

157709.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:16 pm Reply with quote

Would this have caught anyone, or isn't it well-known in the UK?

Q: Who said "I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people."

F: Dan Quayle

A: Someone called Claudine Schneider

In April 1989, Representative Claudine Schneider of Rhode Island told a gathering of Republicans that she had recently attended an event at the Belgian embassy, where Vice-President Quayle complimented her on her command of French. Then, Schneider said, the Vice-President added: "I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn't study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people." Ms. Schneider concluded by admitting that the story was merely a joke, but not all the newspapers reported it that way. Several publications, either through carelessness or a desire not to let the truth get in the way of a good story, reported the story as true. The culprits included such venerable publications as Newsday, the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time. The fabricated misquote took hold because it sounded exactly like something Dan Quayle (or, more accurately, the Dan Quayle of public perception) would say, and no amount of correction could dislodge it from the public vocabulary.

Some real Quayle-isms:

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change."
"I stand by all the misstatements that I've made."
"For NASA, space is still a high priority."

But these are widely attributed to the former Vice-President but actually coined by humour writers as things he might say:

"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure."
"A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it."

From Snopes. Not interesting or British enough for our purposes, I guess; at best a note to something else such as Molly's question.

157715.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:32 pm Reply with quote

Never heard of it, sorry, though I probably would have guessed Quayle. I especially like the Harding stuff, and the fact that GWB is carrying on a proud tradition of seemingly illiterate presidents.

157717.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:56 pm Reply with quote

Those last items have also been attributed to GWB even though, it is true to say, he needs little assistance in making verbal blunders.

157767.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:35 am Reply with quote

Molly Cule wrote:
After the plague happened a phenomenon called the Great Vowel Shift took place. The upshot of this was that the long vowels of English shifted upwards, so where once we lived in a ‘hoose’ we English now live in a a 'house'; we milked a 'coo', now known as a 'cow';

So, before the Great Plague, everyone spoke with a Scottish accent? :)

157773.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:48 am Reply with quote

I would avoid all those T. Danforth/ George W malapropisms. I spent some time looking into them a few years ago, and it is absolutely impossible to follow a clear trail through them. I don’t believe snopes or anyone else has genuinely sorted out the ball of string; many quotes which used to be Quayle are now Bush, which at least suggests they are false - but, I found at least one (can’t remember it now) which was an apparently genuine Quayle which had later become an apparently genuine Bush. Possibly it was a joke the first time, and an ironic echo the second, or ... possibly not.

Use them for a quick laugh by all means, but any attempt to authoritatively and finally pin down their provenance (especially whether or not they were jokes or genuine errors) is a complete waste of time.

157812.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 7:37 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
So, before the Great Plague, everyone spoke with a Scottish accent? :)

At the risk of sounding like samivel, I'll venture a lol there.

And doesn't that which Scots says actually sound more like "hoase" anyways? (As indeed does that which the stereotype Canadian says. Though not I, since we don't do Canadian raising in Vancouver. Say it but quietly, but we people of the Pacific coast have American accents.)

Very approximately though, before the Great Vowel Shift hit England:

"cake" was "cahk"
"feet" were "fate"
"mice" were "meece"
"coat" was "caught" (as still found in some parts of northern England)
"boot" was "boat"
"house" was indeed "hoose"

157922.  Tue Mar 20, 2007 10:37 am Reply with quote

In my youth there used to be a machine in the Castle Museum in York which, if you put a couple of old pennies in it, rewarded you with a sample of broad Dales dialect speech. It was said then that visitors from Scandinavia could more or less understand what was said, and it's certainly true that many words spoken with a very broad Yorkshire accent sound the same as the equivalent Danish word - boat being one of them.

159140.  Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:32 am Reply with quote


Molly Cule
160287.  Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:28 am Reply with quote

Why did Churchill spend so long at the dentist?

He had dentures made especially to preserve his trademark lisp.
When he was younger he didn’t like his lisp, he thought about having elocution lessons and used to practice speaking correctly by repeating sentences like “The Spanish ships I cannot see for they are sheltered”.
However, as he grew older he became aware of how important his speech impediment was as a hallmark to be preserved at all costs. He had dentures made that were clasped in an unusual way to allow the saliva to flow between the palate and the plate of the denture, this together with his lisp created the characteristic phonetic result.
It took a long time to make his dentures, sometimes tiny adjustments had to be made with a nail file. The way his denture was clasped meant the clasps were under a lot of stress so his private secretary used to keep a spare pair for when he needed.
Churchill’s patience frequently wore thin. He would place his thumb against the denture while he was wearing it and with a flick it out to hit against the wall.
The prolonged clinical sessions were accompanied by brandy in place of mouth wash and two cigars were the norm


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