2 From SKB:


[Fwd: American idioms]
"stan@bootle.biz" <stan@bootle.biz>
Thu, 2 Aug 2012 11:25:50 +0100
Vladimir Nabokov Forum <NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU>

My point was not about the frequency of ‘midst’ amongst [sic] different breeds of English. After 30+ years conversing/writing/reading in both the UK and USA, I’ve found ‘midst’ evenly distributed, usually as a near-synonym for ‘middle/during’ and with the same spread of idiomatic nuances. Compare this with  ‘whilst/amongst,’ which, to my ears, seem to have more of a British than American flavour. In spite of which, the synonyms ‘while/among’ are emerging as both the British and American ‘norms.’

Not that anyone can count such frequencies (subject to volatile fashion) with any accuracy. Certainly, one should not form dogmatic Literary opinions about speakers’ origins and intentions from vague opinions: so-and-so is not all that unusual! I hear Pinter saying, ‘I just said “Not at all unusual.” Not “Not all THAT unusual!”’

My point concerned CK’s particular use of ‘midst,’ unusual in both Brit and American English: migraine causes him to ‘leave in the midst of a concert.’  EH’s example of ‘in the midst of problems’ does, in fact, illustrate where the difference lies. As I noted, there’s a subtle cause-effect reversal from the expected ‘leaving a concert in the midst of a migraine.’

My spinal tap is increased by Jansy’s discovery of CK quitting the nasty publisher ‘in the midst of a SUNSET.’ I find this sublimely unexpected and Nabokovian beyond rational analysis.

Stan Kelly-Bootle


On 31/07/2012 02:55, "Carolyn Kunin" <chaiselongue@ATT.NET> wrote:

This reminds me of the time some American hair-products company got into trouble when they tried to market a steam generated curling iron to the German public under the name of Mist Wand!

Rolls-Royce encountered this problem at a more expensive level: a model called the SILVER MIST. Quickly renamed. SKB

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