Winged words and chocolate interrobangs

I came across a couple of interesting-looking linguablogs today: Epea pteroenta, which discusses language, linguistics, literature, and film; and The Chocolate Interrobang, where the numerous contributors “savor discussions about language & grammar & syntax, and sometimes reminisce about diagramming sentences…”.

The phrase Epea Pteroenta (Επεα Πτεροεντα) comes from Homer’s Odyssey and means “winged words”. When I first saw it, I realised is was Greek and thought it had something to do with birds – ptero as in pterodactyl – until discovering it’s real meaning. My Greek obviously needs more work.

The titles of both these blogs appeal to me, especially the latter. I think titles are important and often spend a while trying to come up with good titles for blog posts and web pages, and even good subjects for emails. I like punning titles and those containing combinations of words not normally seen together, like chocolate and interrobang.

Books with unusual or amusing titles also tend to catch my attention, and my choice of reading material is sometimes based mainly on a quirky title. Here are a few examples: The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts, the first of Louis De Bernieres’ triology or novels set in an unnamed country in South America; The Bank Manager and the Holy Grail, a travel book in which Byron Rogers explores the “wilder reaches of Wales”, and The Sprouts of Wrath, the forth book in Robert Rankins’ Brentford trilogy.

Before the 20th century, many books had very long titles which tried to explain the contents of the book in detail. Here, for example, is the title of Dr Johnson’s famous dictionary:

A
DICTIONARY
of the
English Language:
in which
The WORDS are deduced from their ORIGINALS,
and
ILLUSTRATED in their DIFFERENT SIGNIFICATIONS
by
EXAMPLES from the best WRITERS.
To which are prefixed
and AN ENGLISH GRAMMAR.
By SAMUEL JOHNSON, A.M.
In TWO Volumes

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This entry was posted in English, Language.

4 Responses to Winged words and chocolate interrobangs

  1. David says:

    I like clever and quirky titles as much as you, but there’s also something appealing about those old-fashioned titles that filled up the entire title page of a book. You can’t say the title page of Don Quijote isn’t interesting.

  2. David says:

    Also, it’s lamentable that more people don’t use the interrobang. I kind of like it.

  3. Anders says:

    An
    OMNI-LINGUAL
    Web-Site:
    in which
    WRITING SYSTEMS
    and
    LANGUAGES
    are explained
    and discussed
    IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL
    to which are affixed
    and
    A WEBBED LOG
    A FORUM OF DISCUSSION
    and
    SEVERAL INCOMPLETE SITE TRANSLATIONS

  4. zmjezhd says:

    I do love chocolate and the interrobang, which I discover, much to my delight, is in Unicode (thus ‽). Thank you very kindly for the link, node, and ping.