Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Thing Not To Do Today: sneer.
'I am, in point of fact, a particularly haughty and exclusive person, of pre-Adamite ancestral descent. You will understand this when I tell you that I can trace my ancestry back to a protoplasmal primordial atomic globule. Consequently, my family pride is something inconceivable. I can't help it. I was born sneering.'
If, like Pooh-Bah in W S Gilbert's The Mikado, you're prone to sneering then I suggest you just hold on just a moment and look at the company you're keeping. Other notable sneerers include, for instance, Byron's Corsair, Emily Bronte's Heathcliff, and Shelley's Ozymandias. Not one of whom, as I need hardly remind you, came to a happy end. And, let's face it, their middles weren't that much cop as far as I can see, either.
Yes, yes, I know, these are all fictional characters. Well, if you want a scientific point of view then Charles Darwin, in The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, says that a sneer is basically the same thing as a dog's snarl.
Let's face it, as an argument it's just about as valid.
Thing Not To Do Today: sneer. There's a North Frisian word sneere which means contempt, and our word could well have something to do with that.