This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Saturday Rave: The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger.

The Catcher in the Rye was published 65 years ago today.

Rye catcher.jpg

I read it ages ago because I thought I should. I didn't expect to understand much of what was going on because I didn't know what a catcher was - or what rye was, either, except in its slimming-biscuit-that-tasted-of-cardboard manifestation.

As far as I can remember, though, the most puzzling thing in the book was one particular word. It sounded Russian, which I found surprising for an American book of its time. To be honest, this strange word is the thing I remember most vividly about the book.

It was s'NOOvabitch.

Well, that's how I pronounced it as I read it anyway, In the book it was spelled, I think, sonuvabitch.

It only took me a couple of decades to work it out.

I now know what both a catcher and rye are. And, indeed, what a s'NOOvabitch is, too.

Though, as far as working out what the book means, I can't honestly say it helps all that much.

Word To Use Today: umm...I might get into trouble for encouraging the use of s'NOOvabitch, but how about rye? It's stuff a bit like wheat that grows in fields and is also used for food. The word comes from the Old English ryge.

By the way, quite a lot of The Catcher in the Rye depends on the fact that the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, doesn't understand the Robert Burns song Coming Through the Rye. 

But then I suppose we all build our world largely out of misunderstandings, don't we?

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