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June 27, 2007


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Well it's not wine. And it's not terrible writing. But the label of Thomas Hardy's Ale ale has always been a favourite.

In 'The Trumpet-Major' Hardy wrote: "It was of the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset."

Nice. I'm surprised that the Slate piece and related things don't mention Adrienne Lehrer anywhere — a linguist who's written pretty important stuff about how people talk about wine. Haven't read it in a long time, but I recall it as pretty engaging writing about wine talk.

Mr. Verb--Well, you piqued my curiosity, so I Googled Adrienne Lehrer and found this post on Language Log from 2004: http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001005.html

The post cites an article by Natalie MacLean, but the link is broken now. Here's a quote:

"While compiling her glossary of frequently used wine adjectives, Lehrer discovered that the high-growth tasting terms include 'barnyard funk,' 'transcendental,' 'intellectual' and 'diplomatic.' 'Funky was used a lot,' she says. 'I don't know whether it has any specific meaning that's different from the way that it's used elsewhere.'"

"Diplomatic"?? Where is James Thurber ("It's a naive domestic Burgundy, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption") now that we need him more than ever?

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