We attended the virtual launch of a virtual resource from our kitchen last night. This was the official launch of ContemporaryIrishWriting.ie which ‘features books written in both English and Irish, ranging from fiction and poetry to memoir, young adult fiction and children’s literature.’
Before I digress too far, let me say that contemporaryirishwriting.ie is a very interesting initiative whereby one hundred recent Irish publications have been selected for your consideration. It’s a collaboration between the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) and UCD’s School of English, Drama and Film. Each selection has been curated together with author interviews, reviews and responses to the works to provide context as well as substance. I was surprised to see how few I’d read but encouraged there is so much more pleasure ahead of me. And of course, I was delighted to see Fallen made the cut. (Disclosure: I’m married to the author of Fallen).
The increasingly teutonic nature of elided addresses on theworldwideweb made me wonder about how language may be a barrier to electronic access simply by making the addresses incomprehensible. And thinking about addresses took me down postal routes.
Perhaps you live in a country where your postal address has a logic to it. If the street you live on is the width of the continent, your house number might be 6126734 Very Long Road. If that’s where you live, chances are high that your odd neighbours might be in the adjacent houses or no further than the other side of the street. If your country used building specific post codes, your home will almost certainly be in series with your neighbour. AB12 C01 will be adjacent to AB12 C02. Not so here in Ireland where the recent Eircode system seems to suffer from a variant of the GDPR conditions. R7W8 is almost certainly nowhere close to R7W9. So you can’t learn a shorthand to your waypoints from knowing their pattern.
I remain a great enthusiast for the what3word navigation initiative. They say that ‘everywhere has a 3 word address’. The concept is that ‘with what3words, you can find or share any precise 3m square in the world using just three words.’ I love the idea of it. I have found it efficient to speak to my phone while walking and it’s available in many languages (now 35). ‘Take me to ///juggle.darken.admits’ has guided me to the peak of Lugnaquilla, the second highest peak in Ireland. Of course, you have to make a list of your waypoints in order to know the words. But you were always doing that in planning your walks with maps, weren’t you? And for several years I have been using my electronic devices more easily by speaking my waypoints while navigating on my walks. Look at one of my Instagram feeds from 2018, a picture taken at ///continued.surcharge.forecast while walking Hadrian’s Wall.
But I have digressed.
I recently misaddressed an envelope. There were four unique identifiers to the destination – the people in question, a house name, a house number and an Eircode. The letter was delivered to the one typo that was the wrong house number. It languished there five weeks before the neighbour ventured three doors up the road. My point is that there were four things to know and I got one wrong. Without revealing the people, I could get close enough to see the house, its nameplate and the street number with ///triumphed.shunted.daylights rather than the very specific Eircode.
I am uneasy with the increasing complexity that results from the elisions of so many words into webaddressstrings.com. Some search rather than type to findwhattheywant. Some posters use bit.ly or tiny or other tools to simplify the links they send. Just for fun, I shortened used one URL shortener for walkingcommentary.net and got jswe7d7k. Catchy, isn’t it?
Talking or writing of catchy, and teutonicwebaddresses, do you know of the Simplified Spelling Board from New York in 1906? US Congress didn’t support the idea but many of the initial 300 words that were deemed to need correction seem to have crept into common use anyway. A lot of ‘u’s were dropped. Phantasy and plough were changed tho suggestions for enuf and rime didn’t prove quite so popular.
So that’s it. I’ve telling you about a new web page that attests to the continuing health of great Irish literature. And somehow I’ve managed to dilute the message with stories of navigation and simplifications.
Rosenberg, Jennifer. ‘Teddy Roosevelt Simplifies Spelling.’ ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/teddy-roosevelt-simplifies-spelling-1779197.