Diva Musing: Literary Updates….

I’m a bit of a literary snob all year round.  But tis the season for updates.  I’m not a fan of changing the Queen’s English but here you have it…..
2019 Words of the Year
Dictionary publisher Collins announces its word of the year on Thursday – and there’s no shortage of terms they could pick for 2019.
Every year, brand new words or phrases emerge to reflect the changes in society or technology. Selfie was invented with the rise of smartphones. Or Brexit, when a pithy term was called for to describe the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Collins Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) are both set to announce their words of the year soon. Contenders can be a brand new word, an old word that has made a comeback, or two existing words that have been joined together and taken on new meaning (like photobomb).
The OED says the chosen word should be “reflective of the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of this past year, but as having lasting potential as a word of cultural significance”.
The debate is one of the highlights of the year for Gyles Brandreth, co-host of Something Rhymes With Purple, a podcast all about language and its evolution.
Language is power, language is what defines us, makes us the people who we are,” he says. “We’re so blessed that the English language is our parent tongue, because it is the richest language in the world.
New words are coming into the language all the time and have been for thousands of years. Some very old words have survived a long time, some others have disappeared, and some new ones come along. And it’s always fun to discover which are the ones which have bubbled to the surface this year.”
Woke could be in with a shot this year. So could influencer. Phrases like cancel culture, where a celebrity’s career is damaged after saying something distinctly un-woke, may also be nominated. Changing gender norms and definitions could also see a term like non-binary recognised.
The Cambridge Dictionary has already announced upcycling as its own winner, based on which word resonated most with their Instagram followers.
The Guardian’s nominations, meanwhile, include femtech and sadfishing, but also a older words like pronoun (which it says “has become a signifier of the new gender politics”) and people.
People is a pretty ordinary word – and one with a long history… but the way the idea of ‘the people’ has been used over the past year, often cynically, makes it thoroughly contemporary,” wrote David Shariatmadari.
It’s also possible that something that isn’t even a word at all could again be named word of the year.
I was intrigued by the conversation that followed Oxford choosing the crying-with-laughter emoji as its word of the year [in 2015],” says lexicographer Susie Dent, Brandreth’s podcast co-host. “It sparked such controversy, people were up in arms saying, ‘It’s not a word, how could Oxford have dumbed down to this extent?’
But actually the OED’s answer was really interesting, because they said humans have been using pictorial representations of words for millennia. We have ancient hieroglyphics that show people have communicated through pictures, and who’s to say that emojis are any different? And they add nuance to words on a screen. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite word of the year by a long shot, but I loved the discussions that followed.”
Brandreth recalls some favourites of his own. “I loved Yolo when it came round,” he says. “YOLO!” he joyfully shouts down the phone a second time for effect. “Which means ‘you only live once’. I loved that one. And amazeballs, I liked that for a while.”
The Oxford English Dictionary selected toxic in 2018, a word which has been around since the mid-17th Century. The OED said the “sheer scope of its application” in recent years was notable because its use had increased dramatically in both literal and more metaphorical senses.
In 2017, it opted for Youthquake – a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people. Prior to that, it chose post-truthvape and the cry-laughing emoji.
Perhaps the most glorious winner, however, was omnishambles, which won in 2012 after its use by the bad-tempered spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in political comedy The Thick of It.
Collins Dictionary, meanwhile, has a habit of making two words its word of the year.
Sometimes this is a result of hyphenation, such as single-use last year. Ironically, the term has had a dramatic increase in use as concerns about the environment have been expressed in recent years.
Binge-watch, was victorious in 2015, as more and more viewers chose to watch their favourite TV shows in one sitting. But 2017’s winner, fake news, didn’t even have a hyphen, instead being two separate words that form a new term used regularly by US President Donald Trump.
Other previous Collins winners include photobomb and Brexit, which was naturally word of the year in 2016, when the UK voted in the EU referendum.
Speaking ahead of this year’s announcement, Dent says: “There’s one I’m hoping won’t win but I think could be a contender, and it’s from the 15th Century, so it’s a good example of a word that’s been revived.
Boris [Johnson, the prime minister] is always behind the revival of old words, like mugwump and so on. But this one was Parliament proroguing. I think prorogue will be on the shortlist this year, but it’s very very old.”
Of course, the development of language, which often involves traditional grammar going out the window, is the cause of irritation to some who care deeply about protecting the basic principles of English.
But both Dent and Brandreth say the evolution of language is precisely what excites them.
I’ve decided to be less irritated and more intrigued by the way that language changes,” says Dent. “But one of the things Gyles and I are always talking about on our podcast is how modern gripes are actually not so modern.
The ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ debate has been going on for centuries. And whether we say ‘nuclear’ or ‘nuc-u-lar’. ‘Aitch’ or ‘haitch’. And ‘disinterested’ and ‘uninterested’. Those terms have been confused for centuries.
My big bugbear used to be mischievous or mischievous, because people were putting an ‘i’ in to rhyme it with devious. I used to hate it, but now I’ve decided it’s a really fascinating snapshot of how pronunciation changes and leaves spelling behind.”
Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

Diva Tasting: Nonni’s Limoncello…

I’m not a big alcohol drinker.  I like this little flavor burst because it’s refreshing. Many recipes out there. This is one closest to my grandmothers I could find. Great little icies, to flavor ice tea, or marinade on some fish.
Nonni’s Limoncello
Ingredients
10 Lemons
1 Liter Vodka
3 Cups White Sugar
4 Cups Water
Directions
  1. Zest the lemons, and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. Pour in vodka. Cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature in a dark place (No light).
  2. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Do not stir. Boil for 15 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir vodka mixture into syrup. Strain into glass bottles, and seal each bottle with a cork. Let mixture age for 2 weeks at room temperature.
  4. Place bottled liqueur into the freezer. When icy cold, serve in chilled vodka glasses or shot glasses.

Diva Tasting: Cornbread..

Here in the South cornbread is a staple.  I love it with all broth based soups and stews.  Sometimes we even put butter and good maple syrup on it and have it for dessert.  Enjoy.
Grandma’s Buttermilk Cornbread side bread
Ingredients
1/2 Cup Butter
3 Eggs
2 Cups Buttermilk
1 Cup Sour Cream
3 Teaspoons Baking Soda
2 Cup White Cornmeal
2 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or large 10 Inch Cast Iron Skillet (My Preference)
  2. Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Variation: Jalapeno Cornbread…Add 1 small jar of diced pickled jalapenos including juice (more to taste), and 3 cups of sharp cheddar to batter and fold in. Bake as directed above.

Diva Tasting: Italian Beef Vegetable Soup..

Italian Beef Vegetable Soup
Ingredients
2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef
1 Cup Chopped Onion
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
8 Cups Beef Broth
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Red Cooking Wine
2 Large Cans Diced Tomatoes Undrained
2 Cups Thinly Sliced Carrots
1 Tablespoon Packed Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 (8 Ounce) Can Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Sliced Zucchini
8 Ounces Fresh Cheese Tortellini Pasta
3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
Parmesan Cheese for Garnish
Directions
  1. In a 5 quart Dutch oven, brown sausage. Remove sausage and drain, reserving 1 tablespoon of the drippings.
  2. Saute onions and garlic in drippings. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  3. Skim fat from the soup. Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese on top of each serving. Serve with cornbread or cheese polenta.

Diva Waxing Poetic: A Brave And Startling Truth …

The late great poet laureate Maya Angelou  has a way of putting life in perspective when I’m pondering things.  I hope you enjoy…Namaste, The Queen Cronista
BY MARIA POPOVA
The second annual Universe in Verse — a celebration of science through poetry, and a voice of resistance against the assault on nature — opened with the poem “A Brave and Startling Truth” by Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928–May 28, 2014), which flew to space on the Orion spacecraft. I chose this poem to set the tone for the show in part because it is absolutely stunning and acutely relevant to our cultural moment, and in part because the first time I read it, it sparked in me a sudden insight into the often invisible ways in which science and poetry influence and inspire one another — into how the golden threads of thought and feeling stretch and cross-hatch across disciplines to weave what we call culture.
Angelou composed the poem for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. In 1994, Carl Sagan delivered a beautiful speech at Cornell University, inspired by the Voyager’s landmark photograph of Earth seen for the very first time from the outer reaches of the Solar System — a now-iconic image the spacecraft took on Sagan’s spontaneous insistence before shutting off the cameras upon completion of the planned mission to photograph the outer planets.
A Brave And Startling Truth – Poem by Maya Angelou
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

Maya Angelou