Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sir Courtly Who...?

Sir Courtly Nice: Wherever I go, all the World cries that's a Gentleman, my Life on't, a Gentleman ; and when ye'ave said a Gentleman, you have said all.
Servant: Is there nothing else belongs to a Gentleman ?
Sir Courtly Nice: Yes, Bon mien, fine Hands, a Mouth well furnish'd
Servant: With fine Language-
Sir Courtly Nice: Fine Teeth, you Sot ; fine Language belongs to Pedants and poor Fellows that live by their Wits. Men of Quality are above Wit ; 'tis true, for our Diversion sometimes we write, but we ne'er regard Wit. I write, but I never writ any Wit.

Sir Courtly Nice was the invention of the dramatist, John Crowne (1641-1712). Sir Courtly is one of that type of Restoration comedy characters (other notables being Etherege’s Sir Fopling Flutter, Vanbrugh’s Lord Foppington) generally known as the ‘fop’ - a man whose opinion of himself far exceeds his talents.

So what has he to do with this blog...?

Well, this blog is about words. It’s very easy to be pompous about words. Even the words that describe words tend to sound highfalutin’: literature, grammar, rhetoric, poetry, consonance, assonance... I like Sir Courtly’s opinion on the matter: “Fine Language belongs to Pedants and poor Fellows that live by their Wits...”

If I find myself waxing pompous, I’ll try to remember that. If I forget it, you will see a very handy ‘Comment’ link which gives you the opportunity to remind me.

One thing I shall warn you of in advance: this blog will ramble. I will write about whatever takes my fancy on the day. That might be rhyming slang, backslang or Polari; it might be style, grammar or the humorous potential of the semicolon. It might be my thoughts on the ten funniest words in English or the twenty-three filthiest ones.

More anon...


  1. In such a blog how is one to know what is pompous and what is not? I find nothing so far that can be defined thusly. I would think Hyacinth in the comedy "Keeping Up Appearances" could be called pompous. . .but good wishes to this literary effort, old chap. Pip pip and all that, doncha know, yoicks, and tally-ho! Zounds. . .

  2. Fear not, Alex, I have plenty of time to work on the pomposity! :-)