generosity and the grammar of beer

The two topics addressed in my subject line today, by the way, are meant to be read separately. I just thought it was too anal-retentive-lawyer-lingo-like of me to put (a); (b) in the subject line.

WARNING/AVERTISSEMENT/ACHTUNG! Today’s post is excessively verbose, even by my wordy standards. Don’t say I didnae warn ye.

Today was my last official day at my legal research workplace. I would have been a bit sad to leave but they’re finding they can’t get rid of me that easily – I’m going in tomorrow to excavate clean out my office. I’m only moving one floor up in the same building (we Legal Aid types can be fairly incestuous) and the person who will be using my office won’t be starting until mid-August, so had no real incentive to put the full push on for today. Also, I have to go back next week Tuesday for my official going away pizza lunch.

So, I was well surprised to get this lovely gift today:

This lovely bunch of sunflowers was presented to me by the reception/support staff J. and L. I hadn’t expected this at all and was almost moved to tears quite chuffed – particularly when they told me they had picked sunflowers because it was something different and I’m a weirdo they thought I would prefer that. I believe they will miss me because I was by far the noisiest person in an otherwise very quiet office sent them lots of Email jokes, bitched at them about consulted them on important issues, and brought in snack food.

J. runs the office lottery pool, and has also kindly granted me a dispensation to keep playing with the research office team (only after I whined at length that if they won next week when I’d kicked in my $2 a week for the past year and a half, I would sue).

Anyway, please accept my thanks, J. and L. (as I was too verklempt frazzled to tell you properly yesterday). And I thank you for providing a very friendly presence in the office (it’s so nice to come into work and have friendly people say “hey and how are you”) – and, more importantly, for providing that invisible and seamless support and help that is really so invaluable but which is probably not always recognised just because you’re so good at your jobs. You’ve made my work life a lot easier during my time at the research office, and I thank you for that.

Sniff. Sob.

Where was I?

Oh yes, generosity. This very hectic week was also greatly improved when I received a swap package from Clarabelle. Unfortunately, because J. and L. have not committed to running my life in addition to making my work life smoother, I can’t show you my own photos right now. However, she sent me a 1200 yd merino laceweight skein of yarn from the Natural Dye Studio and the colourway looks something like this:

She also enclosed these brilliant UK sweeties:

.. and the UK version of Skittles (one of my favourites – and she didn’t even know that!):

Clarabelle has also mentioned that my recent obsession about preserving food has inspired her to make some jam. Huzzah! So, now I’m mulling over whether I can make jam out of these stems I had to cut off from the sunflowers from J. and L. to make them fit into my vase:

Sunflower stem jelly, anyone? No? Hey – suspend your disbelief… and there is a long weekend coming up for me after all. This coming Monday is “Simcoe Day” – the Toronto excuse for “you need a long weekend in August”. And so we do. The fact that the holiday is called after a long-dead white settler guy shouldn’t really matter.

However, I’ve often wondered why they don’t just call these summer long weekend Mondays “Beer Day”, being in Canada and all. This trend has already started here by the way… the long weekend organised around “Victoria Day” after this person who was born on 24 May:

… has morphed into a whole weekend which many of us Canajans affectionately refer to as the “May Twofer Weekend”.

Huh?!? you people not lucky enough to be living in Canada are saying? Herein starts the grammar lesson.

Well, not quite yet. The necessity of the grammar lesson was brought home to me when, on the way home from my “last day at the research office” dinner, I told JJ that I wanted to deke into the LCBO to buy a six of beer. He started to laugh at me but I was too busy deking into the LCBO to investigate the cause of the laughter until he drove up in his chariot to carry me home with my six-pack.

He then telt me “Well, lassie, ye’re always so big on the grrrrammar, yet ye’re saying “a six of beer” and that makes no grrramatical sense”.

And (as almost always), he is right. It doesnae make any grammatical sense… unless yer Canajan, apparently. Since he has been some 18 years in Canada, it is surely not the first time that JJ has heard reference to “a six/twelve/twentyfour/2-4/twofer” of beer, and I of course reminded him of this. He said (and I quote):

Weeeeeeellllll, that still doesnae mek it right, hen.

Sigh. But of course it is right, in the Canajan context. We buy so much beer, what does it matter if we say the word “pack” after the quantity?!? Our dialect has evolved so that we can avoid this unnecessary verbiage. And, by the way, JJ well knows this – he was just being difficult.

Anyone here ever had to learn how to decline nouns in Latin/Ancient Greek/other foreign language lessons where the language distinguishes the noun ending depending upon how you’re using the noun? If you didn’t, you might as well skip this part of the rant. I, as a young lassie, had to attend Greek School where we were forced to learn this stuff by rote – but it’s not a concept that applies to the English language.

This is the updated version of the book of my nightmares when my parents forced me to go to Greek School instead of letting me attend Brownies.  Now older and wiser, I'm (somewhat) grateful... but anyway.

This is the updated version of the book of my nightmares when my parents forced me to go to Greek School instead of letting me attend Brownies. Now older and wiser, I'm (somewhat) grateful... but anyway.

So, let me try an example from Greek school. Under the direction of teachers who had been kicked out of Greece because they were too cruel to stay there and ended up coming to Kingston, Ontario with the sole purpose of whacking kids with a ruler Kirie Yiorgho, Kirie Pavlo and Kirie Kosta (“Kirie” meaning “Master”), we’d have to recite this sort of thing over and over (and over) again, using the ever popular noun naftees (sailor):

SINGULAR NOMINATIVE: o naftees (“the sailor went out into the boat and sailed it”)

SINGULAR GERUNDIVE: tou naftees (“the boat belonging to the sailor got stolen”)

SINGULAR DATIVE: tou naftee (“I’m giving the boat to the sailor“)


PLURAL NOMINATIVE: ee naftess (“the sailors went out into the boat and sailed it”)

PLURAL GERUNDIVE: tou nafton (“the boat belonging to the sailors got stolen”)

PLURAL DATIVE: tou naftes (“I’m giving the boat to the sailors“)


(I’m still trying to figure out, by the way, why in a Greek school in Kingston, Ontario we had to keep going on about sailors and the other Greek textbook favourite, the soldier [stratiotis]. I’m also trying to figure out why I decided to blog about this because now it’s all ringing in my head. Oh, and by the way, it’s even more complicated in Ancient Greek – as every idiot Greek Canadian like me who managed to get into a university where they offered Ancient Greek and signed up in the first year thinking “Bird course!”… WRONG. But that is perhaps another topic for another blog post… then again, maybe NOT).

Anyway, if you’re still with me, here is my rendition of the noun declension for “beer” in Modern Canajan:

SIX PACK: a six of beer

12 PACK: a 12 of beer (NEVER “a dozen beer”)

CASE OF 24 BEER: a 2-4; a twenty-four; a twofer ** please note the omission of “of beer”

There are also strange variations on the theme as one local beer company insists on packing its beer in nine and eighteen bottle packs, just to be perverse different. I’m not sure of the grammatical implications of that, but I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and please note: in Canajan, the plural of “beer” is … “beer”. NOT “beers”. If ever you are in Canada and you say “I had too many beers last night”, you will be instantly identified as Murcan. It’s easier if you’re from the UK because then Canajans can talk the common language of “pints”. The ordinary English grammar rules apply to the term “pint”, as far as I’m aware.

Oh, did I ever happen to mention that my undergraduate degree is in linguistics? Probably I had managed to avoid that admission, as that should be enough to drive even my very staunchest readers away. Sigh. Too late now!

Anyway, on that note, happy weekend to all… and I hope you enjoy it with whatever beverage you choose, but preferably beer (plural).




9 thoughts on “generosity and the grammar of beer

  1. Sequana says:

    I just bought a 12 yesterday…….*S*

    I like the example of “Hey, Sailor!”……seems very useful

    You see how different your sunflowers look than the pic you put up a week or so ago? All those seeds in the center.

    Good luck in the new job.

  2. Kathy Kathee Kathees says:

    Hey sailor!!

    “Oh, did I ever happen to mention that my undergraduate degree is in linguistics? Probably I had managed to avoid that admission, as that should be enough to drive even my very staunchest readers away. Sigh. Too late now!”

    Me, too! At long last someone who might could understand my jokes about the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

    Please to enlighten us Murcans about the UK Skittles. What’s different?

  3. clarabelle says:

    Glad that you like the yarn and sugar substances!

    I need to properly read and digest this post, but because cricket is on, and I’m cooking, and because we’re then going out, my (proper) response will have to wait! I’m so interested in the fact that you studied linguistics, ducks!

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