Christmas 1916 words

As we move towards the festive end of the year, a look at ‘The Bookman’ issue for Christmas 1916 gives an indication of how the reading public were affected by nearly two and a half years of war.




Immediately noticeable is the use of ‘Xmas’, first cited as such in the OED as used in a letter by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1801. There are the expected books on the war, books of poetry and advice, novels and memoirs.




Though there may not be something for everyone in our selection, there are items of linguistic interest. First up is an article on the translation of Belgian poetry.






Then an article on Russian characteristics, as displayed through the language.




A specialist interest is the linguistic mediation of the war to children, and particularly how this was done indirectly; two books here, one for the very young:






Note in this cartoon by Heath Robinson, known for his ramshackle devices, there is the equally improbable invention of the ‘War Inventions Board’; except that there was a Board of Invention and Researchinitiated by the Admiralty in 1915. It became the Scientific Research and Experiment Department in 1918, remaining thus until 1946. According to a well-known internet information site, the Board of Invention and Research received over 41,000 submissions.




At this point, while the work of the site co-ordinators moves more toward editing the third volume of the Languages and the First World War series of essays, we had better accept and affirm that this will now be an occasional blog, rather than a weekly, fortnightly, or at all regular event. Contributions are welcome, as always.

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