Thursday, March 26, 2009

Very Bunny

As Easter draws near it is time for my annual confession. Yes, dear Reader, I’m not Ragini Werner, your freelance editor and author’s friend who’s been faffing about online blowing NEEDSer’s horn to all and sundry (more sundry than all at this early stage). No indeed. I am in fact the Easter Bunny. You’d never have guessed it, but I do declare it’s true. I am the Bunny. Not just any Bunny, the Dutch Easter Bunny or Hare to be precise: Paashaas.
Perhaps I should explain, for those of us not bilingual. For starters, paashaas may look like one word but it’s actually two (the Dutch do this joining up thing a lot) (like the Germans do) (well, stands to reason, Dutch is a Germanic language). To un-Dutch eyes it may look like it but you don’t say paashaas like ‘pash-ass’ (as in: kiss my donkey with fervour). It sounds just like the open vowel of the plural of Dad (repeat after me: Papas) and the open (etc.) plural of laughs (say again: ha-ha’s). Now, join up the dads with the laughs and hey presto, you got it! Paashaas.

Moving on quickly now, paas also rhymes with the plural of Mum (see below) and even the planet Mars, but in that case only without you saying the ‘r’. Did you know Dutch spelling is very WYSIWY Hear and that’s really handy but o yea verily, don’t get me started on spelling, that’s a whole other kettle of vis. To return to our lesson: when you add ‘r’ to paas you get paars which sounds like ‘parse’ (I know it’s hard, but do try to keep up) and paars means ‘purple’ and as an adjective it gets inflected when placed before a noun (unless the noun is neuter). In short, I am the Paarse Paashaas, otherwise known as the Purple Easter Bunny. And that's definitive!

What’s that harrumph? Don’t tell me you’re not convinced. But Reader, my dear, it’s elementary (or alimentary considering how many chocky bunnies head down that canal come Easter time). I am positively, existentially purple. Long ago I settled into my purple haze. I love purple. Take a look at how I use it in this blog, better yet click over to the
NEEDSer business site and check out the purple there. Any e-mail reader of mine can attest to my propensity for typing in purple (fittingly so, I always feel, considering my proclivity for purple prose). I could go on (and on) but let me rest my case: Purpurata, ergo sum. ‘Clad in purple, therefore I am.’

Thank goodness we’ve settled the purply bit. Yet how does that parse with the bunny bit? See here, snapped for your eyes only, your not so bashful Blagger caught snoozing on the job. Either that, or it’s my holier than a rabbit warren look. If this shock-doc depiction of me having a bad hare day doesn’t convince you, then I really don’t know what could.

And what’s all this got to do with anything important? Well, my babbling on about Dutch is not mere digression. It’s my mad March hare-y way of pointing you to the best guide for sorting out the quirks and oddities of ‘Dunglish’. Living in the Netherlands, as I do, I do lots of work for people who write English with a Dutch accent = Dunglish. My job is to edit out the Dunglish and to do that well I often dip into one of my favourite stylebooks: Righting English That’s Gone Dutch by Joy Burrough-Boenisch, linguist, editor/translator and fellow member of the Dutch-based professional association SENSE, the Society of English-Native-Speaking Editors. Burrough-Boenisch may be writing on a serious subject, but she has a lovely light touch. Her puns still get me laughing, no matter how often I read them. Clear writing and clever wordplay, what more could a word-lover want?

I leave you now with Mama Cass Elliot, who (I am told) once told a reporter that prior to its release this hit song was nearly called Getting Bunny, Every Day. A case, perhaps of hare today, gone tomorrow? See you next week!