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Welcome to the May ememess newsletter, sporadic news from the porch of Michael Marshall Smith, Michael Marshall, and whomever else I may be. 

Breaking news will pop up on Twitter first, so you might want to follow there. 

MAIN NEWS: Revised Publication Date for HANNAH
The new Michael Marshall Smith book has been rescheduled, I'm afraid. Originally due at the beginning of June in the UK, it's now been moved to July 27th.

This is for publishing reasons, and should not be taken as an indication that I haven't finished it. Because I have. No, honestly. The good news is the delay gives me a little more time to prep some competitions for publication, the prizes for which will be mind-bendingly fabulous. Stay tuned.

NOTE: Other territories will be announced as soon I know...
Pre-order HANNAH GREEN from Amazon UK Now
Pre-order HANNAH GREEN from Amazon UK Now
Okay, to be honest that was the ONLY news right now, apart perhaps from the fact that I will be attending the World Science Fiction Convention in Helsinki in August, but...

Here's a Thing

While involved in pro-level procrastination the other day I spent a while sorting through some of old research bookmarks. I came upon a link that I had no recollection of saving, relating to abandoned Nazi sites. Some of these were called Thingplatz, or “Thing Places” — as part of Goebbel's “Thing Movement” — and this struck me as an odd name, so I looked into it.

Turns out the original meaning of the word thing (in both German and English) was a meeting, assembly or council, from the Proto-Germanic thingam, from the Old Norse. Which led me to the (admitedly only mildly interesting) realization that if somebody says “Hey, we should arrange a thing, and get everyone together,” or “Are you going to the thing on Saturday?” then what sounds like a hip and slangy use of the word is actually returning it to its Old Norse roots, giving lie to the idea that the old sense of meeting/assembly didn't survive the transition from Old English. Though admittedly this is basically a vernacular slant on its commonly understood sense (since the 1600s) of a word used for something the speaker can't presently name (or, as is the case in the movie THE THING, something which defies naming).

As often in etymology, quite how it got here from there isn't intuitively obvious, but this sense evolution is echoed in the way the French word chose (“thing”) is derived from the Latin causa — referring to a judicial process or case. Using the word to denote someone's possessions predates this usage by three hundred years, as does its use of persons — as in “you poor thing”. The hippie-sounding “Hey, baby — it's my thing” actually predates the 1960s by well over a hundred years, though admittedly without the “baby”. The original sense of “thing” is retained in the word “husting” [Old Norse hus (house) + Old Norse thing (assembly)] and in languages like Icelandic (the Althing is the country's national assembly) — and of course German, which is where we came in.

As an additional factoid, “thing” would originally have been written þing. No, not pronounced “ping”. That's þ, the thorn character, (of course originally the word would have been spelled þorn, which is unfortunate). Still used in Icelandic, it was common in Old Norse and Old English before being gradually replaced by the modern “th”. Its capital form was often rendered to look more like a Y, giving rise to the misconception that “Ye Olde Pub” should be pronouced with the Y sounded as it would be in yes (phonetically rendered as /'ji:/): in fact, ye was never an alternative or archaic version of the definite article the — but rather a spelling of exactly the same word, pronounced the same, but using the thorn character instead of “th” (the character lingered longer in signage, probably because of the space-saving opportunities it offered).

The upshot of all which is that if you hear someone saying “Ye” in the way everybody does, you can explain all of this to them. Be warned that doing so will not make you sound smart, however, merely super-annoying. 

This is probably a good time to remind you that you can unsubscribe from this list via a click-link at the bottom of the newsletter. 

Site of the Week:

Messy Nessy Chic

This month I commend to your attention the excellent Messy Nessy Chic — a dependably fascinating source of curious links, featuring a "13 Things I Found On The Internet Today" newsletter which is a damned sight more interesting than this one.

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