Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Magazine article The Spectator

Mind Your Language

Article excerpt

HUGH Kenner, writing in last week's Time's Literary Supplement, offers as his own contribution to a translators' parlour game a version of a poem by Clement Marot (149S1544). Here it is:

Hey, chick, You sick? Ungood. Rx food. Eat fruit, Stay cute, My chick.

It sounds like a Spectator competition, and the problems of translation remain ever tantalising, but what I want to pick up is the fourth line, which, Dr Kenner notes, begins with a word `you can look at but not pronounce'.

I was surprised to see it, because I had been pondering the title of a new magazine that everyone seems to be reading. It is called Rx, and is given away free, yes free, with the dear old Sunday Telegraph. It is mostly to do with medical matters (nowadays we refer to discussion of disease as `health concerns'). So I thought it might be pronounced recipe, since this is the word that doctors use to start their prescriptions, etymologically identical to Jennifer Paterson's receipt. …

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