Hugo Brandt Corstius (1935-2014)

By Van Der Vaart, Joop | Word Ways, November 2014 | Go to article overview

Hugo Brandt Corstius (1935-2014)


Van Der Vaart, Joop, Word Ways


Being one of the probably very few Dutch subscribers to Word Ways magazine (in fact, Karen and Jerry have informed me that I am now the captain of an almost abandoned ship, being the sole remaining Dutch subscriber), I feel that the reader of Word Ways should be notified that Dutch author, mathematician and master of word play Hugo Brandt Corstius, sadly passed away at the age of 78 on February 28th 2014. Furthermore, I feel that you should know more about him than you might know already.

What you might suspect is that Brandt Corstius (as his surname was) has been a keen reader of Word Ways for many years, but you might not know that he (under the name Battus, one of his many pseudonyms) has compiled the bible of Dutch word play Opperlandse taal-& letterkunde (1981) [1] with its two successors OPPERLANS! Taal-& letterkunde (2002) [2] and OPPERLANS WOORDENBOEK (2007) [3]. It is my humble opinion that these three books should be in your collection of word play books (although not cheap), even though maybe 99 percent of the content is incomprehensible for maybe 99 percent of you (probably not capable of grasping the many subtleties of the Dutch language to start with, let alone able to appreciate the word play involved). But the sheer look of the books and the special layout make them worth a purchase. A must-have for you all is Battus' book SYMMYS (whereby the last S of course is depicted as the mirror reflection of the first S) from 1991 (!), which contains exactly 2500 palindromes from all over the world, so better understood by the Word Ways reader [4]. More about these books later in this article.

Brandt Corstius studied Mathematics, but shifted towards computer-based analysis (a new field at the time) and wrote his thesis Exercises in Computational Linguistics (1970). Already as a student (1957) he started writing articles for Propria Cures (a Dutch magazine founded in 1870 which has been a forum for free-thinkers from its first issue) and that was the beginning of a life-long career of writing very sharp (sometimes too sharp according to his many enemies), very witty (according to his equally many-if not more-fans and followers) but always original and cunning articles, columns and reviews, using his analytic and mathematical mind but also with a never-absent love for the correct and innovative use of the Dutch language. Writing those columns for many newspapers and magazines made him a public figure (although he used at least 25 pseudonyms), loved but also hated. I will not bore you with details of petty Dutch polemics in the seventies but I will give you only one example of the controversial nature of his writings. As it happened, in 1984 Brandt Corstius was awarded the prestigious P.C. Hooftprize for literature, but the responsible Minister of Culture refused to present the prize to HBC. The committee was then made into an independent foundation and four years later he was awarded with the P.C. Hooftprize after all.

More of interest to you might be that HBC always has been fully and unconditionally appreciated by everyone (friend or foe) because of his groundbreaking work on Dutch word play. What Martin Gardner did to raise my interest in recreational mathematics when I became a math student in 1972 (I have folded many a hexa-hexa-flexagon in my younger years and so have many of my pupils since-in both meanings of the word-1 became a math teacher), Brandt Corstius did to raise my interest in recreational linguistics around the same time. I always have been interested in both math and language, but sometimes (especially when there are no computers to help you find specific book titles or know about International Puzzle Parties or Gatherings for Gardner or Word Ways to name but a few of my occupations) you need somebody to lead you to the light. In this case the constant flow of word play articles (amongst many articles on math, politics, art and computers) was overwhelming and would have been more than enough to satisfy my appetite. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Hugo Brandt Corstius (1935-2014)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.