Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Explanations of a Practical Nature

Here I would like to add a few explanations about how Susan Pevensie lived the rest of the year and part of the following.

The advertisement bureau where she was a secretary was a bit too boisterous for her during grief. She took a fond farewell of all the colleagues and of course of recently married Bobby Bevan.

She took up residence in Heathington, in a room in an attic, and took work as a secretary for one Warren Hamilton Lewis, who was doing research for a book about France under Louis XIV - it was later published in several editions as The Splendid Century - when he had time to spare. He was also a secretary in his turn to his brother, one Clive Staples. Guess how intrigued she was when she found out that ... yes, W. H. looked quite similar to the man who had rescued her after her boat trip on the Thames, and his brother WAS that man. Only, he had called himself Jack when he had invited her for tea.

She stayed for a few months. Meanwhile, she took up French again, she had been better at it than history or maths at least. But this time she had to come to grips with the spelling.

"Why do you spell it so differently, when after zhuh or tew or ill or ell all you say is emm? Only in emmawn and emmay there is a real variation, after noo and voo?"

Warnie - she called him Warnie too, and his brother Jack, once they were clear about the fact she had been that rescued guest too - was away, so it was Jack who answered.

"Well, I guess it might be because it was not always that way it was spoken. Ever wondered if English spelling was once exactly as now, but quite simple to those pronouncing it then?"

"Well, now you mention it, it is a bit complicated."

"In the French case, it was not always zhemm, tü-emm (he corrected her pronunciation with a real French u), ilemm, elemm, noozemaw~ (he corrected her nasal vowel), voozemé (-ez without a diphthong) and ilzemm, elzemm.

"Once it was more like zhoh Emma, tu Emma's, il Emma, ell Emma, noo z'Amawn, voo z'Ametts, il z'Emmunt, el z'Emmunt."

She missed Edmund as she heard the older pronunciation of "aiment".

"And Italian still has eeaw ahmo, too ahmee, il ahmah, ley ahma, noy ummiahno, voy ummiahteh, lawroh ahmunaw.

"And Latin had egg-oe ummoe, too ummahs, illey ummut and so on. Though like Spanish they tend to omit the pronoun, as itv really makes double service along with the ending"

Which is why she started getting better than French and Latin than she had been in school days, and also how she came to learn a smattering of Italian. Little did she know that a few months later she would be using it. Precisely where the Narnia gang had been heading, when getting smashed in the train.

A few months later, still wearing black for a while, she got a job as a replacement sports teacher. Arrows, swimming, scouting, nutrition, how much sleep you need at any age ... all that was not academic (and she was not the best help Warnie had had, what a pity Peter could not have helped him, he would have been so much more useful, or Lucy too for that matter, had they but known) but of practical everyday value, and cooking and knitting too, household level or girl guide hiking level, there was precisely her mastery.

She did have to pass a few exams, but the Kilns was where she spent some weekends to prepare, and it was as scholarly a place as you can find in all Oxford.