To take a Rizzle and a Sloom


I enjoy reading books about words and language. Apart from interest in my language, in history, social movements there is a continuing quest to find out why I’m so rubbish at everything to do with words and the writing of them!:)

However these books do throw up some great little nuggets.

In the Horologicon by Mark Forsyth I came across a delightful word I had never heard before, maybe the American amongst you, may well have as it appears to be your historical word


Apparently it cropped up in late 19th century America and then one day ‘poof!!’ it vanished. The respectable medical community of the day recommended a Rizzle a day as being beneficial to health and well being.

a description written in: The American Medical Bulletin 1890.

‘… How to describe I don’t know, but it is a condition as nearly like sleep as sleep is to death. It consists of doing absolutely nothing.I close my eyes and try and stop all action to the brain. I think of nothing. It only takes a little practice to be able to absolutely stifle the brain.

‘In that delightful condition I remain at least ten minutes, sometimes twenty,. . . I would rather miss a fat fee than that ten minutes Rizzle’.

Not only the word Rizzle that’s sounds delicious but also the state of a Rizzle.

I have been indulging in Rizzling for a few years now without knowing a thing about it, but often I then slip into a Sloom.

According to The Oxford English Dictionary:    Sloom – a gentle sleep or slumber.

I do that also:)

Sleep, sloom, and slumber such gentle sounding words, maybe that is why Rizzle didn’t make it into the 21st century, not soft enough. Sloom hasn’t made it either, too old, that one emerged in the middle of the Middle English period.

It is a shame they are not common words. I like them both so I may well continue with a Rizzle each day with the occasionally Sloom.

I am not a great fan of the apostrophe !:)


I am not a great fan of the apostrophe,

I know,

I know,

it makes reading prose easier, helps with communication and comprehension. There are many things that make life easier, I do not have to have fondness for them.

I found a couple of friends when reading a book on the alphabet the other day. Michael Rosen  in Alphabetical points out a few anomalies such as the missing letter rule.

One purpose of the  apostrophe is to indicate missing letter such as in haven’t = have not

Ain’t, however, is given one, even though there is no ai not or any other version, the word is aint, plain and simple, so why the apostrophe?

George Bernard Shaw referred to apostrophes as uncouth bacilli and in Candide he steadfastly wrote dont and cant. He didn’t win his augment on missing letter apostrophes but elsewhere,over recent years, the possessive use for street names is vanishing as in St Johns Road. I have heard many a heated argument against this ‘sloppy behaviour’ I think the sloppy will win this one, it has to be easier and cheaper to leave the apostrophe out, and really will the road mind that much?:)

Lewis Carroll of ‘Alice’ fame thought people were wrong to write ‘shan’t’ for ‘shall not’. He tried to persuade that it should correctly be sha’n’t.

David Crystal In The Fight For English argues that people have always and will always make their own choices, the rules are not cement, not million year old rock, they are man made by by printers and academics stating their own preference. Rosen maintains there are no missing letter as such we say ‘shan’t’ because it suits us to say it that way. For those who differ and argue that rules must be followed they ought to be including the ‘ for those extra missing letters!

Along with millions of other children I was confused for a many years with the apostrophe used to mark possession. I got it at the beginning; I could write the dog’s, the cow’s easy peasy, then we come across its.

For goodness sake did they have it in for the children!

Possession, but woe betide small children who with confidence add the apostrophe.

In an instant certainty vanished.

I didn’t know the rules!

Exceptions that are supposed to ‘prove the rule’ just confuse those of us whose brains are wired differently, it is not explained properly obviously judging by how many continue to get it wrong into adult life. Maybe if those printers all those years ago had thought it through properly and worked out that pronouns would make a nonsense of their rule – ours,yours,theirs  . . .

I got the hang of ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ by repeating the missing letter rule to myself, however, my confidence was gone on everything else.

When to use that dratted little sign?

I was this way until way into my adult years and retirement, still, even now, when tired or ill or my brain is particularly Dyspraxic the apostrophes vanish and I have to hope for the best.  As Widdershins commented here last week in praise of editors, Blessed is my friend from forever/editor.

I really dont get on with these rules:( I do like George Bernard Shaw though.

Another Man’s Comma :Writer’s Quote Wednesday









My childhood was full of good advice and was surrounded by books from all ages with a free pass to read whatever I wished. Great childhood. It might seem that I took all advice on aboard as a dutiful daughter should. I didn’t. I did listen to those like my Gran’s and parents because, in modern parlance, they were quite cool. I looked up to them and accepted that in most things they knew more than I did.

However, with that free pass to books I also found my own authors and my own quotes, took my own decisions. Not always with their approval!

I am bad at English, at grammar, spelling and punctuation. I have discovered (after retirement) that a great deal of it all is due to Dyspraxia which no-one knew I had all those decades ago but that’s by the by – I struggled, drowning in a chaos of confusion and extra tuition.

Iron rules will not answer. . . what is one man’s colon is another man’s comma    Mark Twain

Mark Twain came to my rescue, much to Dad’s dislike. Mark Twain (along with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland) helped to undermine his patient teaching. He admired them both, as did the grandparents. Dad told me I was being selective, I was old enough by then to point out so was he and not get frowned at.

We agreed to disagree.

It didn’t stop him trying to get the rules into my head, and when later my writing was in the hands of my friend from forever/editor she faced the same struggle. I think I may have improved, I hope I have, in the meantime I have Mark Twain who understands:)

This quote is part of Silver Threading’s  Writer’s Quote series. Writer’s who have helped inspire my writing and my life. Pop over and follow other quotes there are many inspiring posts