November 03, 2006

Elliott Bay in view! Oh! The Joy!

Elliott Bay is an inlet of Puget Sound that forms Seattle's harbor, and so the Elliott Bay Book Company is a terrific Seattle bookstore (150,000 titles) and cafe. If you live in the Seattle area, you probably already know that. But you might not know that Geoff Pullum will be there for a book reading and signing, at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 5.

Geoff won't be handing out money, as he did back in June in order to encourage people to come to his reading at the MIT Coop. However, I hear that Tom Sumner will be there, giving out ("a limited supply of") free stuff. Anyhow, Geoff's readings are legendary, so you shouldn't need to be bribed. And as Tom points out on his blog, the Seahawks' game is Monday night, so what else are you going to do on a rainy Seattle Sunday afternoon?

The title of this post refers to the entry in William Clark's journal that recorded his first view of the Pacific Ocean, in November of 1805, just about 101 years ago. ("Ocian in View! Oh! The Joy!") To avoid geographical confusion, I should hasten to tell you that Lewis and Clark were following the Columbia River, and therefore reached the Pacific 100 miles or so to the south of Elliott Bay, which in any case wasn't named until 1841. Of course, William Clark was also a pioneer of plain spelling, so it's unlikely that he would have gotten the two l's, the two t's, the use of o for the reduced final vowel, etc., even if he had reached Elliott Bay, and known it by that name. He might have referred to "Eliot", "Elliot", "Eliott", "Elliatt" or some other kind of bay. I might have, too, except that I used the internet to check the spelling, and to find you a map link.

Since I'm an interested party, here's what Seattlest says:

>>>Elliott Bay, 2:00pm. It's inevitable that someone would come along to rip Strunk & White a new one. It's the good fortune of every user of a non-fossilized version of the English language that that someone is as eloquent as Geoffrey Pullum. Pullum's one of the prime movers behind the essential linguistics blog (seriously!) Language Log, and the co-author of Far from the Madding Gerund.

Posted by Mark Liberman at November 3, 2006 11:41 AM