A Great Melting Pot

I think it is fair to say that at some point or other we’ve all heard someone with an accent. I can personally testify to hearing people with all kinds of accents. I, myself, develop an accent when I try to speak Afrikaans. When South Africans go across to any other country they have an accent, whereas at home they do not have one.

I am going to be starting a brief series around the origins of certain accents and what influenced them.

Living in certain communities can influence your accent. For example, people that live isolated from the rest of the world can develop their own way of speaking; sometimes even better than the current inhabitants of whatever country they are living in. Accents also depended on where they were in the social hierarchy. Children who were offered a higher standard of education, would’ve spoken better than those that had no education. More often than not, the peasants or serfs spoke a ruder dialect than the upper-class lords and ladies. In the colonial period it was not uncommon to send your children to university or boarding school causing them to mix with the children of the same higher standard.

Nowadays with people being so spread all over the world you can have people from every country learning to live and speak as the inhabitants of the countries they immigrated to. These people would also develop an accent from their chosen countries as they would be forced to adapt to their chosen country. As well as developing an accent from these countries, in the beginning while they learn they would take their own accent with them. An example of this is in Africa, where multiple tribes and peoples all live together on one continent and as people would immigrate to towards all their chosen countries they would bring their home accents with them. In South Africa, we have people from all over bringing their accents with them and as they would try to speak English or even Afrikaans there would be a definite accent. Even people from mainly English areas as they learn to speak Afrikaans or even Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho would develop an accent learning those languages. As I learn different languages, I can hear my dominant English accent seeping through. I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this as they would try to learn new languages. As much as they adopt the accent from their immigrated countries, they can never lose their home accent it will always be there even if in a mild capacity.

Another huge influencer of accents is the culture of the individual. The Celts have their own origins in Gaelic and while some speak English, the accent of their culture will always seep through. The English are a great example of how different countries speak the same language, but with varied accents. The Americans, South Africans and British all speak English only with their twist on it. I was in a school where we were taught an American curriculum. We used to laugh. Joking that if we started to argue we’d switch over to the American accent. Being raised a specific way and being taught a specific way can also influence how you speak. If you speak Afrikaans and move over to English, your accent comes with you. Every country has turned into a great melting pot and because of this you will find French, English, Belgian, African, Russian, Japanese, Chinese and so many more in every culture even the English we speak was influenced by the ancient languages and traces of it remain.

One thing that can influence an accent and how people respond is more often than not being misunderstood or labeled an “outsider”. Honestly, I find any accent charming. To me it’s gorgeous and full of uniqueness. People come from all over and bring with them cultures and beliefs. Afterall, aren’t we a world of different nations all blended together. We all came from the same people and have spread out and developed our own cultures from there. I sound different to you, but don’t we all?

I hope you enjoy this new series as I explore the origins of all the different accents. God bless you and stay safe, my precious avidReaders

The Greatest Pranksters

Given it was April Fools’ Day a week or two back, I was wondering about the first prank. Who did it? Where did they do it and what was it?

In the year 1582, France decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar which set the date of the New Year to January 1st. Up until then New Year’s day was always April 1st. The people who didn’t know that and still celebrated in April were considered fools and thus were the butt of a lot of jokes. This gave them the title “April Fools” and so began a long tradition of pranking “fools” every April. Some historians believe that the first prank started in France in this same year.

First Pranks

We go all the way back to Rome, specifically the reign of the emperor Elagabulus (c. 218-222). Known as one of the originator of the famed whoopee cushion, this emperor also had a penchant for leaving tamed wild animals such as lions, bears and leopards in the room of his sleeping, drunken guests. He also had a tendency to release snakes in public. He found this amusing to the terror of anyone who was unfortunate to be nearby.

Our next story takes us to two feuding neighbours. Anthemius was an architect who was at war with his neighbour. One day he lost it and ended up creating an earthquake machine. What he did was to build several boilers of water under his house. He then proceeded to feed a hose from his house through a tiny hole into his neighbour’s cellar. Whenever he got the inclination, he would start up these boilers and give his neighbour an “earthquake”. This prank was achieved by using massive amounts of steam caused by the boilers.

In the early 15th century what was probably the earliest pranks were done by a monk in England’s Syon Abby. He performed such tricks as making eggs levitate (this was his favourite prank) as well as making apples move on their own by putting bugs in them. He seems like he was the life of that Abby, doesn’t he?

Just over 200 years later, in the year 1740, we meet our next two pranksters. These two men decided to publish a fake newspaper called the English Mercurie which was supposedly published in 1588 (this would’ve made it the oldest newspaper ever published). These two pranksters decided to deliver it as a gift to the British Museum 26 years later where it can still be found and referred to to this day.

Then we come to the year 1810 and a prank that is my personal favourite. Theodore Hook made a bet that he could turn any home into the most talked-about address in London. He then proceeded to do just that. He started in the morning with a delivery of coal, then it became furniture, musical instruments, flowers, bread, fish, wedding cake, gardeners, undertakers and even the Mayor of London! All of this occurred outside the home of Mrs. Tottenham who was ignorant of the whole affair. It caused such a traffic jam, that Hook did, in fact, win his bet.

Pranks That Went Horribly Wrong

There have been many pranks over the years that have gone horribly wrong, such as the high school senior who was accidentally shot dead while participating in an elaborate treasure hunt. Then there were students who decided to put laxatives in a chocolate Bundt cake for their teachers and ended up sending two to the hospital with insecticide poisoning (Dulcolax poisoning). They ofcourse thought it was a huge joke, but I doubt the teachers agreed.

There are a few that fall into the category of pranks that went horribly wrong. Here are a few.

An Icelandic teenager falls into this category. The teenager had somehow managed to get the private phone number for George Bush. In the year 2007, this young man decided to call Bush to ask for a private meeting. The young man, Vilfill, pretended to be the president of Iceland. He managed to get through to Bush’s secretary and she informed him that he should wait for a call from the President, instead he got a house-call from the police and was dragged off to an interrogation room where he was interrogated for hours. He was able to answer all their questions and explained that he only wanted to talk with Bush.

Then we have the story of the two teenagers who covered up a stop sign and ended up accidentally killing two elderly ladies as they drove into the intersection and were hit by a car as they crossed. Both men were arrested and charged with reckless homicide.

Two guys were hanging out with a third friend for Thanksgiving (they were staying in Vermont with him). The one friend fell asleep and, in an hilarious attempt to wake him, fired off an air rifle and fire it off near off his friend. He was shocked to find blood spurting out. Later his friend was pronounced dead on the scene.

Our last tragic prank gone wrong, is a young boy of only 14 years old, who was shot dead in a drive-by for egging the wrong car.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with a fun prank between friends, but it’s important that, like in the instance of Elagabulus and his wild animals, sometimes a prank can go too far. It’s always important to remember that safety comes first, otherwise you’ll end up with a dead prankee.

It’s fascinating to note how far back some pranks go. From the very first whoopee cushion to the ultimate prank call, they all have their place.

God bless you all, my darling avidReaders.

Jack the Ripper/The Whitechapel Butcher

Magnifying Glass–Wikipedia

We all know the story of Jack the Ripper. Famed serial prostitute killer. Brutal murderer. Never found or caught. He is famed for being uncaught and even to this day his infamy lives on. There have been plenty of movies and series that have included the famed serial killer. Even famed author Patricia Cornwell has had her say in this world-famous case stating that the post-Impressionist painter Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper, due to a letter found matching his artistic style.

His MO

There have been over a hundred suspects over the years and the list just keeps growing. Ofcourse because of the lack of DNA technology back then there was no way to confirm the identity of someone. There are many who speculate that he lived in or around the Whitechapel district of London as female prostitutes from the East End of London were being murdered. Jack the Ripper, or the Whitechapel Butcher as some called him, had a very specific and gruesome MO(modus operandi/preferred method for murder). His MO was to cut the throats of his victims, mutilate them and then proceeded to remove certain of their internal organs–one such victim had her kidney removed. This is what originally caused the police to suspect a doctor or butcher. Both were soon disproven when they could find no one who was a viable suspect among the slaughter houses or doctors.

Who Did It?

Now that we have a bit more of a background to this famed murderer, let’s take a look at some of the speculation surrounding the murders. I mentioned above that there are a list of suspects that goes over a hundred people. Some of these however are just plain silly. At the time among the suspects were local gangs referred to as “High-Rip” gangs at the time. After this was found to be a faulty assumption, they then began to look into the possibility of a lone assassin. This conclusion came about after the murder of Annie Chapman. Due to Jack’s firm grasp on human anatomy, they began to inquire among doctors and slaughter houses, however both turned out to be dead ends. They then turned to medical students, however this also soon proved to be futile. Among all the mentioned suspects were such prominent figures as Winston Churchill’s grandfather, Prince Albert Edward Victor, Lewis Caroll, Dr. Barnado even the Freemasons made it onto the list. Two men who came on and then off the list were Thomas Cutbrush and Carl Feigenbaum. In recent years these men have once again made it into the spotlight due to modern research and records that were discovered showing that both men were in an asylum. Then came along Aaron Kosminski.

Aaron Kosminski

Aaron Kosminski was a Polish Jew who lived as a barber/hairdresser in the Whitechapel district of London. A sad fact at the time was that a lot of the low-rent boarding houses and brothels were not protected and a large amount of “working girls”, as they called themselves, were beaten and sometimes even murdered. A lot of these working girls lived and worked in Whitechapel and the police had no interest in these activities as long as there was no ruckus caused. So, as a result, a lot of murders involving these poor girls went unsolved. Only in the year of 1888 when Jack the Ripper began to cause a stir did the police finally get involved. He murdered up to five women–two of these within a span of two hours.

This sets the backdrop for the time and place that Aaron Kosminski lived in. Catherine Eddowes was the fourth victim in the string of murders involving Jack. Amos came on to the crime scene and found Eddowes’ shawl. He thought his wife would love it so he decided to take it home as a present for her. She was understandably appalled and rejected it immediately putting it away in a trunk up in her attic. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether or not the shawl actually belonged to Catherine Eddowes as some suggested it, in fact, belonged to Jack the Ripper himself. Whatever the speculation, the shawl was sold to one “armchair detective” Russell Edwards. The well-to-do businessman and cold case enthusiast bought it in the year 2007 at auction as he was very interested in its history–being connected to Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel murders. Despite it’s age, the dried blood on the shawl still held DNA and when compared to Aaron Kosminksi’s sister’s descendant, Matilda, the DNA was too close to leave room for doubt. This all pointed to Aaron Kosminski. Aaron had also been seen attacking a prostitute, but the witness refused to speak up. We see here DNA links as well as some evidence of violent tendencies. Aaron Kosminski was soon sent to an asylum where he lived till 1919, when he died of gangrene.

Conclusion

There will always be people who criticize or are skeptic of the evidence brought out. Ripperologists all over doubt and criticize Edwards’ discovery. They claim that as no one published the findings, there is something that is not right about the DNA research he did. Some even doubt the very appearance of Simpson at the scene. Personally, I stand with Edwards and his findings, but don’t take my word for it. The search goes on. One day THE most famous unsolved cold case in history will be solved.

Till then, my darling avidReaders, keep safe and God bless you all.