It has come to my attention that a message which I sent out by electronic mail to a list of worthy recipients was received with some perturbation of spirit. Murmerings arose among my intended readership to the effect that the said electronic message was “unreadable”. I admit and freely confess that I, infected with the malady of the age, id est, “attentioniondeficititis”, had omitted three words from the epistle. I made up for that oversight, however, by sending the three words in two subsequent supplementary mailings and although I would be the last to presume anything of anyone nowadays, I did assume that the effort of plugging the words into the missive would not prove beyond the wit of any of my aquaintance.
The nub of the gist was an invitation to a house party. It was the details appertaining thereto that taxed my readership’s comprehension.
The first reply I received was an irritable one from a Japanese lady who enquired whether or not it was strictly necessary to send a message THREE times. On putting the lady right on that matter I received a gracious message of acceptance and no further complaint.
The second reply was from a young American who unabashedly admitted that he could not understand anything at all of the epistle.
The third reply was from a middle aged Englishman who claimed something similar.
I therefore feel beholden to lay the matter out with due candour to the general public that it might have its say. Here then it is, with the three words that were omitted omitted:
be holding a CHRISTMAS PARTY at our place on THURSDAY 28th DECEMBER
which you are invited along with vostri ostaggi della fortuna and
your paramours or mistresses or your intendeds or I wot not.
Behindhand though Mrs H is like to be in attending upon you withal,
the rest of the household will be ready to entertain from the
beginning, videlicet from whensoever the first guest arrives, and we
shall continue so to be until the end, id est, when the last one
leaves, if he does, unless we fall asleep aforehand.
For the rest, I remain,
Your ever mobile sometime never servant,
The three inadvertently omitted words were, “We,” “shall,” and “to.”
Now, I will freely acknowledge that the matter could have been summed up in a few plain words and that the plain style is currently fashionable among our most distinguished gentlemen of affairs and that simple words are best medicine for dull blocks. Nor do I deprecate the employment of good honest Anglo Saxon. It is a good thing to write and speak in plain words of true English stock. Avoid Latinisms. Non scrivere in una lingua straniera. Non essere né presuntoso né esuberante. Non essere copioso.
Forasmuch as I would have that which I have written by all men comprehended, it therefore seemeth incumbent upon me to offer not only this apology but also to fashion a crib so that every swaddled infant and every university graduate might read and understand:
vostri ostaggi della fortuna = your hostages to fortune = your wives and children. Source: Francis Bacon, Essays. paramour = a lover, especially one in an adulterous relationship. intended [arch.] = fiancé – the person one intends to marry. wot not [arch.] = don’t know.
Mrs H may be late but the rest of the family shall entertain from the beginning of the party. The party starts whenever the first guest arrives.We shall continue to party until the last guest leaves, if he leaves, or we fall asleep.
|[We shall] be holding a CHRISTMAS PARTY at our place on THURSDAY 28th DECEMBER [to] which you are invited along with vostri ostaggi della fortuna and your paramours or mistresses or your intendeds or I wot not.|
|Behindhand though Mrs H is like to be in attending upon you withal, the rest of the household will be ready to entertain from the beginning, videlicet from whensoever the first guest arrives, and we shall continue so to be until the end, id est, when the last one leaves, if he does, unless we fall asleep aforehand.|
There. Unnecessarily copious, I daresay, but it can hardly be said to be in the same league as the novels of Thomas Pynchon which some do persever in their aversion to and aver to be “unreadable.”