The punny ring of acrobatic aphorisms is a panacea, and a pirate ...

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A WORD IN THE HAND: ASTERIX

The punny ring of acrobatic aphorisms is a panacea, and a pirate impediment

A column to satisfy your inner grammar nerd

Deputy features editor: Sunday Times

People sometimes ask me what they can do to make their children love language. Apart from promising them a pet hedgehog if they read poetry aloud (you don’t need to understand why the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold to appreciate the thunderous rhythm with which he did it) I have three words: As. Ter. Ix.

Some may think Messrs Goscinny (writer; born August 14 1926; died November 5 1977) and Uderzo (artist; born April 25 1927; died March 24 2020) were mere makers of children’s picture books. They would be wrong.

I am but one of legions who first had their funny bones tickled by these masters of the acrobatic aphorism. I wasn’t clever enough to follow their rubber-tongued linguistics in French (children in France are such geniuses; they can speak French by the time they’re, like, two or three), but the English contortions performed by translator Anthea Bell (born May 10 1936; died October 18 2018) were just as supple...

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