Each week here at the Australian Writers’ Centre, we dissect and discuss, contort and retort, ask and gasp at the English language and all its rules, regulations and ridiculousness. It’s a celebration of language, masquerading as a passive-aggressive whinge about words and weirdness. This week we're pouring ourselves a cuppa and inspecting our pores…
Q: I had a great time while I was on holiday, pouring over newspapers and magazines…
A: Have they dried out yet?
A: What did you pour on them? Water? Custard? Or maybe it was Prosecco…
Q: You’re being rather silly right now. I meant that I just spent a whole day lazing about on my bed reading through magazines and newspapers. It was bliss.
Q: No, we said “bliss”.
A: Right, yes. So, do you want the good news or the bad news?
Q: Or the fake news? Hahaha.
Q: Okay, um… the good news?
A: The good news is that you had a lovely time that day reading those magazines and newspapers.
Q: The bad news?
A: You don’t “pour” over things like that – you “pore” over them.
A: They’re not cornflakes.
Q: I feel like everything I’ve ever known is a lie.
A: Calm down drama queen. Allow us to explain.
Q: It’s like when Keanu Reeves discovers he’s in the matrix, you know, in that film… what’s it called?
A: The Matrix?
Q: Oh yes, that’s the one. I’m shocked. I assumed that I “pour” my attention, my heart, my soul into reading these things. I didn’t know that it was to do with “pores”.
A: You were expecting women walking about with clipboards and wearing white lab coats while talking about skincare?
Q: Don’t forget the glass sliding doors.
A: True. But, “pore” as a noun is one thing – but here we’re dealing with “to pore” as a verb. And “to pore” in that context means to study something closely or be absorbed in it. The noun comes from Latin “porus” – as in an opening, but the verb has an entirely different backstory – from Middle English “peer”.
Q: As in to be judged by your peers?
A: No, as in to peer at something intently.
Q: Ahhhh, okay. So that makes more sense I suppose.
A: It does.
Q: So just to recap… If it’s pouring outside and I’m not particularly time poor, I’ll pour myself a cuppa and pore over the newspapers, being careful to avoid my dog’s paws and munching on pawpaw, por favor!
A: It left the tracks at the end somewhat, but yes, we think you’ve understood it.
If you have a grammar gripe or punctuation puzzle that you’d like our Q&A to explore, email it to us today!