Fan GoH: James Davis Nicoll

Usenet personality, RPG store owner, spec fic reviewer

James Nicoll writes...

I was born in Canada, learned English in the UK, learned English again in Canada and aside from various trips abroad have spent most of my adult life in Kitchener, Ontario. I ran a hobby shop for 17 years and now am a free-lance book reviewer, an occupation that has taught me how to budget. In any given year I read in excess of 40 million words and write about 350,000 for pay, generally but not always genre fiction.

In the early 1990s, I tossed off this epigram about the English language.

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

This turned out to be my 15 minutes of fame and is the statement of mine people are most likely to have encountered, generally in a hacked version sold on an unauthorized t-shirt. Credit for it has been given variously to figures such as Booker T. Washington, an unrelated 19th century painter also named James Nicoll and on one occasion, James T. Kirk. I am sure there's a lesson in this but I don't know what it is.