Sunday, 26 October 2014

Passing- bells

Church bells
Sometimes it's the little things that get to you. A  misplaced apostrophe. A wrong emphasis. On TV last night a WWI drama was trailed and the voice-over mentioned 'passing bells' with the stress on the word 'bells', as if the phrase was using 'passing' in the same sense as a passing thought or a passing pedestrian. This betrayed shameful ignorance of the intended  reference to the first line of the WWI poem 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfrid Owen: 'What passing-bells for those who die as cattle' - which only scans if you put the stress on 'passing'.  Even so, as any ful kno  (except the BBCTV voiceover person)  a 'passing-bell' (emphasis on 'passing') is the word used for bells tolled after a funeral,  just as 'wedding bells' are rung at weddings. The phrase is meaningless  if you stress 'bells'. What did the voiceover person think a 'passing bell' pronounced like that could be? And if she (it was a woman) didn't know - why didn't she ask? Harrumph.