Our Poor, Neglected H

And now for one of the most misunderstood letters in the English language…

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Accused of being HIGH-BROW or even HAUGHTY, the use of an H is at least controversial. Some groups of English speakers do an automatic delete, and for sure the French do. We can’t blame the use of H and TH on the Norman invaders. Lately I heard a Cockney speaker explaining that if you want to sound like them, “Get rid of the H’s. Don’t need ’em.” Ditto with the TH’s. “Oo needs an H? Ged along royt wew wivoud ’em, we can.”

The other linguistic foible is to stick them in where they don’t belong. “H’Irvin h’Armstrong was here today. He wanted to h’ask you h’if you’d gotten his message?”

But H is here to stay, because we need to HALF– so many things, and because it starts out so many short everyday words we can’t do without:
HURT + HEAL
HOLD + HURL
HELP + HINDER
HIM + HER

Doing some research on the origins of our letter H, I discovered that our H words are mostly Germanic in origin, that their roots go back to a common Indo-European language, and they mostly began with a k or kh sound.
Here, Who, How < kho
Hind (deer) < Kemi
Hip < kheup
Heart < kadia or kerd
Hearth < kherthaz
Help < kelp

The Japanese are fond of their H, giving us words like HONCHO and HAIKU, and who knows how many more if the current linguistic melange continues.

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Dorothy Sayers, in her book, THE FIVE RED HERRINGS, waxed merry with various accents and dropped or added aitches in a realistic way. The book was published in 1931 and she died in 1957, so I’m hoping I’ll be okay reprinting this bit.

Investigating the suspicious death of Mr Campbell, Inspector Macpherson called on Mr. Gowan. When the haughty English butler opened the door, the Inspector asked to speak to the gentleman.
“Mr Gowan is h’out. He’s gone to London.”
In his Broad Scots accent, the inspector explains…
“I will tell ye, wi’oot circumlocution, that there is mair than a suspeecion that the puir gentleman was murdered.”
“So I h’understand.”
“Your name is Halcock, is’t no?”
The butler corrected him. “H’alcock,” he said, reprovingly.
“H, a, double l?”
“There is no h’aitch in the name, young man. H’ay is the first letter, and there is h’only one h’ell.”

Then the Inspector goes on to question Hammond, Mr Gowan’s chauffeur, described as a small, perky man, mongrel in speech, but betraying a strong streak of the fundamental cockney.

“Did ye drive Mr. Gowan onywhere on Monday last?”
“Drove ‘im ter Dumfries. Mr. Alcock comes down when I was ‘avin’ me supper, and says Mr. Gowan wanted the saloon round at 8 o’clock ter tike ‘im ter Dumfries. And I says, ‘Right-oh!’ I says, ‘an’ I can pick up them there pitchers at the same time.’ That’s what I says and that’s what I done.”

As I understand Cockney, this would have sounded like, ” ‘At’s Royt. Drove ‘im ter Dumfries. Mr. Alcock comes down when Oy was ‘avin’ me suppah and says Mr. Gowan wanted the saloon round at oyt o’clock… ‘at’s wha’ Oy says and ‘at’s wha I dun.”

(The WordPress Spell-checker doesn’t like this colloquial post. There are red lines everywhere!)

An Impromptu Tea Party

Looking for inspiration, I rambled through my STORY files this afternoon and found this mini-fiction scene written ten years ago, in March of 2011. It was my response to my writing group’s challenge of that month: to use the words BROOM, FRIDGE, ALMOND and DOUGHNUT.

And I see Fandango’s One-Word Challenge today is IMPROMPTU, so here goes…

THE TEA PARTY

Spring fever attacked me full force that morning when my little girl begged me to come out and play. She said she’d baked a cake and we could have tea. Who could resist? I threw my “TO DO” list on the counter for “LATER” and gave myself to the sunshine, the little girl inside, and the little girl outside.

When I arrived at the playhouse she was sculpting her “Tea cake” that looked like a huge mud doughnut. Using her sweater sleeve as a broom, my gracious hostess swept off one of the chairs so I could sit down. I donated two elderly chipped mugs and a plate of real cookies to the celebration.

“I wish I had some nice sprinkles for the icing,” she sighed as she shredded some grass blades and tossed them on the cake. I had to agree: the green shreds weren’t very aesthetic.

“I have an idea,” I said, taking her hand and leading her to our flowering almond shrub. “Just a few,” I said, “for this really special cake.” How many times had I told her she mustn’t pick these blossoms because we wanted to see them blooming on the tree? They made lovely sprinkles.

She poured imaginary tea into the cups, then took a pitcher of “cream” from the cardboard box fridge and added some to the tea. “Would you like sugar, too?” she asked, handing me a bowl of ice melt granules.

“Yes, I’d love some.”

She gave me her biggest smile. “Mom, you should come for tea every day.”

I think of what older ladies have often told me: “Children grow up so fast; enjoy them while you can.”

“Well, maybe I should look over my To-Do list and see if I can fit a tea party in once a week,” I agreed. “If you’ll help me pick up the toys after supper every day.”

Her eyes sparkled as she accepted the challenge. We had a lovely tea party — one I’ll remember a lot longer than the folded laundry, the cleaned cutlery drawer and the emptied dishwasher that I did manage to do in spite of taking time out to play.

To Be- or not to Be-

Today let’s take a look at the letter

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This letter brings forth a bounty of delightful words, some very plain like BETTER and BEST, some more intense, like BANDITTI, those dreadful BUSHWHACKERS. And then there are the be- words like BEHEST, BEGET, BEGONE, BENIGHTED, BERATE, BETRAY, BETOSS, BETRAMPLE, BEWARE. You can probably think of many more.

And BI- words…And BY-words.

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Image by Capri23 Auto — Pixabay

Did you know that the word BRUSQUE is derived from the name of an unpleasant spine-covered shrub called “the butcher’s broom”? The Latin name, bruscum became the Italian brusco and the meaning morphed into sharp , tart, or sour. The French adopted it as BRUSQUE, and understood it to mean fierce or lively. We Anglophones kept the French version, but added an adaptation of our own for good measure: the word BRISK.

And now a lively little verse that I penned on Saturday, when FLAMFOO was the prompt at Word of the Day..

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I’ve never been a flamfoo,
just do enough to pass;
a shower and a shampoo,
bedecked in simple class.

Never tried to look bepranked
in duds that gleam or flash,
nor as a fashion-plate be ranked
I’d rather bank my cash.

Wash and wear” is my one speed
and minimum my taste;
bedizenments I don’t need,
those primps and perms a waste.

You may lament my brusquerie,
berate my spartan leaning,
but I’ll bypass the frippery,
let others do the preening.

Cheery Thoughts

The Word of the Day Challenge this morning was CHEERY

Earlier today my husband directed me to another blogger’s post, “Last year’s Wisdom” and I enjoyed reading it. Here’s the link. I hope you’ll all take a few minutes to read these wise, cheerful, and inspiring words.

When I was asked if I’d like to play host for the Sunday prompts at Ragtag Daily Prompt, I started a list of interesting possible prompt words. And, being a lover of words, I’ve kept on adding to it until I now have several years’ worth of possible prompts. Now that I’m not doing the prompts anymore, I’ll just toss one of these words into my posts now and then.

One of the words on my list was INEFFECTIVE. Alas, I soon discovered that prompt words should be amenable to photo bloggers as well as poets and storytellers — and it may be hard to illustrate INEFFECTIVE in a photo. But I’ll have a crack at it. (Image from Pixabay.)

George meant well, but his attempts to help on moving day were rather ineffective.

Happy Feb 1

Good morning everyone! We have the first day of a new month, the first day of a new week. To top it off, we’re getting a bit more daylight every day. Last night I refreshed my blog with a new header and I’m on the cusp of a new hobby. Some things to be optimistic about.

Yesterday I listened to a speaker who talked about being grateful for the small things in life, like the beauties of nature our Creator has made for us to enjoy. Right now we have lovely white snowbanks everywhere, sparkling in the sunshine. And a resident something-or-other hibernating under the back of our garage. I see its warm breath is maintaining an air hole in the snow.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is ELOQUENT.
According to LEXICO this means:
Fluent or persuasive in speaking or writing. (A first cousin to LOQUACIOUS)
Clearly expressing or indicating something.

I came across an image at Pixabay one day, taken by Radovan Zierki. I imagined it fitting well with a writing prompt word like THIRST, so I downloaded it. Since I didn’t use it for an RDP, I’ll post it here.

Wouldn’t you agree that there’s something eloquent about this scene? I think of a river of mercy that flows, providing for even the smallest creatures. I tried to capture my feeling, perhaps not so eloquently, in a haiku.

 the heavens open
 rivers of blessing flow
 free samples

A Fond Adieu

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is ADIEU
Word of the Day Challenge: DISAPPOINTED

Back at the beginning of Dec 2019 I became one of the prompt hosts for the Ragtag Daily Prompt effort. So I’ve done it for a year and two months, really enjoyed coming up with word as prompts, working with fellow RDP hosts, checking out all the responses, and leaving comments where I could. It’s been challenging, enjoyable, and I’ve “met” a number of other writers this way.

Now I’ve chosen the prompt word ADIEU because I’m handing the reins back to GGM, or “Gizzylaw,” the host I took over from. I’m ready to let it go and I hear she’s missed the interaction and is eager to get back at it.

My day was Sunday, and while we’re self-isolating most Sundays, I had time to read and comment on most of the responses. Now I’m looking ahead to the day when we’ll be interacting regularly with fellow church members and visiting in homes again on Sundays. I’m also giving this task to Gizzy because I have other things I should, and want, to do. I’m only disappointed that there aren’t more days in each week, so I could fit in everything I should and want to do!

I think all of you are likewise hoping that life and activities will soon return to normal. I hope we’re not disappointed when that day comes, learning that we must continue to be super-careful of germs & viruses. I commented to someone that I’d be glad when we can ditch these masks, and she replied that the sure have cut down on the number of colds and regular ‘flu’s being spread. True, but…we need smiles, too!

Anyway, when I first was accepted as one of the prompters, I was so enthused I made a long list of possible prompt words — and I’ve been adding to that list ever since. So I’ll be choosing one now and then and working it into a post, just for fun.

And of course there are various other writing prompts I may take part in. In addition to the Ragtag Daily Prompt and the Word of the Day (links above), there’s also Sheryl’s Your Daily Word, Fandango’s One-Word Challenge or The Sunday Whirl, where we’re given a number of words to work into a post, or Sammi’s weekend writing prompt. This weekend her word is BEGUILE and the word limit is 51.

And now, ADIEU for today. 🙂