Friday, 16 March 2012

Words, words, words.

My small grandson – almost seven but going on seventy in his belief that he knows everything – has been getting indignant about words, their meanings and on occasion their pronunciation. He has a regular argument with me about what the letter H is called; is it aitch or haitch. As his schoolteacher favours the local pronunciation (haitch) he refuses to believe his grandfather and me when we try to persuade him that aitch is in fact more correct. We also have occasional differences of opinion about how to pronounce the word “envelope”. Then there are the times when I tell him to get his football gear and he replies scornfully, “It’s called “football KIT”, Grandma!!! Bikes and cars have gears!!!” As I said, seven going on seventy!!!

Today I came across a comment in the Guardian about the use of the word “muppet” to indicate that someone is a bit short of brains. Greg Smith, resigning from an executive position in Goldman Sachs, more or less said that he had lost faith in the bank’s philosophy, particularly the way the client had become one of the least important things to the company. He stated, “It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail.” Without further comment on the ingratitude of bankers regarding their customers in that way, the use of that expression “as a byword for dimwittery”, as the commentator in today’s Guardian said, has caused some indignation. Apparently actor Steve Martin has said on Twitter, “I recently worked with Kermit. Behind his back, I referred to him as a “Goldman Sachs employee.” I like it.

This was from a Guardian blog/feature called “In Praise of ...” . Earlier in the week it had this to say about rivers:

England's drought draws attention to the condition of England's rivers. And England's rivers – with those in Scotland and Wales – have ancient names, often conferred before the Roman legions came, and passed down almost unchanged to the present. Daily Mail spread on the misery that will last all summer featured the Bewl, the Chess and the Pang. But these are just the start. What about the Mease, the Tees, the Dee, the Cree, the Nar, the Ter and the Ver? Or the Box, the Yox and the Axe? Or the Neet, the Fleet and the Smite? Do not forget, either, the Ebble, the Piddle, the Polly, the Nadder or the Wandle. Or the Feshie, the Mashie and the Wissey. Then there are the Lugg, the Ugie, the Meggat, the Tud, the Lud and the Irt. Like these other rivers, the Wampool, the Snizort, the Skirfare, the Deveron, the Cocker and the Stinchar speak of a deep Britain, to which we are more connected than we realise. Or would be if it rained.
There are some excellent names in there but I still have some difficulty believing in the drought, especially here in the North West. It hasn’t actually rained for a few days (note that I said a few days, not a few weeks or months) but there is still standing water on the local bridle paths and it’s still very soggy underfoot. I know that other places have been drying up but not around here. I do know that Galicia has been having the second driest winter in fifty years and has had some unseasonably high temperatures earlier this week with Ourense hitting 27° one day, hottest place in Spain!! Other high temperatures in that lovely bit of Spain were Vigo and Pontevedra with 24°, Santiago with 25.5° and Padrón with 26.2°. The world is a little bit crazy.

Finally, getting back to words, here’s a link to the King of Spain talking at some kind of awards ceremony and asking Mrs. Borbón (Queen Sofía) to let him get a word in edgeways. It's nice to see an old married couple getting on so well!

No comments:

Post a Comment