Friday, January 02, 2015

Qualms, runcible spoons and being ept

Miranda, in the penultimate episode ever of her marvellous sitcom, had qualms about marrying Gary. Or did she think he had qualms? Anyway, she used one of her signature devices and played with the word, qualm. When you think about it you would expect it to have an r where the l is (unless I am pronouncing it wrongly, which I don't think I am.) But what can you expect of a language where a word is spelled y-a-c-h-t and pronounced ye-ot?

Fast-forward to yesterday, New Year's Day. Daughter and family came to lunch. (How wonderful that they can now do this! And go home afterwards!) After eating, GrandDaughter and GrandSon2 put on a performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves for us. Somehow GrandDad and Granny got roped in as all seven dwarves and the wicked queen respectively while Mummy and Daddy sat back and relaxed. Apart from a spectacular performance from the old hag, 'Come eat my beautiful apple, my precious,'  there seemed to be a lot of GrandDaughter pretending to be asleep and needing a kiss from the handsome prince (or Ninja Turtle as he preferred to think of himself). Then having taken their bows GrandDaughter insisted it was my turn to 'put on a show'. 

So I recited - with actions - The Owl and the Pussycat, which leads us to the runcible spoon. Since I first heard the poem I have pondered what a runcible spoon is - but never thought to find out. Until today. And what do you know? It's a made-up word of Edward Lear's! Well, blow me down.

Reading back over this post I questioned my spelling of dwarves. Should it be dwarfs, I wondered. Having my trusty Chambers dictionary to hand I checked. Apparently dwarfs is the common plural; dwarves is acceptable but rare. Except in this house. 

And finally, continuing the wordy theme of this post, why can't you be ept? My young friend complained that she was socially inept (she's not although it would explain why she's friends with me) but how can you be inept if you can't first be ept? You have apt, inapt and aptitude so where is eptitude?

When I am a famous author I shall include ept in a novel and and people will say, 'I didn't know ept was a word but it must be if Liz Hinds uses it for she is a famous novelist so I shall use it too' and it will become a commonly-used word and my novel will go down in one of those books about 'earliest use of the word' and will feature in the Times crossword and be eligible for scrabble. Which means it will have to be included in the Chambers Dictionary and may even be credited to me so my name shall live in perpetuity as The Ept Woman.

And now I think I must cease this babbling. Forgive me: I am over-excited at the return of The Musketeers this evening. Chips on the beach and Aragon in one day. (Aragon? Or is he in Lord of the Rings?) Aramis! That's the one.


nick said...

No doubt the upper classes like to embarrass humbler guests by asking if they would like a runcible spoon with their main course. The innocent guest will no doubt say yes, whereupon the other guests giggle discreetly behind their freshly-laundered serviettes.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I would expect an " r" where the "l" is if we spell it as we say it but we do have "Alm" houses so that is fine !! I am sure I don't pronounce yacht - ye ot more like yot!!! 😊😁

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

The word Yacht originates from the Dutch word Jacht meaning "hunt" and of course it is a boat , which the Dutch navy used to peruse pirates !!

Katney said...

And today we contemplated the fate of the gingham dog and the calico cat.

Yacht is pronounce yot here. I pronounce the l in qualms, and would not expect to hear an r. And I spell the seven little guys as dwarves--perhaps that is the prefered spelling in the US.

Ole Phat Stu said...

Re §1 : Ghoti is pronounced "fish".
Gh as in enough.
O as in women.
Ti as in station.


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Dwarfs or dwarves ..but seem correct , I would use Dwarfs. .

Liz Hinds said...

I have a very clear idea of what a runcible spoon is - or rather should be, Nick.

No, I suppose it is more yot than ye-ot, Anne.

It is strange the way spelling of some words has changed between continents, Katney.

Good grief, Stu, now that's confusing!

I think both are acceptable, Anne.