Monday, April 25, 2016
If There are Silent Letters, are There Silent Words?
Why do we say ‘in other words’? I can almost understand it when talking, because we’ve perhaps said something politically correct, when we realize no one knows what the hell we’re talking about, so we say it more directly. But do we ever need to use the expression ‘in other words’ when writing? If we find we’ve said something all inflated and bombastic (I love that word), we just go back and edit. That’s why we do that…editing. Or, in other words…
Emailing a friend of mind this morning and we brought up the word ‘queue’. One of the most common definitions for ‘queue’ is to line up. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with its meaning. My problem is with all those extra letters in the word. Did someone stutter when typing it? Maybe they just wanted to write it as ‘que’, then their hand spasmed and they typed an extra ‘u’ and an ‘e’. But why even have ‘u’ and ‘e’ at all, unless they had extras lying around? What’s wrong with the word ‘queue’ just being plain old ‘q’? I mean, we pronounce the letter ‘q’ as ‘kyoo’, which is how we pronounce ‘queue’. We use other single letters as whole words. ‘A’, for example, as in ‘a cat’ or ‘a bat’. And ‘I’, as in ‘I wrote this mess’. So, why can’t we say, “Everyone q up.”? And another question is, “Why does the blog writer use single quotes when he should probably use double?” I don’t have a good answer to that.
Then we got into tonight and tonite. It was never “The Tonite Show”. I have to admit, though, looking at it now, we save a letter by writing ‘tonite’. I’ve never really understood the whole silent letter thing, anyway. For ‘tonight’, the ‘gh’ is silent (Shhh…), so we replace it with a different silent letter, ‘e’. I’m guessing it’s a sort of power transference thing where certain letters give up their power for the greater good of a word. Take the word ‘fit’, for example. You can throw a fit, and I think at one time you might have fit someone, but you take the power of ‘gh’ combo, toss them in, and you get ‘fight’. And a ‘gh’ would be good in a fight, as ‘gh’ begins the word ‘ghost’, and ghosts are scary, so…in other words…
For other word-playish posts, click on the following links:
Keep writing, friends.