Erica O, Grant Barrett, Martha Barnett discussed on A Way with Words: language, linguistics, and callers from all over


On or later. And so that's how we got that spelling. Which is fine. So by the 17th century, that spelling had changed. And so that's the short version of the story. But the strange thing about this is the French didn't spell aisle with an S either originally, but they spelled it IL or Y Ali. So how did that get there? There was another whole batch different batch of scholars who tried to improve French by making it more like Latin. And they noted that il E meaning island was derived from the Latin insula, which met island, and so they changed to be spelled ISL E and that's what was borrowed into English and give us our word island today. But that didn't last and later the S because it was no longer unpronounced in French, they got rid of it. And now they went back to spelling aisle as and they put a little circumflex, which is like a little upside down hat over the eye to indicate that the S was once there. So we don't pronounce the S in island because the French don't pronounce the S and aisle, and that is the word that we borrowed from the French. That's interesting. We have a lot of these kind of historical remnants in our language. When you see something curious, like a letter not being pronounced, it is a really strong clue alley that there's a story there. And in this case, it tells us that the island came to us from French. And so we have this little note that says there's a word history here. I am has a little bit of French history that S is not pronounced in the French. Therefore, we don't pronounce it in this word island. So I'm going to recommend a book. It's by Erica o'quinn okay R ENT. It's called highly irregular why tough through and dough don't rhyme and other oddities of the English language. It's a very accessible book, their cute cartoons in it. And it tells you a lot of these stories like why there's an H in the word ghost, for example. So you might look for that book. Yeah, actually sounds really interesting. Well, ally, good luck in school. Thank you for your call. We really appreciate it. And keep your enthusiasm going. It'll get you far. And thank you for allowing me to be on the show. Oh, our pleasure. As always, have you? Yeah. Take care now. Bye bye. So pick up that phone and call us 877-929-9673. We'd love to talk with you about your language question or send it to us in email. Words at wayward radio dot ORG. Away with words is about language seen through family, history, and culture. Stay tuned for more. You're listening to away with words the show about language and how we use it. I'm grant Barrett. And I'm Martha Barnett. In the early 1830s, Margaret Scott gatty took note of a sundial that was on the porch of the church that her husband pastured in Yorkshire, England, and inscribed on that sundial were the rhyming Latin words fugit hora aura. And that translates as the hour flies. Pray. In a cottage nearby, also had a sundial, but it bore a Latin inscription that translates as there are no steps backward. And another neighbor had a sundown with the Latin words that translate as I wait for no one. And Margaret Scott Getty was so intrigued by these inscriptions that she started collecting them. And then as often happens when you start collecting things, her friends started collecting them for her. And she went on to become a popular writer of children's books, and she kept collecting those inscriptions in an 1872, she published a beautiful comprehensive book on the topic. It's called the book of sundials, and it was later revised with her daughter's help, and it's just gorgeous. It's full of fascinating information about sundials, and it includes 1682 examples of sundial mottoes. And one of the things I love about these mottos, they've been described as more touching than tombstones. There's something kind of meditative about them, a little bit melancholy, and a good reminder to be mindful of making the most of the hours that we have on earth. And I first became aware of them when I listened to the S town podcast where journalist Brian Reed interviews a clockmaker in Woodstock, Alabama, who points out that when you see a sundial, you should always go look at it because there will always be some kind of inscription on it. And so I was thrilled to pieces when I came across this book. Yeah, the book is amazing by the fourth edition. I think which was published in 1900. It is a phenomenal work. It's beautiful to look at amazing to read. Many of them are religious because they sundials tend to appear in churchyards. And as you said, many of them talk about using your time wisely. But some of them don't one of my favorite ones is in German, but it translates into somewhat archaic English as he hath made his choice a right, who count it but the hours of light basically saying you can use your time well, but you should also make Mary, which I think is important advice to all of us. And there are the well, the kind of mystical ones, like one written in Latin in a churchyard, southeastern France right on the border with Italy. It translates as the light makes shadow, but the truth makes mysteries which makes you just want to turn right around and leave that churchyard. Pursued by who knows what? I don't know what's happening there, but I just want to know what time it was. I forgot my watch. It's just interesting all these brief ruminations on time and how we spend our time and what will become of us when our time is done. There are several beautiful copies of this book online. We'll link to them from our website and you can explore them and find your favorite sundial mottos. Or you can share little epigraphs or epigrams or little phrases or things that you found in your reading that you think are wonderful and that we should know about and that we can share with everyone else. Let us know in email words at wayward radio dot org or tell us on the telephone 877-929-9673 is toll free in the United States and Canada. Hello, you have a way with words. Hello, this is Kayla Meyer calling from Omaha Nebraska. Hi Caleb, welcome. Thank you. Well, I'm calling in because recently our elderly dog has been having lots of accidents in the house. He gets scared by weather changes and thunderstorms, all of the above. And my husband keeps saying that our dog is pissing everywhere in the house. And I told him, can you please not use the word piss to describe his accident? There's a whole bunch of different words. I think you could use. But then when I was telling him this, I realized I said, I'm so pissed that you keep using the word piss. Yeah. First of all, I'm sorry about your dog. That's really tough. But what word would you prefer he used? I said, I prefer if he said our dog peed in the house, or just had an accident. And I don't know why, but I just find the word piss to

Coming up next