27 October 2011

Listy Loo Strikes Again

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Let's take something you are totally not interested in - say, The Dictionary

But did you know that before dictionaries were in the hands of most,
people in England wrote phonetically?

You can see how this would be problematic
when pronunciation of words varied so much within the country,
even within London

(and explains why I have trouble reading old English literary works)

in Wiltshire

Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language (1755) 
is hailed as the first modern English dictionary, 
written with reliable text references and arranged alphabetically, 
instead of by topic as organized previously

It was the standard dictionary for 150 years 
until the Oxford English Dictionary was published in 1928

Taking nearly 50 years to complete,
the OED is the most trusted English language dictionary today, 
revised and updated every three months

In the US, most Americans are familiar with Noah Webster, 
the father of the American Dictionary
{ think Webster Dictionary }

After twenty seven years of writing 
and learning twenty-six languages to evaluate the etymology of words,
Webster published An American Dictionary Of The American Language in 1828

Winston Churchill indulged his passion for writing and painting here at his home, Chartwell

Previously a teacher, Webster found English spelling rules 
unnecessarily complex, too aristocratically British, and with the need to be controlled by the people

Therefore, he intentionally accentuated differences in meaning and pronunciations of some words

One hallmark was altering the spelling of words such as 'colour' with 'color', 'centre' with 'center'
Webster added American words such as 'skunk' and 'squash' not found in English dictionaries

And interestingly, Webster included technical terms from the arts and sciences 
rather than just literary words

Truly transforming American English

At the time, Webster's dictionary was seen as radical and political 
during a time of national identity crisis and instability 
after American independence in 1776

Today, Webster dictionaries sit on the shelves in countless US homes and schools

Who could say the history of the dictionary was dull?

aka English Oak with its lobed (not sharp) leaves

I mention this because my 'Listy Loo' today is filled with
interesting words that hurled me to the nearest dictionary

Let's start with the adorable word, Wendy house

It is a general term for a playhouse, 
named after the house Peter Pan builds for Wendy in J. Barrie's Peter Pan
Love it!

Available from Blue Forest

Wattle and daub is the interweaving of twigs 
plastered with a mixture of clay, lime, water { and sometimes straw } 
to form a wall of a building

England's period timber framed houses were often made of wattle and daub

It became less popular by the 17th and 18th centuries due to 
the popularity of brick and stone construction
the risk of fire
and the problem of criminals breaking through a wall
{ yikes! }

It remains architecturally charming to me

'Wattle and daub' likely used in this timber framed home

Fairy cakes are similar to the American cupcake
often with flat hard icing

by Jessica's Cupcakes in Oxford

I was surprised how the European Robin looks so different from the American one,
so small & dainty and much revered in English folklore

via Wikipedia

The Common Blackbird is unrelated to the obnoxious New World blackbirds

These lackluster birds shine with their absolutely beautiful melodic song in early spring mornings
- a great way to start the day -

via Wikipedia

Not winning any health awards,
I need to try a Chip Butty - a sandwich of french fries
common in Birmingham and northward

via wikiHow

This interesting 'hatted' building is an oast house, designed for drying hops
Not in use anymore, but really picturesque in the Kentish countryside

Oast House at Sissinghurst Castle

During the summer riots in London, I heard the troublemakers referred to as YOBs

You may have noticed this is 'Boy' spelled backward, 
to indicate the antithesis of what a good boy should be
-rude, obnoxious, violent, and stupid -

Apparently it was coined in England in the 18th century 
when it was popular among the upperclass to speak backward 

Yob is still a word used today

I love the idea of speaking backward to indicate an opposite meaning, don't you?
Perhaps my gibberish really means something?

And last, this unusual conifer originates from Chile
 and first planted in England during Victorian times

Its common name, the Monkey Puzzle Tree
was given by a group of friends in Cornwall in 1850 
figuring it would be a puzzle for a monkey to climb

{ although I'm pretty confident monkeys don't live in Chile }

Monkey Puzzle Tree at Leith Hill

I have many many more words on my list, 
but I will stop here
leaving you wondering the meanings of 
haw-haw (ha-ha), cordwainer, and twee

- probably all known by my British readers - 

all photos by me unless otherwise stated


See you Monday for Post Of The Month Club


And click here to see my current giveaway  :)

Have an awesome day!

P.S. Excuse the inconsistent spacing between lines - I've been unable to fix it

Linking to: Monday Rewind


little macaroon. said...

When I went to live in London (from Scotland), my English office mates were baffled by the number of "h" words I used that they had never heard before. High heidyin, hee haw, and havering all spring to mind (especially as the boss came from Havering!)

Lovely post!

Ellie said...

What an interesting post - a lot of things there I didn't know. I think up here in Scotland we have our own wee language.
Just wondering did you try your chip butty and did you enjoy it. It's been years since I had one. lol.

Ola said...

The "hatted" houses look so original!

topchelseagirl said...

Great post. That wendy house/tree house is adorable. A chip butty is much better with big fat chips than french fries!

Hines-Sight said...

Love, Love your photos. That playhouse is adorable.

Jane said...

Ooh, the logophile in me is swooning, Laura! Especially as our history as a British colony meant that so many of those wards are familiar to me. And let's *so not touch* the issue of the Americanisation of Australian spelling ☺. J x

Anne said...

That first cottage is so beautiful and so are all the other photos. Thank you for sharing!

lisaroyhandbags said...

I learned so much from your post! So we have Webster to thank for all the confusion us Canadians have? :)

chris said...

I love how cultures evolve over time. Americans owe so much to England, and yet we are so different over 200 years later. Loved this post. And I love reading dictionaries precisely because I enjoy learning fun tidbits. :)

TexWisGirl said...

this was fun! always amusing to hear/learn terms used in other countries. :) i've heard of 'twee' and wonder if it has the same meaning to you as it does here. :)

Jennifer said...

Lovely photos as always and what an interesting post! I've always wondered who was to blame for our differences in spelling and pronunciation. :) Now, to look up those last three...

Pet said...

A colorful account, or should I say a colourful account :-)

Joyce said...

The words, phrases, and language in general may be my favorite thing about England : )

Magali @ The Little White House said...

I love the "Wendy House"... And I had no idea that sandwich existed... I'm NOT looking forward to try it! I'm off to do my homework, checking new words I know nothing about...

Susan Kane said...

Is there a cottage for sale near you?? Cheap?

I love the photos, the language you shared. My husband would love the chippy sandwich, IF I let him try it.

Mini-holiday, reading your blog.

Barbara said...

I feel like I just learned so much! It's no wonder that when I spent 3 months in Manchester I felt like everyone was speaking a foreign language to me!

Gail Dixon (Louisiana Belle) said...

Fascinating stuff here! Thanks for the lesson!

Erin S. said...

I didn't realize Noah Webster is responsible for institutionalizing "American" spelling. I like the English spellings better. Oh well. I loved hearing and recognizing the differences while we lived there. I also love the word twee--there is no real equivalent in American English, and sometimes you just see something that needs be described as "twee". It's nice to have so many variations of English to work with :).

Zosia said...

A dictionary boring? - NEVER! I studied Linguistics (among other things) and I love words, their etymology, how they change meaning overtime, how they change when adopted into another language, etc, etc. - it's fascinating! An interesting book by Simon Winchester about how the Oxford Dictionary was created "The Professor and the Mad Man" http://www.amazon.ca/Professor-Madman-Insanity-English-Dictionary/dp/006099486X .
I think that British English is much more creative and fruitful in coming up with new words. It's especially visible in comedy or even in swearing. Anyway, I'd better stop here because it will become the longest comment in the world :-).
BTW - I want to live in the house from the first photo.

Emily said...

I'm adoring the European Robin! Well that explains it . . . I'm a poor speller (American). Perhaps that's due to my heavy British reading?

Eli said...

More, more, more...I love wordplay and this was a feast for the reading. Loved it.

GirlSprout said...

Hmm, I didn't know that we have Webster to thank for color and center. What about judgment and acknowledgment? I think in the UK, they're spelled judgement and acknowledgement with an extra "e."

Pieces of Sunshine said...

Very interesting. I love all your photos of buildings, each one delightful.

Pondside said...

I recognised all but one word - great list!

lizzybradbury said...

You definitely have to try a chip butty - it's totally English and totally tastey! Also, I know the meaning of 'haw-haw' I think - At least if it is a type of landscaping I do. And twee I know, but what is cordwainer?

This was such an interesting blog, I love learning the origin of words and having an American take on it is so interesting and makes me realise we really do have some random words of here in England!

Lizzy x

Naturally Carol said...

I live in Australia and chip butties are popular here too, we have an Oxford Dictionary on the shelf and yobs are known as yobbos here. We have also taken the English language and made it our own with our own slang and terminology. An interesting post!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@Lizzy - you are right about the haw-haw. A cordwainer typically makes shoes, whereas a cobbler repairs them. And twee (not that you asked) is something overly cutesy :)

beetree said...

I love that first picture! What type of roof is that? So much wonderful info to digest. :) Love the Wendy house! And not so much the chip butty...I could feel mine expanding just looking at the picture! :)

Pom Pom said...

Oh, I love all the words you chose. Wendy house is a lovely term, isn't it? Fairy cakes beats cupcakes, too.
Thank you!

My Garden Diaries said...

Ok Lady! WOW! Thank you for teaching me something new today! There were many words that I have never even heard of...then again I have never seen a sandwich made out of french fries! LOL...Cheers! Nicole

Lily Riani said...

this is soooooo interesting.... so many things i was unaware of, even a simple cupcake. thanks! a good weekend lesson.

Privet and Holly said...

Laura, I SO enjoyed this.
Because one of my best
friends is a native Kiwi
from New Zealand, I have
heard the term Wendy House
and Fairy Cakes and always
think it is charming when
she uses them! I love all
your accompanying pics...
Great post!
xx Suzanne

Celestial Charms said...

I must have a chip butty! Looks delicious. :)

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

I enjoyed your list and never knew the origins of yob (despite using this word often - which is more than can be said for cordwainer). Your chip butty picture is not!...a chip butty that is. Chips should be big and chunky and made from real chunks of potato. Those are indeed french fries, the aberation of a chip in my opinion! :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...

@Sally - see, now I had always thought chips and french fries were the same thing. You all have taught me they are not - so now to add to my next Listy Loo ;)

Saun said...

What an interesting post with lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing

barefoot mama said...

Your blog is so interesting and beautiful! I think I may just stay here all day and read:)

Nat said...

I'm so happy you posted on my blog so I could find yours! I Love it! I have a secret obsession with all things British so your blog is perfect for me! Thanks!

Ali said...

I'm a Canadian living and working in England and have done so for the past decade. Its a continuous learning process, isn't it. Really pleased to have found your blog!

Chip butty and the equally bizarre fish stick sandwich or "fish fingers" as Brits call them. Plainly, the English aren't bothered by all those carbs. LOL!


DGMommy Tamara said...

Loved the dictionary low-down. Love learning new things, especially as we've just moved from Michigan to Hampshire. Just yesterday I apologized (apologised) to my daughter's teacher because I'm likely spelling so many words "wrong" in her home-school book!
Nice to have found your blog!