Thursday, February 08, 2007

You say ghoughphtheightteeau; I say potato

I was reading a blog entry from Tai "Victoria, CA". When I saw the "CA" I immediately thought "California", but since the blog entry had to do with English, I figured she was British. And sure enough, she is from Canada. I think Canada is a province of Ireland. Something like that. I wrote notes to cute guys when I took World History (I was 15; give me a break, I never thought I would have to use these facts). I have not asked her about this, but my gut tells me that as long as I don't confuse her with the Scots, I am okay.

Anyway, her blog entry was really good, and since I really don't want to compete with the British Bitch1, I will summarize what she said:

Ghoti is the new fish.

Ghoti = fish

laugh = f
women = i
fiction = sh

How is ANYONE supposed to figure this stuff out!?!

She went on to say something about grammar, and I sort of skimmed over that part. I of course responded by saying something like, "hey guys, come over to my site and look at my titties." Yeah, I was looking for blog traffic. Kidding. I mentioned another oft-repeated example:

Ghoughphtheightteeau = potato

Hiccough = gh has the p sound
Dough = ough had the o sound
Phthisis = phth has the t sound
Neighbour = eigh has the a sound
Gazette = tte has the t sound
Plateau = eau has the o sound

I think the ghoti word has been attributed George Bernard Shaw as a way of him bedding smart, full-bosomed women. This, of course is false, not because smart women can't have big boobs2, but because someone else probably had this idea first.

What gets me, however, is the word "moot". Not the spelling, but the meaning. From one source, here are the definitions: (1) of little or no practical value, meaning, or consequence. (2) subject to discussion or argument. (3) doubtful, theoretical, or hypothetical. (4) in law, an issue previously clarified by earlier cases or decisions of the court.

Most of us use the word for definition 1, like when we say, "Prata, don't you know, that is a moot point." So we are basically telling Prata that his point has little or no practical value (not that I would ever do that in real life). But the second definition is just about the opposite, because it is subject to discussion or argument (meaning it is not an insignificant thing). Most of us don't know why there are two definitions so different, but here is what one site said:

Let's begin at the beginning. "Moot" comes from the Old English word "mot," meaning "meeting," also found in "witenagemot" ("meeting of wise men"), the name of the Anglo-Saxon parliament. Since meetings of any kind are no fun without a good argument, "moot" as an adjective came to mean "open to debate" or "undecided" by the 16th century. This is the original sense of the word, and was applied to actions at law as well -- a case in court was known as a "moot."

What happened then was that law students began to practice their skills by re-arguing real cases in practice courts -- what are today still called "moot courts" in law schools. Since the cases the students argued were, for the most part, already decided in the real world, such sessions and the results therein were "moot" -- for the sake of argument only, having no real significance. This "no real significance" sense of moot has gradually overtaken the original sense, and today "moot" is generally used as a synonym for "settled" or "irrelevant."

For those who were thinking of breasts instead of reading what I placed in italics, basically it said we should blame lawyers. And I can live with that.

1I only cursed because it was darned fine alliteration. I adore ample alliteration.
2Shakira is supposed to be a genius. I am not sure if she has big boobs, but if she does, this would support my point.


LarryLilly said...

Spending too much time on the box?

your easily amused. LOL

Shadowdog said...

It's often been said that English is the hardest language in the world to learn and the reason is precisely what you laid out. There are no hard and fast rules for ANYTHING. I'd hate to have to learn English as a second language. I struggle with it enough as a first language.

Have you ever tried to explain any of this crap to someone attempting to learn English? I did once and ended up curled up in the corner sobbing nonstop. It's a nightmare.

Leesa said...

larry: the box? And, yes, I am easily amused.

shadowdog: I found this today concerning hardest language to learn: "There is no single answer to this question; it depends on so many factors. However, the British Foreign Office has looked at the languages that diplomats and other embassy staff have to learn and has worked out which they find the most difficult to learn. The second hardest is Japanese, which probably comes as no surprise to many, but the language that they have found to be the most difficult to learn is Hungarian, which has 35 cases (forms of a nouns according to whether it is subject, object, genitive, etc). This does not mean that Hungarian is the hardest language to learn for everybody, but it causes British diplomatic staff, who are used to learning languages, the most difficulty. However, Tabassaran, a Caucasian language has 48 cases, so it would probably cause more difficulty if British diplomats had to learn it." Anyway, I think I may start using Tabassaran (not the language, the word).

Prata said...

And original meaning of "nice" is pretty much the opposite of what we use "nice" for today. Interesting! I learned that yesterday from a doctor passing through my department while two people were discussiong "good" and "bad". With "bad" meaning "good", like "oh, that's a bad car man." that sort of thing.

My name got mentioned again. I'm concerned about that. =-/

Shadowdog said...

Not only a mention but another label! I think she's capitalizing on the popularity of your name in searches and will work in a reference to every post. ;-P

leesa, wow, Hungarian sounds really freaking hard! I was talking to someone yesterday about the Japanese language and he was telling me that a lot of names for things have male and female versions, with the male being cold and professional and the female being warmer. I said "that's weird." And he said "English does it too. 'Father' is a lot colder and offputting than 'pop' or 'Dad.' So you could say that 'Father' is the male variation and 'Dad' is the female version." My response: "Whoa. That's messed up." LMAO

Ian Lidster said...

Sorry -- I was thinking about big boobs -- oh, anyway, your point is definitely moot.
And, your extension of 'ghoti' is brilliant. No wonder I revere your musings.
Oh, and as one, I have to say Canadians are not Irish, except for Newfoundlanders, who are.
So, I'll tell you the tale passed on to me by an old Brit about the sexual tendencies of Canadian, American and English women. It was, Canadian girls want to neither talk about it nor do it. American girls like to talk about it, but not do it. English girls just like to do it, but not talk about it because it upsets their sense of propriety.
Back to you later, and thanks.


Leesa said...

prata: I actually thought about not using your name; I'd hate to be pulled down by DARPA.

shadowdog: it is all about the traffic!

ian: I was just playing dumb American here.

Video X said...


Language is very interesting. And it can be terribly frustrating too!

That is so not the only reason you happens every now and then on here...I've seen it on here before! Plus, aren't you getting voted in for potty mouth? I expect more potty mouth from you then! See how that works. I vote for you, now you're going to go be all politician-like and do the opposite! ;)

Prata said...

I know vidx..she's SUCH a politician. Just when you think she can be trusted..she murders baby seals or somethin'. Tsk.

Pulled down by darpa..*snickers* I think they have launched at least one attack on my site. My database suffered from DOS a couple days ago.

Leesa said...

vx: you just want me to cut the crap and say what the fuck I am thinking?

prata: I have heard that baby seals taste good fried.

Nancy said...

You slay me, woman.

Thanks for making me smile today!

Video X said...

haha...she may have baby seal coats for all we know. I doubt it somehow, but still...behind those never know.

Leesa said...

nancy: thanks, sweetie. I have seen you on ~deb's site and you always make the most wonderful comments on her site.

vx: always keep 'em guessing!

CSouthwell said...

Great post. Love the word plays, and interesting about moot. Thanks for the insight. I actaully saw the Ghoughphtheightteeau on a poster today, and your blog was high up the google entries.

Thanks again. :)

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