Words

Writing all the time and teaching to adult classes makes me constantly more aware of content and causes me to double check things for clarity and accuracy. The use of the English language is certainly one place I always stumble on some contradiction or anomaly, but these anecdotes are food for my workshops as they challenge the students and enrich their knowledge. Let me explain two such ‘anecdotes’. Four hundred years ago, the word pease was used to refer to either a single pea or a bunch of them, but over time, people assumed that pease was a plural form, for which pea must be the singular. Therefore, a new word, pea, was born. The word is best known from Mother Goose nursery rhymes written in the 1700s. Pease is a yellow split pea (or is that pease?) and cooked until it resembled gruel often eaten with meat or bacon. Strange how we use words without knowing the adaptions or real meanings. Bet you thought Pease porridge was porridge made with green peas. How wrong you are.

Here is another one. In Old English, a small winged creature with feathers was known as a brid. Over time, the pronunciation changed to bird. Although it's not hard to imagine children in the 1400's being scolded for 'slurring' brid into bird, it's clear that bird won out. Nobody today would suggest that bird is an incorrect word or a sloppy pronunciation.

CJ

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