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humour, Just stuff (things on my mind that aren't to do with writing)

It’s not what you think…


What ho chaps! What ho, what ho, what ho! I have a day off, and I ought to be bent dutifully over my Christmas card list. But no! A pox on it! I shall write them in the traditional manner late on Christmas Eve, so that my nearest and dearest have something to look forward to in the New Year.

I will write a post instead about what.

At the risk of sounding like Abbott and Costello, what is an interesting word.

You can say hello with it as in ‘Wotcha!’ which I have just discovered dates back hundreds of years According to the Urban Dictionary, ‘wotcha’ is a contraction of: ‘What chere/cheer be with you?’, which was a common greeting . Chere/cheer meant ‘face’ and thus referred to a person’s expression of their mood.

Person a: ‘hello!’

Person b: ‘wotcha!’

‘What’ is used a lot in greetings. What’s up? What ho? What news upon the Rialto? (The last comes from a Shakespearean inquiry about two for one cinema nights)

Then there’s the tired teenager’s method of dealing with parental rage:

Parent: I am not a taxi driver, this is not a hotel, that bedroom is a health hazard…

Teenager: Whatever*

(For Essex teenagers, this is contracted to whatevs.)

Then there is, What what? An archaic, upper class, expression used to prompt an agreement. As in, ‘Awfully chilly tonight, what what? Is it always like this at the North Pole?’

(What what is easily interchangeable with the expression, donchernow)

You can express dismay and amazement with the term, Do what? As in,

Person a: Your mother has run off with the gas man and Arsenal lost at home to Redditch United.

Person b: Do what?

What seems to have been in existence before 900. And its great granny and grandad was the Old English hwaet, and Old Norse hvat.

So there you go. Eh, what?

Image via Creative Commons, courtesy of http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Carl_Larsson_Model_writing_postcards_1906.jpg

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


25 thoughts on “It’s not what you think…

  1. 😀 😀 😀

    Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | December 10, 2014, 9:12 pm
  2. If you mumble the question: Who invented the steam engine? They answer: What? And you say: That’s right, James Watt invented the steam engine. (Nah – I think I’ll stick to Knock Knock jokes…)

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | December 10, 2014, 6:36 pm
  3. From The Wire: (eg Stringer Bell)
    S’up? (for How is it going, my good fellow?)
    And I love Whisky, Tango Foxtrot!

    Posted by penjedi | December 10, 2014, 4:45 pm
  4. You had me at the etymology of “Wotcha”. Whilst this is not an acceptable communicatory device in Ireland, I feel fabulous about now knowing where it came from. I’d better stop short of smug, though.

    Posted by Tara Sparling | December 10, 2014, 2:31 pm
    • I’m glad about that Tara. Always like to please! You might not have wotcha, but do have craic, which I always think sounds rather suspect. I’m only here for the craic. hmm.
      How’s your book, by the way?

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 3:05 pm
    • Not too shabby, thanks for asking! Around the 86/87k mark with 1 chapter missing, or possibly just a complete rewrite of the last chapter. I’m happy enough. I won’t look at it much more until January, though, as it needs a good rest. How are you getting on?

      Posted by Tara Sparling | December 10, 2014, 3:27 pm
    • that’s brilliant, you really did the job with Nanowrimo. Hope it knocks their socks off at the competition.
      I aim to send in 3 chptrs and a synopsis in January, so maybe we could resurrect our plan to work together

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 3:34 pm
    • Absolutely, you’re on, affirmative, and without question. I’ll be editing up until the end of Jan (when I find out competition results) but then I’ll be done.

      Congratulations yourself on your own hard work! So what are you submitting? Can I have 3 clues?!

      Posted by Tara Sparling | December 10, 2014, 3:38 pm
    • Mills and Boon

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 5:03 pm
  5. And then there is the ever expressive “What the F—?” or its more common short term use – WTF!

    Posted by lbwoodgate | December 10, 2014, 2:15 pm
    • oh, of course, hadn’t thought of that. I love wtf! Mind you I did write this at 5.30 this morning. So its a bit fuzzy round the edges.

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 3:02 pm
  6. I was wondering where “whatevs” came from. Our son watches Adventure Time so he’s taken to using that expression. As you can imagine, we love it when he does.

    Posted by David Pandolfe | December 10, 2014, 12:54 pm
    • I’ve not heard of that one – is it a shining mirror of the English language as what she is spoke? (To which the classic answer is, Do what, guv?)

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 1:06 pm
  7. I went to a lecture once when a professor talked about “pah” in a poem for an hour….This is much funnier! And love the picture!

    Posted by olganm | December 10, 2014, 11:34 am
    • Thanks Olga, but you can’t get much worse really, than dissecting the meaning of pah! Mind you, sounds like a great title for a novel. The sequel to the Life of Pi – The Meaning of Pah

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 11:45 am
  8. After seeing the picture it’s a shame it’s not what I thought. Still, I love words and their derivations so I shall have to say , that was fun too.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | December 10, 2014, 11:01 am
    • That’s the trouble with trying to think about what other people are thinking, it makes your brain go all gooey. I’m glad you liked it though. I had to write something, I feel like I’ve been away ages and my blogging brain has gone all rusty.

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 11:53 am
  9. And there’s always *wasssssuuuup* too!

    Posted by Jools | December 10, 2014, 10:44 am
    • Yes! I looked for that on YouTube – you know, the Spitting Image one of the Queen on the phone. But I couldn’t find it.

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 11:54 am
    • I guess those clips are hard to find. There’s a whole generation of adults who’ve never known the joys of Spitting Image.

      Posted by Jools | December 10, 2014, 1:58 pm
    • Loved that programme. Did you see the documentary on it a few months back? It’s no wonder they stopped, the work was total nervous breakdown territory

      Posted by elainecanham | December 10, 2014, 2:05 pm
    • I didn’t see the documentary, sadly. I loved the programme too, every caustic minute!

      Posted by Jools | December 10, 2014, 2:25 pm

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