Thursday, December 08, 2005

History Ho's

You can usually recognize a real 'history ho'" by that brief, blinking hesitation and spacey expression in their eyes in the middle of a perfectly normal conversation.
Don't let it freak you out.
It's because they are mentally translating from another language.
For a genuine, obsessive history whore, the language centers of the brain automatically register meanings not au courant with current dialect.

For example:
A claymore - is not a mine.
A jerkin - is not a complaint as in "he's jerkin' me around."
Mail - is not FedEx.
Lance - is not a medical procedure.Visuals are horrifying.
Coach - has nothing to do with sports.
Adders - have nothing to do with mathematics.
Tablet makes them think of weaving, or chisles - not pills.
That ubiquitous back-window car sign, "Baby on board," causes instantaneous concern.

They tend to spell funny too, if they are not careful.
Often "coat" is "cote" or "cott." When they write goal, it is not a hockey score.
Be gentle with them.
They have busy minds.


ali said...

lol, I'm glad I'm not that bad!

Though, when I think of 'tablet', I don't think of either of those - I think of Scottish tablet, which is basically very thick, gooey, sugary fudge. Lovely :).

Robyn said...

Wish I thought of fudge, Ali!

I remember a three hour grrrr over a book I read where a Scot pulled a claymore from his scabbard...on the stairway of a little English inn while running up the stairs...and used it one-handed. Only History Ho's will know why I was frustrated.

Bernita said...

I love fudge!
Ali's mention reminds me of candy as a character reference. Villain ( and that's another word we are prone to mis-spell) constantly ate Turkish Delight. Bingo!

Right,Robyn.That. Boggles.
My favorite Grrrr is a battlefield that smells like a botanical garden or the perfume counter,
la, la, la.

jason evans said...

They have busy minds.

How true, how true.

Unfortunately most of those churning thoughts are utterly incomprehensible to the people around them.

Bernita said...


Sandra Ruttan said...

Ah, so it isn't that they're on another planet, they're in another century. Who says time travel isn't possible? Thanks for enlightening me!

But at least they get kudos for having a mind and using it!

Tsavo Leone said...

Quick anecdote concerning words.

The school I went to (in Carlisle, Cumbria, which started off as an old Roman encampment on the Scottish border) used to have out-of-bounds courses. Basically, we had a week away from school in some historically meaningful and/or interesting place, usually once a year, and usually somewhere 'Down South'. Me being me, I ended up in Stratford-upon-Avon for four weeks and the Lake District for a further four weeks (I was a prefect as well as a student so I got twice as many weeks away).

One particular visit-of-historical-importance taught us how a member of the aristocracy had smuggled letters to their comrades-in-arms inside kegs (of ale, although this part was deemed an unnecessary elaboration by our well-spoken guide). However, upon reading the essays relating to this particular visit the History Teacher collapsed in fits of hysterics. One of the students had written something to the effect that "... plans of the impending atack were smuggled out in their trousers..."

Kegs = Cumbrian dialect, meaning trousers.

Knowing what the other person is talking about is great, but sometimes it actually helps if you speak the same language as them.

Bernita said...

Hi Sandra!
Sanra has done a lot of things. Any problems she might have in writing stem not from a "what" but a "which."
Tsavo,hmmm. A prefect.
Have you read Kipling's "Stalky & Co.?" It allowed me to survive high school.
Language is wonderfully interesting.Especially slang.
I understand one gets a quite diferent reaction, say in the US, if you use the expression "blow me..."
I will be naughty.
A beaver is- in Canada - a heraldic animal, viz the fur trade and all that and a symbol of industry. It is beloved by cartoonists who use it to represent the body politic and is featured on our coins.
A guy who yodels "show me your beaver" is apt to have a nickle handed him.
The problem for medievalists and such is that they are constantly translating from one language to another, and that's why the time lag.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hiiii!!! My internet connection and Blogger have a diabolical plot tying to drive me crazy, not that I haven't already beat them to the punch!

Look what I missed! Your talking about of my favorite food groups.

The history ho' passes right by me as fast as a cab on 8th Ave in NY City. I would need all the historical references explained to me!

Sandra Ruttan said...

Speaking of slang, Bernita, when I was in Sweden I was talking to a German couple, and they found out I played a musical instrument. Well, so did Mr. German, and he said we should practice, "we'll make beautiful music together."

Now, try being 18 and explaining to a married couple why that statement is so funny! Of course, the same guy also said when we were having dinner (a large group at a table together) "I'll cut the cheese." Poor man meant it literally, but he was seated with a bunch of juvenile North Americans.

Bernita said...

Bonnie, the nice thing about history ho's is they are MORE than willing to explain anything historical, sometimes more than you want to hear.

~ smiles~
Did you choke?
Names too, I understand that "God" is a Scandavian name, so one can say in truth "I was talking to God by phone the other day and..." and ignore the finger circles.
Isn't there some place in Norway called Hel(l) - uphill, of course.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Here's the Hell, Norway page:

Next time someone tells me where to go, I'm going to say I'd love to...

In Austria the common greeting is Gruss Gott (sorry for my rusty German spelling and lack of appropriate punctuation). Literally, it means 'Greet God.'

Of course, the Mexicans love the name Jesus. They just don't say it that way.

And for the ultimate in bizarre place names, go to - Guess you really can say someone came from Bastard and not mean it offensively.

Bernita said...

yep, I think there's a Bastard Township somewhere in Ontario, too.
And "bastard" is another name for a species of file.

Gabriele C. said...

Sandra, those two expressions were new to me as well. Writing Historical Fiction doesn't teach you modern colloquial English. :-)

I had some fun with my opera Italian when I once asked for a knife in a restaurant and said, "ho bisogna d'un pugnale" because dagger was the smallest sharp and pointy thing I remembered, besides the various words for 'sword'. The waiter came back with the biggest, meanest knife he could find in the kitchen, one of those you can kill a cow with. It was fun.

Knife is coltello, I did learn it that evening.

jason evans said...

Bernita said, huff!

Not meant as a dig. Haven't you ever felt a bit isolated from others in what you find interesting or in topics of conversation? I do.

Bernita said...

Can't find my notes,(have to find that note) but an early medieval dagger/stiletto was sometimes called a coustel, I believe.Have the feeling the words are related, Gabriele.
Am trying to imagine the look on your face when presented with a meat cleaver!
Having fun, here....Jason,you're switching from mind-reading ( imcomprehensible thoughts) to conversations. Different beast.
And I was just asking for a little compassion for our mental interruptions...

Mark Pettus said...

Bernita, I'm guessing you are aware of that peculiar breed of history ho indigenous to the Southern U.S. - The Civil War Bore?

I've actually spent days with a man large enough to wear a claymore on his hip... while he was wearing a claymore on his hip. Have you always felt like you were born in the wrong century?

Sandra Ruttan said...

"Writing Historical Fiction doesn't teach you modern colloquial English."

No, it doesn't!

Bernita said...

Out of place, out a time, an alien child.
Not that I am not extremely grateful to have been born in this one!
Extremely pleased with internet, antibiotics,etc.,etc. I kiss my washer and dryer every night.
Often claimed without foundation by self-dramatizing people, but I do think I would have risked being hung, burned,drowned or pressed as a witch in a less tolerant time - based on mouth, eyes and a genuine birthmark.Especially mouth.
One thing I like about the early Middle Ages is their neo-Platonic tolerance of a dual world.