Happy Birthday Malaysia !

“Never tell anyone that you’re: writing a book, going on a diet, exercising, taking a course, or quitting smoking. They’ll encourage you to death.”
Lynn Johnston

 

Poem Showing absurdities of English Spelling

 

I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
To learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word
That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead –
For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).

 

A moth is not a moth in mother,
Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
And here is not a match for there
Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
Just look them up – and goose and choose,
And cork and work and card and ward,
And font and front and word and sword,
And do and go and thwart and cart –
Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
A dreadful language? Man alive!
I’d mastered it when I was five!

 

**********

 

Heard it through the grapevine

Meaning

An indication that a piece of information was obtained via an informal contact.

Origin

The first practical public demonstration of the telegraph was given in 1844, when Samuel Morse sent a message from Washington to Baltimore. The invention was widely welcomed as a means of rapidly communicating news. It soon became clear though that close communities already had effective word-of-mouth communications. Soon after the telegraph was invented the term ‘grapevine telegraph’ was coined – first recorded in a US dictionary in 1852. This distinguished the new direct ‘down-the-wire’ telegraph from the earlier method, which was likened to the coiling tendrils of a vine. It’s clear that the allusion was to interactions amongst people who could be expected to be found amongst grapevines, i.e. the rural poor.

In 1876, The Reno Evening Gazette ran an article about a bumper corn and grape crop. They commented on the fact that the people who were then called Indians and Negroes seemed to be already aware of it (hardly a surprise you might think as it would have been they who had harvested the crops):

“It would seem that the Indians have some mysterious means of conveying the news, like the famous grapevine telegraph of the negroes in the [American Civil] war. The Pioneer Press and Tribune says that, while the first telegraphic news of Custer’s death reached them at midnight, the Indians loafing about town were inquiring about it at noon.”

The term ‘bush telegraph’ originated in Australia, probably influenced by ‘grapevine telegraph’. That referred to the informal network that passed information about police movements to convicts who were hiding in the bush. It was recorded in 1878 by an Australian author called Morris:

“The police are baffled by the number and activity of the bush telegraphs.”

In the UK it was the ‘jungle telegraph’ – referring to communications in outposts of the British Empire around the same period.

Of course ‘heard it through the grapevine’ is best known to us as the Motown song, recorded by Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1967 and by Marvin Gaye in 1968. It’s salutary that, whilst the telegraph is long gone, the person-to-person communication that preceded it is still going strong.

 

 

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1 comment so far

  1. melodiepeters3454 on

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