How time flies! As always, I thank my commenters, without whom I wouldn’t bother blogging; this time around, I thought I’d link to a selection of posts, one from each year, that I remembered with fondness as I skimmed through the archives:
2005: DIVAN.
2008: NORMAL.
2010 is the year in which we currently are, so history comes to a .
Addendum. Frequent commenter Sashura has done a very flattering post at Tetradki celebrating my octennial, for those who read Russian. (He calls me “русовед и славолюб” [‘Russian-knower and Slav-lover’], imitating the fictional writer Evgeny Sazonov’s “людовед и душелюб” [‘people-knower and soul-lover’], itself a takeoff on those time-honored Russian insults людоед ‘cannibal’ and душегуб ‘murderer’ [literally ‘people-eater and soul-destroyer’ respectively].)


  1. dearieme says

    Your thouey one was interesting.

  2. Congratulations!

  3. Tillykke.
    Arlo & Janis is celebrating its Silver Jubilee this week as well.

  4. One question I’ve always had about thou would be whether the pronunciation /ðaʊ/ is in line with how we would be pronouncing it, had its usage remained totally current.
    That is: the word ‘you’ has the same vowel letters in it but thanks to a couple different well-documented shifts we pronounce it /ju:/. I wonder whether, had English speakers not more or less entirely stopped using the word ‘thou’, it would still be pronounced /ðaʊ/. /ðaʊ/ has always had the whiff of a spelling pronunciation to me—which is of course silly, because it’s not like large swaths of the Anglophone population would have ever really seen ‘thou’ for the first time in a book of Shakespeare.
    Nevertheless there have been short periods of time in my life when I’ve considered a one-man campaign to reintroduce thou, thee, ye, and (reduced in function) you into our discourse. They have never lasted very long but I must confess that in those moments I have chafed against the diphthong.

  5. And the Quakers are no help in this, because so many of those what keep their T-Vs just call everyone ‘thee’, in all cases. Disgraceful.

  6. I’ve never liked modern “thou”; it reminds me of D.H. Lawrence.
    Very interesting posts though, Language. I’m not so good on style, so I found your picking apart of Simon Winchester very helpful.

  7. I hope he found it helpful too!

  8. @Z D. Smith:
    “You” and “thou” weren’t always spelt the same. “You” is from OE eow, where “thou” is from OE þū. And it just so happens that the /u:/ -> /aʊ/ change is a very regular one: cf. hūs -> house, ūre -> our and hlūd -> loud.
    So fear not; your pronunciation is perfectly fine, historically speaking.

  9. history comes to a .
    Would that not be better written
    history comes to a …
    Anyway, mazel tov! May you blog to a hundred and twenty (years).

  10. I guess I messed up the html… only half of that comment should have been italicized.

  11. Congrats LH!

  12. 8 years! I remember 2002 very clearly. I remember this guy sharing this office with me telling me he was starting a blog. “A what?” I asked. “A blog–short for blogosphere. It’s a new thing, called Blogspot.” “What’ya gonna call this blog?” “Languagehat,” you replied, “One portion of it about language and the other about hats.” And off you went–using that iMac on company time, too…and boy were we nailing down the big bucks in those days–we had to be the highest paid editors in New York City. We ruled the place till they caught on to us. Time, how thou dost change in the twinklings of our eyes. Tempus fugit.
    So I’m raising a couple of cachacas (the way our favorite editrix makes them) to you! Cheers with wishes that thou hath eight more years of languagehat fun and revelations.
    ur fellah blogarian,

  13. Adouma, I am sincerely grateful for your pointing-out. Though I might still end up saying /ðu:/, just oyf tsu lokhes.

  14. Поздравляю, братский привет американским пролетариям пера (и киборда)!

  15. WAR AND PEACE: THE SUMMING UP. was v good.
    The Summing Up bit throws us back to Maugham and I put a quote by him in comments to that post. Since then I discovered ‘Great Novelists and Their Novels’ where Maugham puts War and Peace as number one in his list of Top Ten novels. His essay on Tolstoy is one of the best I’ve read.
    Since you rage against Tolstoy’s digressions, you may find Maugham’s observations interesting.
    And his remarks on the art of reading are wonderful:
    ‘The wise reader will get the greatest enjoyment out of reading if he learns the useful art of skipping’.
    ‘Colderidge said of Don Quixote that it is a book to read through once and then only dip into, by which he may well have meant that parts of it are so tedious, and even absurd, that it is time ill-spent, when you have once discovered this, to read them again. … the ordinary reader, the reader who reads for delight, would lose nothing if he does not read the dull parts at all.’

  16. Interesting post on “thou” (which I pronounce with the dipthong). I’m working on a play right now, in a very early stage, My Visit to America, an alternate history in which, among other differences, the “thou”/”you” distinction is maintained. I actually add a third higher level, referring to someone in the third person by their title, and make dramatic use of the three levels to reflect the changing relationships between the various characters over the course of the play.
    I took the three-level politeness model from a Korean-American friend’s description of the politeness model in Korean. We didn’t discuss the pronouns of the original Language Hat post’s comments, but we discussed verb suffixes “nida” (highest), “yo” (middle) and null (lowest) politeness levels in common use (I see Wikipedia says there are seven, but apparently those are not common).
    The three levels are discussed in Wikibooks.

  17. “Thou” is alive and kicking in several dialects in northern England. As the article says, it died out in “standard” English. It’s usually pronounced “tha” (short vowel), unless it’s stressed.
    “Nah then, thee, does tha know wheer tha’s gooin’?”
    “Aye. If I want thi advice, I’ll ask thi.”

  18. Congratulations!

  19. Congratulations, Languagehat!

  20. Would that not be better written
    history comes to a …
    I was alluding to the end of 1066 and All That, not that I expect anyone to pick up on it.
    I guess I messed up the html… only half of that comment should have been italicized.
    Hattically fixed!

  21. Congratulations!
    Don’t tell my boss, but the first thing I do every morning after firing up my compter in the office is read your blog.

  22. Congratulations, Languagehat! And thank you.

  23. What is most moving to me about this is seeing the names of former Hattics in the comments who seemingly are no longer with us (or no longer comment, at least) …. “Eheu fugaces anni labuntur, Postume, Postume, the years slip away and are lost to me, lost to me!” (only works with the English pronunciation of Latin).
    I will add s.v. normal that when Edgar Rice Burroughs had his “I can do better than that!” epiphany and wrote the first version of A Princess of Mars he sent it to All-Story magazine under the transparent pseudonym of Normal Bean ‘person of ordinary intelligence’, but alas! the proofreader “corrected” this at the last minute to “Norman Bean”.

  24. Charles Perry says

    Re TM’s folk etymology of aubergine, baidat jinn “jinn’s egg”: The eggplant ripens during the season when jinn are thought to be particularly active. Hence the Egyptian custom of saying to somebody who has just contradicted himself, “Adi zaman il-bitingan” — “It’s eggplant season.”

  25. ignoramus says

    Ta for stirring up me old grey cells, always a good read.
    Congrats to thee my fine sire.

  26. What is most moving to me about this is seeing the names of former Hattics in the comments who seemingly are no longer with us (or no longer comment, at least)
    Yes, me too. Come back, former Hattics! Come back!

  27. “not that I expect anyone to pick up on it”: some of us know a Good Thing when we see it.

  28. Happy Birthday!

  29. The essay-let on ‘normal’ is interesting… I went and looked up the OED entry– which includes the ‘technical’ uses of the word in, e.g., statistics (‘normal’ distribution) and physics (‘normal’ modes of vibration).
    FWIW, I disagree with what they say about normal modes of vibration– to me, that sense of ‘normal’ means an ‘orthogonal mode’ (or an eigenmode, to use the English-German hybrid). This is consistent with the normal=right-angled etymology.

  30. Many happy returns of the day!

  31. marie-lucie says

    Many happy returns, and may your blog’s shadow never diminish!

  32. Trond Engn says

    And from me.

  33. peter desmond says

    how great that you’re still publishing. as a bard of eggplant, i thank you for featuring a thread with my work. and as a tax preparer, may i wish you many happy returns?
    a haiku for you:
    early april
    buried receipts burst forth
    deductions blossom

  34. Peter, you’re still my favorite eggplant poet. Thanks for the haiku!

  35. YAY. URA! Happy blogday!

  36. LH, can you unbotch my HTML above that wound up with “All-StoryNormal Bean“? It should have read something like “All-Story magazine under the fairly transparent pseudonym of Normal Bean“.

  37. Done.

  38. Another congratulation, here. And a thank you, as this is one of two interweb places I visit daily.

  39. You’re seeing another interweb place?? I thought we had something special!

  40. insurance homeowners says

    to refer to increased risk due to intentional carelessness or indifference. Insurers attempt to address carelessness through inspections, ,
    [many spam links removed –LH]

  41. Congratulations, although I’m shocked you haven’t thanked your many dedicated spammers for all their hard work over the past eight years.

  42. Well, I’m not sure I’ll go so far as to thank them, but I’m certainly impressed by their persistence.

  43. Happy Birthday, Hat!

  44. It turns out that the macaronic couplet above is from the Ingoldsby Legends:

    What Homer says is
    Eheu fugaces
    Anni labuntur, Postume, Postume!
    Years glide away and are lost to me, lost to me!
    Now when the folks in the dance sport their merry toes,
    Taglionis and Ellslers, Duvernays and Ceritos
    Sighing, I murmur, “O mihi praeteritos!”

    Kudos to the folks at Project Wombat, a mailing list for reference librarians and other polymaths. They found the quotation for me when Dr. Google could not (misled by my use of slip instead of glide).

  45. Well done, and I admire that kind of persistence!

  46. For “Homer” read “Horace”, of course.

  47. That sounds for all the world like the last line of a limerick.

  48. marie-lucie says


    Someone mentioned Shakespeare, but I think most English speakers first encounter the word in church, either in the KJV Bible or in hymns based on it, like “How great Thou art” or “Nearer my God to Thee”, which leads them to believe that the pronoun is an honorific.

    Another someone (I think) mentioned its use in Northern England (I have encountered it while reading the series featuring police Superintendent (?) Dalziel from the Mid-Yorkshire Constabulary), but it is (or at least was) also preserved in some Newfoundland dialects. I met a Newfie linguist who was from a fishing family in a small island off Newfoundland, and who remembered being punished in primary school for using “Thee” to address the teacher. (I thought I had mentioned this here, but perhaps in a different thread).

  49. Yes, it shows up in rural Yorkshire and Lancashire, often as tha.

  50. My father was a working man
    And a collier was he,
    At seven o’clock they turned him down
    And they turned him up for tea.

    My mother was a superior soul,
    A superior soul was she,
    Cut out to play a superior role
    In the goddamn bourgeoisie.

    We children were the in-betweens,
    Little in-betweens were we;
    Inside the house it was you and yours,
    Outside it was tha and thee.

    –D. H. Lawrence (Nottinghamshire, b. 1885)

  51. What does “turned him down” mean there?

  52. My guess would be ‘lowered him on a hand-cranked elevator’.

  53. Ah, that would make sense.

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