Thursday, September 17, 2009

What chance

Portents and signs. I saw a flying pig today, and wondered what it meant for me. What strange and oddly terrible thing would happen today that would have me saying "Whaaaat?"

Well, it's this: I agree with Michael Laws. And, actually, I'm allowed an opinion on the proposed spelling change for the fair and wonderful ex-city of W(h)anganui. I was born there, and spent a few of my formative years there. There are several generations of the Mathews family buried there, fertilising the already fecund soil.

Whether it be Whanganui or Wanganui, one thing's for sure: neither of them are culturally correct or incorrect. The Maori had no written language, so the spelling was always only a fair shot at a phonetic... sorry, whonetic.... interpretation of what the pommy bastard was listening to when he wrote it down. And let's acknowledge this small whact: he was probably pissed anyway. Off.. oops, let's make that owh... his face. Damn. Whace.

What... damn. I'd like to know the circumstances that led a pommy bastard to decide that the "w-h" spelling gave the "f" sound? Who... sorry. That reads as foo, now. The pommy person that made that decision was surely a whuck whace. There is a very old word in English (see below)that carries that spelling and pronunciation. But that word was out of use by the time the whirst pommy bastards came to this whair land. We have a plentitude of spellings that give us an "eff" sound: There's the f, oddly enough. There's the "gh" in enough. There's "ph" as in Phantom, or ghost who walks. There was no whucking "wh".

The "wh" spelling, as in "what" and "where" was pronounced with a slight whooshing sound. You blow through your lips to make it. So Tariana's pronunciation is good, and is what the iwi use. But if the spelling's changed to Whanganui, then what will happen is this: in two weeks people will be doing exactly as the dim-bulbed TV reporter did, and start talking about Fonganui. Which is culturally and whonetically and spellingly a total whuck-up.

Maybe someone will see sense. Yeah. What chance.

LISTENING TO: Ben Harper, "The Will To Live".

READING: No change. No time. Sob. I'm a librarian with no time to read.

WORD OF THE DAY; Wherry. yes, it's a small boat that took Naval officers from the banks of the River Temes (the original spelling of Thames. Oops. Which is culturally... ah, whuck it) to their ships. It's the fore-runner of the ferry, which (not fitch - that's something else) took peopleon longer sea trips.

MORE MOANA! (Well, Chutty, anyway).

He chewed on his sandwich a moment, then continued. “You know, Treen: in some ways I've regretted marrying your Mum.”
“Oh, Dad – no!” She started to panic.
“Oh, nothing like that,” he reassured her. “Don't you worry about that. No, it's just that -” he was embarrassed, and looked into his mug before taking a mouthful of tea. “It's just that your Mum's so bloody clever. You know, the way she plays those word games with you and Useless, and how she's studying for her Master's now, and me, well I'm just a glorified labourer. You know, I often wonder if she couldn't have done better for herself. Met and married some academic or something, instead of sticking around and being the wife of a ditch-digger.”
“I'm sure Mum doesn't think that, Dad. Anyway, you're a businessman, not just a ditch-digger.”
“Yeah, right: but did you hear what you just said? Not just a ditch-digger? Ditch-diggers don't have the greatest reputation for being smart, do we?” He's got a mind like a razor, that man of mine.
“I didn't mean it like that, Dad. I meant that Mum doesn't look at you as though you're just a labourer, no matter how important and honest labouring for a living might be.”
“Oh, no, you're right there. I know that. I mean - I know she's happy, and she couldn't love you and me any more than she does, but still, sometimes I wonder what her life would have been like if she'd married a guy who had bookshelves full of history books, and wore corduroy trousers. At least you'll have a chance to do that, sweetheart.”
He started suddenly, as though someone had just walked over his grave. “Anyway, enough of that. Let's get cleaned up here and look at getting out of here. The game starts in just over an hour.”
Treen stood, slowly. She suddenly felt a lot older than she had when she got our of bed that morning. “OK, Dad. Then me and Mum are going to pick up Nan from the Church.”
“Speaking of your Mum – do you know what she's up to? I went to go and see her in the spare room, and she went spare at me, telling me to bugger off or it'll ruin the surprise. And sending Russel on some secret mission: it's all very mysterious.”
“Dunno, Dad. She's got a bee in her bonnet about something. Anyway, let's get tidied up.”
See what I mean? Thick as thieves, the pair of them. Shortly afterwards, Treen knocked at the spare room's door, and called out to me that we should go and get Nan now, and that was when the day really started getting interesting.

Chapter Three

“Hold still, Wendy. I know this is going to sting.”
“Sorright, Mrs Wrigley.”
It was a nasty little cut on her elbow. It gaped open, and I thought it should be closed with a couple of stitches, but little Wendy Millar was adamant that no one should be called. She had the beginnings of a good shiner starting under her left eye, and her lip was swollen. Someone had taken to her, and recently.

1 comment:

  1. whucking whunny, you clever bugger. I'm whith you on this whone.
    By the way, on a more serious note, I'm off to Mangaweka for a while - my beloved AK has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and requested nurse Gill... so we depart Saturday.
    Crap it all, having old bastards as best friends is a trial and a tribulation and I wouldn't pass up the friendships for anything in the world.