The Might of Old English

Description=The Yousuf Karsh photograph of Winston Churchill, taken in December 1941. Description=LondonTerroristsAttacks2005 Description=Used in the Undefeated Supplement 10.07.2005

The Yousuf Karsh photograph of Winston Churchill, taken in December 1941.

Yesterday’s post featured a mighty word with Old English roots. Old English is a mighty language. One person to use it to its fullest was Winston Churchill.

One of Churchill’s most famous speeches ended with a string of phrases comprised almost entirely from words with Old English roots.

We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

The only word in this powerful paragraph that isn’t Old English is the last word, “surrender,” which is of French origin.

I’ve heard arguments that the use of Old English wasn’t all that important to Churchill, as demonstrated by his use of non-Old-English words in the rest of his speeches, but I think that there is a certain might in Old English (and I’m not alone in this view). Look at the speech again. The words are mostly short and don’t leave room for misinterpretation.

Given that Old English is closely related to many of the languages that Churchill wanted to address, it made sense that he would use words that would be understandable across country borders.

Another of Churchill’s famous speeches? Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat. All Old English Words.

Also, mighty is Old English too.

I am ashamed of a stuffed basset hound toy.

When I was about seven or eight years old, my family went around town to see what the garage sale scene was like. At the time, I was enamored with stuffed animals (so much so that I, rather pathetically, referred to them as “friends”) and I was on the lookout for the next addition to my plush pile of pals.

hush_puppiesAt one of the sales, I was sure that I had found it–a basset hound toy that was adorably sad-looking. I forget what the asking price was, but I was sure that they were asking too little for this marvelous specimen. So I took the toy to my mom and asked her for some money.

“Are you sure that you want that?” she asked with eyebrow raised. “You already have a bunch of stuffed dogs and this one isn’t all that special. I think it came free with someone’s purchase of Hush Puppies shoes. No, I don’t think you should spend your money on that.”

I was crushed. It didn’t matter to me where it came from, and the fact that my mom was judging its origin and worthiness of a place in my plush kingdom made it all the more desirable.

“Okay,” I said, turning around. But things weren’t okay. How could they be? And so I began to scheme.

I know, I thought. I’ll just ask my dad for the money. No problem.

So I did.

“What did your mom say?” he asked me.

“She said it was fine with her, but that I should ask you,” I lied.

“Okay,” he said, handing me some cash.

On the way back to the car, my mom noticing the stuffed dog and asked me why I hadn’t put it back on the table yet.

“I bought it,” I said. “Dad said I could.”

“He said that you were okay with it,” said my dad to my mom.

“Well,” she responded, “he has it now, and I’m not to going go asking for his money back.”

I had done it! I had won! The basset hound was mine, all mine!

But as we drove to the next garage sale, I looked my devious acquisition over. It really did look kind of cheap. And I did already have a few stuffed dogs at home. I probably didn’t NEED it like I thought I did at the time. But those things were nothing compared to the feeling of disgust that washed over me as I regarded the basset hound in earnest. I had lied to get this toy.

I don’t think I ever played with it. In fact, I remember hiding it toward the bottom of the stuffed animal pile in my room because I didn’t want to see the reminder of how I acted to get that toy. I hated that toy, but more-so I hated my actions and the selfishness that spurred them.

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Deep Dark Fears meets Delightful Illustrations
  2. Dr. Seuss has a new book coming out. “But isn’t he dead?” you ask. Death doesn’t stop great writers.
  3. I don’t often talk about kitchen gadget reviews, but this is the funniest review of a kitchen gadget that I have ever read.
  4. It is a well-known fact that Victorian age people did not know how to have fun or smile, but maybe the fact is wrong.
  5. As my wife and I work on our house, I dream of doing something like this in the future. The secret door bookcase!