With all of the bad news lately—murders, the economy, wars, etc. —just everything in general, I really, really needed a good laugh.
And can you believe it? I actually found one. I found a laugh in the trash. Here it is:
I saw this strange thing peaking out from a trash can on my way to work. I hadn't quite figured out what it said or what it was, but it looked really intriguing. I love anything with letters and words. But what in the heck was this word - "augh". Maybe that's what I really got when I desperately wanted a laugh. I got an "augh". Someone up there was telling me that all I get, all I deserve, is an "augh".
But I still loved this sign. I guess it used to be in someone's garden and the "L" fell off so they just threw it away. They didn't want an "augh" in their garden. But I do. I love this sign. It really makes me laugh. So I planted it in my garden. Don't you think it looks great?:
After I planted it in the ground, I started thinking about the word "laugh." Especially when you now
see the letters that make up this word. How can "augh" possibly be pronounced "aff". How did this become "laugh". So I started researching and this is what I came up with:
"Laugh was hlæhhan in Old English, and my source said it was probably in imitation of haha with a verb ending on it. (We had lots of words starting in hl. The h disappeared. The word lord used to start with hl.) Weird, yes?
English is pretty closely related to German. German laugh is lachen - pretty close. Same in Dutch."
Much more curious in my opinion is the great vowel shift:
"The values of the long vowels form the main difference between the pronunciation of Middle English and Modern English, and the Great Vowel Shift is one of the historical events marking the separation of Middle and Modern English. Originally, these vowels had "continental" values much like those remaining in Italian and liturgical Latin. However, during the Great Vowel Shift, the two highest long vowels became diphthongs, and the other five underwent an increase in tongue height with one of them coming to the front."
Huh. The Great Vowel Shift? Is that anything like Continental Drift?
Well, I'm still confused. But I guess everything about our language is confusing. Best not to question.
But even though I can't figure out how laugh became laff or laf, I still think we all need a good one. I'm so glad that I found this wonderful garden sign in the trash. Whether it's laugh or augh, I don't really care. It still makes me happy.