We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sepia Saturday #122 An "Augh" in the Garden

(Previously posted 8/20/11 - apologies if you've already read it but it fits so well with the Sepia Saturday Garden theme this week.)

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."

or this:

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.

Even though you might have seen this video before, it should still bring a smile and an "augh" to your day. After laughing with this baby, take a stroll over to Sepia Saturday for other garden stories.


  1. I needed a laugh too. That was a great post. Love your 'augh' sign in the garden. It's perfect! and makes me "augh" just thinking about it. :)

  2. I found this post incredibly informative so thank you. I was an English Lit major. We had to read portions of Beowulf in Middle English. Boy was that difficult. I've wondered about the transition from Old to Middle to Modern English.

  3. Hi Nancy, this is great. I had no idea about the hl thing, and am so glad that you found your sign. "Here's your sign!" LOL. Great video too.

    Kathy M.

  4. Lucky you! It's lovely, and who could ever be brave enough to throw away a good laugh? I mean really, laughs are sometimes hard to come by! I like the history you dug up on the word, and we do have so many words that aren't spelled like they sound at all! Great post, thanks!

  5. I'm so glad you rescued that *augh. It should never have been thrown aside or discarded. I could see your picture as a writing prompt. There are so many possibilities there. It looks wonderful in your own garden.

  6. Nice sign in your lovely nasturtiums. and infectious laughing baby!

  7. I love this, because without the L it is sort of like Arghh. Just goes to show you how a small change can make a big difference. I'm off to rip up some paper now.

  8. You have to augh at this; just hope you don't lose your 'L' and become 'adies of the Grove'. I have to say the sign looks perfect in you garden. Still laughing with the video.

  9. Personal photo + a little history lesson + a video = thoroughly enjoyable post.

  10. A great post. I really got a -augh out of that. Very informative. Love the sign in the garden.

  11. A suggestion: you could have done like the "Glee" show and do the "L" shape with your fingers to complete the word.
    I'm just saying...

  12. What's wonderful is that you can make up any story you want when visitors ask about the sign. You can make it elaborate or simply say, "It's personal. I'd rather not talk about it." It will always be a mystery.