All Things Must Pass, according to the pop song of the same name, by George Harrison, and it’s certainly true in the case of You Don’t Say. I began my journey to offer insight into and understanding of one of the world’s most complex, vague, contradictory and beautiful languages in November 2014. One hundred and twenty-eight columns later, it’s time to hang up the keyboard.
My design was to help people better understand the structures of the English language by talking about origins of the words and the idioms we use in day to day communication, which sometimes don’t even make sense in their strictest definitions.
English started out as a West Germanic language, according to Wiki, that was first spoken in early medieval England, and is now the global lingua franca, or common tongue. Named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to England, it is closely related to the Frisian languages, with its vocabulary significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, as well as by Latin and Romance languages, particularly French.
As you know, I have been on a mission to get people (particularly our young and not so young broadcasters) to avoid adopting the Americanization of Canadian English, as the broadcasters are the role models for society’s language, as evidenced by my mission to thwart those who adopt Frazier for Fraser and groshuree for grocery. Ahhhhh!
I also thought it might be useful to offer proper pronunciations for local names which are frequently mispronounced, such as, Pattullo, Nanaimo, Esquimault, Coquihalla, Fraser, Cache Creek and Tsawwassen to mention just a few.
But above all I wanted to have fun. Who wants to be lectured to, so I went looking for strange and fun language issues including some of the weirdest words you ‘ll ever run into such as bumfuzzled and addlepated. I dug into synonyms, antonyms, homonyms and all those other nymns.
Finally, as I prepared this last column, I went searching for the various ways we use language to verbally express ourselves when parting from each other.
I thought I’d simply say ‘so long’ but I wondered what the heck it meant. “So long” perhaps referred to the length of my garden hose, baguette or journey to work. But no, it had nothing to do with length. It was more likely adopted from the German parting salutation adieu so lange, the full meaning of which probably is something like “farewell, whilst (we’re apart)”; Some have suggested Hebrew shalom (or Yiddish sholom), and possibly from Scandinavian leave-taking phrases, in Norwegian meaning “bye so long, farewell so long, morning so long” and Swedish “good-bye for now, with så länge” for now”. But most sources seem to favour the German origin.
I then wondered what ‘good-bye’ really meant. It seems to originate in the 1590s, from godbwye (1570s), itself a contraction of God be with ye, late 14th century. Personally, since the word bye roughly relates to passage or journey, I like the notion it could mean ‘I wish you good passage or good journey.’
At any rate, it is time to close and I wish you all of the foregoing. It has been a joy to kibitz, coach, learn and interact with you through this column. It was certainly immensely enjoyable for me, so I think the best way to close is to use all these salutations and say: bye-bye, adios, adieu, auf Wiedersehen, hasta la vista, so long, and with a tear in my eye, ibbity-ibbity-ibbity-that’s all folks!