Why Do We Say That?

Word Play

Installment #1: HOGWASH!

As a writer, I ponder not just words and how to string them together into some sort of interesting and entertaining tale, but the meanings behind certain common words and phrases. With this thought in mind, I am going to start posting, hopefully on a regular basis, a little thing I’m going to call “Why Do We Say That?”

Our first installment is the word, “Hogwash”.

No, sorry, nothing to do with the actual washing of pigs or those motorcycles known as Hogs.

Believe it or not, hogwash is neither slang nor some sort of modern term. It’s been around for centuries! Its earliest use can be traced back to around 1440 by the Oxford English Dictionary which uses it in the following sentence; “They in the kechyn, can iape, poured on here hefd hoggyswasch.” or to the rest of us, “They in the kitchen, for jest, poured the hogwash on her head.”

But, what is hogwash and why would someone find amusement pouring it over another’s head?

There are three early variations on what substance is being referred to as hogwash. In the mid-15th century, a definition can be found that states hogwash is a compound noun formed by two nouns. The first word, hog, refers to a type of swine, a pig. Easy enough to understand. Wash, in this instance, has to specifically do with cleaning up a kitchen. A wash was the waste liquid and food left over from making and serving a meal, the leftovers that were not fit for human consumption. This concoction was all dumped together and used to feed all manner of domestic animals, most commonly, pigs.

By 1712 another meaning was added to the term. A cheap, poorly made liquor was often referred to as hogwash. Poorly written documents and manuscripts were labeled as hogwash around 1773.

In modern English, if something is said to be hogwash it means it should be tossed away. It’s useless or of little value, illogical, badly done, ridiculous, and invalid. Simply put, it has as much value to the human race as that savory barnyard slop that gets tossed to the pigs at the end of the day.

And now you know why we say that.

Sherlock Holmes To The Rescue!

Adventures / Murder-Mystery / Writer's Life

When we first started talking on Skype I never really thought he had much of an accent. So, how come now that we’ve been living together in the North for almost eight months, I’m starting to hear it?

As some of you know my boyfriend is from Texas. His father was in the Air Force for many years and the family moved around a lot. He’s lived in Germany, France, Colorado, New Mexico and several other Southern states but Texas was always home to them and it was to Texas they all returned and lived once Dad’s military days were over. Living in so many places as a kid certainly tempered the Southern sound of his voice compared to his parents. His mother, for instance, seems to think ‘Jim’ is a two-syllable name, Jee-im. Sherlock Holmes would have a field day in our house what with my mom insisting that the part of your mouth your teeth are embedded in are called GOOMS and that you can carry your lunch in a paper BAGE. WTH, Mom? Where’d you learn to talk? Oh, wait. Not even twenty miles from where I did. Go figure!

Shortly after he moved up here, he noticed how much I use the phrase, ‘what-not’. Apparently of all the BIG things they have in Texas, the phrase ‘what-not’ is not one of them.  It quickly became a joke and we started adding ‘what-not’ onto the end of as many sentences as possible. In exchange for him adding ‘what-not’ to his vocabulary it was decided I should start saying ‘fixin’ more often. As in, “We’re fixin’ to go down to the store.”  It has provided us with much more amusement than it probably should but we tend to be easily amused (and what-not).

The other night we were playing ‘Second Life’ and he started talking about a mutual friend of ours, Al – as in short for Albert. We met Al at a place called Crack Den. Fun to RP with but as we haven’t been there in nearly two months now, haven’t  seen him.  “Jee-im” says we’re going to have to get Al a motorcycle for the new area he’s been exploring lately. It’s a lot like Crack Den. I’ve not been there myself as of yet. Anyway… SL motorcycles don’t come cheap and I’m thinking, “Why would he buy Al a motorcycle when we haven’t even seen or heard from him in two months?”   I ask, “Is Al even there?” He shakes his head a bit and says he doesn’t know. And I’m like, “So, why would you want to buy him a motorcycle?” He replies, “As the new Sergeant At Arms in the MC he should have a bike.”  And then it hit me. He wasn’t saying AL at all. He was saying OWL.  I start laughing.  I know very well who Owl is and suddenly the whole conversation made sense. “OH! You mean Owl not Al, as in Albert.”

 He chuckles, “Sorry, I was speakin’ Texan.”  

 One of these days he’s going to say ‘awl’ or ‘oil’ that way and I’m going to end up lost… again.

In the meantime, I’m fixin’ to head over yonder to get some coffee an’ what-not.  I need someplace ‘quite’ to sit an’ think about how I’m going to get him to use the words ‘wubble’ and ‘squee-haw’.