H is for Hearsay

I was thinking I’d blog “H is for Honesty” and then own up to the fact that I’m really lousy at blogging challenges, which is why, despite having already written one “catch-up” post, I am still woefully behind on the A to Z Challenge.

And then I realized, that would just be stating the obvious. I’m pretty sure most of you already know how terrible I am at blogging challenges. Even those of you new to this blog likely have an inkling.

(I’m right, aren’t I?)

So this morning, I was hunting around for another “H” word to blog about, and hearsay popped into my mind. My mind works in weird, wonderful and mysterious ways. Which is my fancy way of saying, I have no clue why hearsay popped into my mind. Nor am I prepared to write a legal discourse about it. (And if I did, it would be highly inaccurate – beginning with the fact that I can’t even find my (very old) edition of Black’s Law Dictionary to give an adequate definition.)

I’ve always thought of the hearsay rule as meaning the courts really don’t want to listen to gossip, rumors and innuendo (um, all you students out there, do not use this definition in a test, exam or essay).

And, since (here in Canada, anyway) there’s a list of “hearsay exceptions” a mile long (and not all enumerated as yet by the courts, which just means they’re liable to think up fresh new exceptions at any given moment), it’s not exactly an ironclad rule, either.

So, no, it wasn’t the legal ramifications of hearsay my mind was toying with. I think where my mind was headed (and dragging me along behind it) was the word hearsay itself – as a word. I mean, take a look at it – you can sort of see how it evolved, can’t you?

Well, yer Honor, I heared her say to me that John told her that Shelby told him that Duke told her that someone oughta shoot the black duck’s brains out. That’s what I heared her say, and I’m willin’ to swear to that.”

But no, that’s probably not the way it happened. That’s just my imagination running away from me (which it likes to do every now and then, to keep me fit). My Chambers Dictionary of Etymology doesn’t have an entry for hearsay, except at the end of the entry for hear, but according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, hearsay comes to us from the 1530s, from the phrase to hear say.

Here’s what I’ve been thinking: If you were new to the English language, and just happened to see the word hearsay pop up somewhere, it would look a lot like a funny, made-up word. You know, like the kind of thing fantasy and science fiction writers are always coming up with …

And if you’re wondering how on earth I’m going to do another catch-up post, now that “C” is long past, I was thinking I might be able to sneak another one in when I get to “K” (you know, as in ketchup). :)

10 thoughts on “H is for Hearsay

  1. Dorte H

    Ah, come on now, you made it up! 😉

    Actually one of my classes accused ME of having made it up the first time I wrote ´thus´ on the blackboard. They just wouldn´t believe it could be a real word. And this is NOT hearsay.

    Reply
  2. J.D.M.

    LOL, Belle. What an entertaining post. And it’s good to know I’m not the only one in the world who loves words and their origins. The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology and the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology have both been on my wishlist for the longest time. Oh, and I hear say from Robyn that it’s very likely you’ll get all caught up on this challenge. 😉

    Reply
  3. Janel

    Playing with words is fun. Sometimes it isn’t so fun when you are trying to figure out the spelling of one and it’s so far off spell check can’t come up with it, but that’s a different subject, LOL!

    Reply
  4. Barbara

    I love to know where words come from. Now I even have Dave suddenly stopping and asking, “Now that’s a funny word. Where did it come from?” When he starts commenting on words instead of machine parts and metals, you know I have an obsession – or he’s been living with me too long. 😀

    Reply
  5. Joe

    Yes! You’re abysmal at this whole blogging challenge thing, with your dropping in on people’s blogs, and leaving lovely, heartfelt comments, and well-spoken feedback, and just generally spiffing up a place, all in the light touch of a writing voice that smacks of sunlight on a spring day.

    I’ve no doubt the Challenge cops will burst in any moment. Give you a good and proper public flogging, they will.

    ‘Course they’d have to take you outdoors to make it public.

    And even then, there’d need to be people about.

    Okay, forget the cops. Probably dawdling around my Keystone post, anyway.

    But don’t forget this: You may fall behind in your posts, but you’ve been a warm and welcome voice at the places you visit. You’ve given folks (meaning me) a bit of a boost on days when they (still meaning me) haven’t felt like anyone (meaning the rest of the people in the world, my lot in particular) was watching. There’s great value in that.

    And when you do write to the letters, as you did with H, it’s always entertaining and fun and unexpected. Even the wee bitty catch-up posts were dealt with a smile.

    I’ll take hit-or-miss entries that make me glad to have visited over by-the-numbers posts written solely from a sense of obligation any day. (Better than 25 words in that sentence and not a comma one. Oy.).

    So. Pick up thy pen, fair Belle, and get thee busy.

    I want to hear what you have to say.

    Best,
    Joe
    l: Your Library: A Tale Not Told in Books

    P.S. This comment was like, four times longer than your original entry. Think I could make it into a post? What letter?

    Reply
    1. Belle Wong Post author

      Yes, you could definitely make it into a post: J is for Joe, wonderful Joe, who just brightened up my day. Wait – that would be what I would title the post …!

      When the notification of your comment popped into my email, I smiled, one of those really deep smiles that reach right inside. The world does look really beautiful today! Thanks, Joe!

      Reply
  6. Pingback: I is for Ingenuity (And Here I Take Care of J, K, L and M, Too)

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