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).