Friday, April 07, 2006

red-colored honor amongst the armoured thieves.

Which is the correct spelling?
"Honor" or "Honour"?
"Color" or "Colour"?
"Armor" or "Armour"?
I like Honor, Color, and Armour.

Why is one a "British" and one an "American" spelling?
When was the divergence?

Also, a bonus question:
What are the origins of the common pirate phrase: "yar"?
(a.k.a. yarr, arr, arg, yarg, etc.)


Chaka said...

Hey Brandon, glad to see your post.

I think the divergence between the American and British spellings dates from Noah Webster, who deleted the "u" in each of those words in his dictionary. I vaguely remember that he also suggested other spelling changes to make things more phonetically accurate that didn't catch on.

As for "yarg", here's a story I heard from my Phonetics professor, Dr. Joe Stemberger: The stereotypical British pirates in the 18th century were Welshmen. The Welsh language has a retroflex "r"--that is, the r-sound is made with the tip of the tongue curled up. It sounds distinctly different from a regular English "r".

(By the way, if you want to hear what the retroflex "r" sounds like, pop in your Fellowship of the Ring DVD and jump to the scene where Gandalf is telling Frodo about the history of the ring. The first time he mentions "Mordor," he pronounces it with two retroflex r's. The reason is that Tolkien modeled one of the elvish languages on Welsh, so their r's are supposed to be retroflex. I don't know if anyone other than Ian McKellen bothered to do that, however.)

Now, the theory is that when the British wanted to depict a pirate (on stage, as in the Pirates of Penzance, for example), they would have him use a lot of words with "r" to highlight the strange sound. Maybe they would just have him make "r" sounds a lot, hence, he seems to be saying something like "yar" all the time.

That's my best guess.

Pirate Jimmy said...

I suppose that makes sense,
Silly welsh pirates and their crazy R's.