Okay, hands up, gang If you’ve ever used Or even heard of an ‘interrobang’ ? You all look confused at the word, And I’m not surprised – Of all the useless punctuation, This abomination ought to be the most despised. But no !, the lumpy little toad Is honoured with a Unicode While decent, necessary marks Are offered no abode. These silly lexographic larks With so little help to bring Are only ever seen in fun – I mean, has anyone The slightest need to use the bloody thing ? And meanwhile, I cannot succeed To get the Question-Comma recognised – Now there’s a boy whose time has come, Who should be common, should be prized, Instead of all this tweedle-dum, Mine shows our queries raised at root, Mid-flow, when the clauses overshoot, – Not waiting till the line has passed And a full-stop hoves in view at last, To plonk our squiggle over, when the matter’s all-but moot. Yet ev’ry font is pleading ignorance, And claiming that they’re full – Such bull ! So now my hybrid glyph won’t stand a chance. But why ?, when they’d gladly welcome-in the clang Of that bastard offspring runt, the Interrobang !? Oh…oh yeah… I guess I kinda coulda have used one there…
And yes, I did use ‘to hove’ in the present tense, and I’m not even sorry.
That said, Wiktionary suggests that it was a separate Middle English verb roughly meaning ‘to linger’ which became conflated with the past tense of ‘to heave’, and which also spun-off ‘to hover’.
Meanwhile, here are a few examples of what we we’re missing. Sort it out, Times New Roman !
Our Z’s are zeds, our maths is plural, Routs are rooted, herbs are heard, And Y’s are added to news and mural, Post and petrol are preferred. And then, we spell things diff’rently, Like U’s in colour, E’s in grey, We favour biscuits with our tea, And get our chips from a takeaway,
The trouble is, we’re losing. These days, all the art we get, The culture and the etiquette Is blowing to our shores And when we make our own, we’re choosing Ways to make it more like yours. We’ve lost our national confidence, I guess, We seem to export less, As our markets flood with Yankee slang And though we tut and though we chide, Our countrymen will each decide To stop the war and join your gang.
The Bible lumps the bats in with the birds, And oh, how we sneer. “A mammal is no more a fowl Than a dragonfly is like an owl.” But hang-on, none of those are Hebrew words, So none of those appear In the ancient texts – they’re our translations, Sent back in time to new vocations.
Maybe what we think meant ‘bird’ to them Meant simply ‘thing that flies’ – And likewise whales are fish that swim, And snakes are worms for lacking limbs. It’s unscientific, so we condemn, But that don’t mean it’s lies. Their names did the job they were assigned – So each to their own, hey, after their kind.
The English tongue is a toolkit To unlock those very English sounds In a well-oiled perfect fit. The Scots and Welsh have tongues that sit At a slightly diff’rent angle each So’s not to mangle all those subtle bits of brogue That abound within their speech. Americans are yet more rogue, Dismissing our metric metre For their own iambic feet and inches – They prefer their rhotic burr to ring, With a tongue that sounds the sweeter And a throat that swells and pinches Fine enough to let it sing. But none of we Anglophones are great At sounding French, or Japanese – We haven’t the tools we need for these. And that’s okay – we still can try, And even if we’re second-rate, There’s no need to be shy. The thing is, no two individual tongues Are contoured quite the same They vary how they’re ribbed and strung, And where they set their aim. So if we were to slur your foreign name next time we call, It’s just because our tongues are curled the other way, that’s all.
Q’s without U’s, You’re not fooling me – You’re out to confuse With your Q’s floating free. But I know you’re trick – You’re just swirly K’s, With a kick and a click To anchor a phrase. Yet sometimes in French At the end of a word, A Q is what’s mentioned, But K is what’s heard. And Arabic full of ’em, Inuit too, With gutter and phlegm To push the sound through – Less plosive, more fricative, That’s what it’s telling – It’s purely indicative, Snobbish in spelling – For only a Scot could Hope to pronounce it – No Sassenach should, They’ll mangle and trounce it.
OO is for Curloo, U is for Duv, O is for Swollo and Swon, my love. M is for Emerald – Pretty enough. F is for Fessant and also for Chuff. N is for Natcatcher, K is for Kwail, J is for Pijjon who’s bringing the mail. I is for Ider, R is for Ren, T is for Tarmigan – ta-ta, my hen.
Exclamations ! Provocations ! Explanations of excitations ! Some would say they’re overused, I disagree. Some I note refuse of late To punctuate their poetry – Not me !
Word elations ! Ejaculations ! Indications of stimulations ! The Spanish use them twice as much ¡ Caramba ! But are they just a crutch, dead weight ? Let context state the mood and timbre – Let our poems dance the samba…
Celebrations. Expectations. Declarations without notations. They feel as if they’re lacking, now… Too calm and bland. They need to somehow demonstrate The extra fate at their command, And make a stand !
Verbs in English are really German In how they like to behave – Especially when irregular, Which helps explain how give gives gave. So when a Norman interloper Such as catch is gadding about Well, either its past sees it catched up in logic, Or its sneaky imitation has caught us out. The way they are is how they evolved, And they’re simply something that must be learned. Yet even today, the strong turn weak, As learnt is ousted by the friendlier learned. Snuck may have sneaked in recently, But verbs have become less fraught – Where once they flied-out and grandstood, now Their work’s less overwrought.