They’re interesting words, homonyms. I’ve always been a fan of them– and the word. It ranks up there with anthropomorphism, onomatopoeia, and spoonerisms. I’m also amazed at how many ways seemingly unrelated words both sound alike and really are related.
Patience. It’s a word that we’ve heard in many many settings. “You try my patience.” “I need to pray for patience.” “Patience is a virtue.” It implies waiting, self-control, a deep breath. Its homonym, patients is a common one that people enjoy mixing for a fun play on words. Patients are patient. Patience. Patients. Sickness produces both– it has to. When you are ill, you must allow it to run its course. Impatience will produce patients in a place that requires even more patience– a hospital.
Of course, I don’t know what that has to do with anything. I just wanted to write something cool about homonyms because it’s fun.
Regency England is a maze that, well, speaking of homonymish words, amazes me. I’m learning about how to address someone, how to introduce them, who outranks who and why. I’m learning what happens when a woman with a title in her own right marries a man with a lower title. It’s not as simple as it sounds. Let’s just say the rules of primogeniture in England is a little complicated for those of us who do not have to worry about anything like that.
I’m fascinated by things like what they ate for breakfast (you know the muffin/croissant and coffee crowd… they’re channeling their inner Regency Brit. Trust me.) or what kinds of behavior was appropriate and what wasn’t. It was perfectly acceptable to take a very private drive in a gig without a chaperone, but to visit the sick child of a tenant? Not happenin’. Shoes were both sensible and pretty and utterly ridiculous. The Regency woman wore the equivalent of yoga pants and a bleach-stained t-shirt around the house as a “morning gown.” You’d never leave the house in such a thing and a previously fine dress might be put to death as a “morning dress” by simply removing the trimming to use on another dress.
Dressing while interesting, isn’t the biggest deal. I find it fascinating how forthright they were about seeking a mate while never expressly stating it. I mean, they all converge on London for several weeks of the year for one very long, huge progressive party. From place, to place, to place they converge, dance, flirt, are introduced through very elaborate rules of etiquette, and all for the purpose of finding a husband or a wife. No one pretends that this isn’t true. They don’t talk about it. I mean, they don’t usher a guest into the living room and say, “So how goes the wife hunt?” to which the man answers, “Well, I’ve checked a few dozen off my list, but there are still several who look promising. What do you think of Miss Nottooshabby?” You certainly wouldn’t hear a woman say to a man, “Well, I thought it might work with Lord Snidely, but then he picked his nose at the table and that was it. Instead, you’d probably hear a woman ask her male guest, “And how are you enjoying the delights of the season?” to which he’d answer, “I enjoy hospitality in many houses and there are a few in particular that are very congenial.” The young woman might say, “Well, despite Papa’s assurance that there are dashing young men who enjoy these balls, I have been subjected to enough gauche manners to ensure I am very particular in whose company I spend time.”
And, after the whirlwind of gaiety in London, with it’s bad air and dirty streets, people depart for the country to enjoy house parties, hunting parties, to have a chance to relax and enjoy the fresh air and countryside. In a sense, it reminds me a bit of New York at the turn of the nineteenth century. Families with means would leave the oppressive heat of the city and escape to the Adirondacks or similar places in the mountains for a refreshing summer. Some things never change.
Oh, my… and English. What a homonym in that word. Oh, I know. It isn’t a homonym– not technically– but in how it is used, it feels like one. English is a nationality. It is a language. It is also a dialect. And, if that’s not enough, it is a culture. The English speak the Queen’s English rather than our English and when you have to write it, it’s all so very English. See?
Now, pardon me, but I need to get Charlotte to the cottages and Jasper off to the archery lesson. It’s going to be a fun day at Eversley Hall.