Eric Shackle's Column
By Eric Shackle
These words DO have rhymes!
Frustrated poets sometimes claim that no words rhyme with purple, silver, orange and month. Rubbish! There ARE words that rhyme with them. Let's deal with them one at a time.
Hurple and curple rhyme with purple. Hurple is a scottish word, meaning to hobble, or walk with a limp, and curple is a strap under the girth of a horse's saddle to stop the saddle shifting forward.
Burple was a drink mix packed in an expandable accordion-like plastic container. Kids could poke a hole in the cap to convert the container into a squirt gun
Discussing his family name, Trevar Chilver says "The Oxford English Dictionary lists chilver as an Old English noun meaning a ewe lamb, often referred to as a 'chilver lamb'."
There's a Chilver Street in the London (UK) borough of Greenwich. So a poet could write:
- Jewellers sell gold and silver,
In the street that bears the name of Chilver.
The Urban Dictionary says that in the fashion world gilver is a color that is a mix of metallic gold and silver; pilver is a noun meaning the feeling one has after staying awake far too late doing nothing productive and knowing all the while that one is doing nothing productive, and a quilver is a mob of angry squirrels that may or may not be a part of a larger plot to take over the world. Pilver and Quilver are surnames.
Elizabeth Millicent (Sally) Chilver (b. 1914) a London Daily News journalist 1945-47, became a distinguished political scientist and anthropologist. The British Library of Political and Economic Science says she studied "the anthropology of the Cameroon grasslands... covering subjects including matrilineal society, witchcraft, magic and divination, with notes on the authors by Chilver; working notes on the Kingdom of Bum in the north-west province of Cameroon."
That's right: the Kingdom of Bum. We thought that must be a spoof. Not so. Take a look at the Kingdom of Bum, and Fonfuka and Lagabum websites. Fascinating!
In his amusing book "Adventures of a Verbivore" US language expert and best-selling author Richard Lederer wrote: "It's not true that no words rhyme with orange... There was a man -- I'm not kidding -- named Henry Honeychurch Gorringe. He was a naval commander who in the mid-nineteenth century oversaw the transport of Cleopatra's Needle to New York's Central Park. Pouncing on this event, the poet Arthur Guiterman wrote:
- In Sparkhill buried lies a man of mark
Who brought the Obelisk to Central Park,
Redoubtable Commander H. H. Gorringe,
Whose name supplies the long-sought rhyme for orange.
And a hill in South Wales is called "The Blorange"
How about oneth (pronounced wunth)? Discussing Dodie Smith's book The Hundred and One Dalmatians, a reviewer wrote: "This is the original novel, published in 1956, from which the movie adaptations were made--poorly... How many people know who the actual 101th dalmatian was?"
And on a genealogy site, we found this message, posted on February 29, 2004, from Kevin Oneth: "I am a descendent of Adam Oneth." Another read " I am looking to connect with descendants of John and Rebecca Alspaugh Oneth."
Of course, there are hundreds of stories read by seven-year-olds with missing front teeth, which begin Oneth upon a time.
W.S. Gilbert, a world-class rhymester, claimed in an open letter to The Graphic in 1887: 'It has long been supposed that there is no rhyme to 'month.' There is a rhyme to it--not any lisping version of such words as 'once' 'dunce,' etc., but a legitimate word in everyday use... 'millionth' as the best rhyme to 'month,' and I have the authority of the greatest poets in the English language for treating it as a tri-syllable, if I feel disposed to do so.'
One of our favorite rhymes is:
- Shake, shake the ketchup bottle,
First none'll come, and then a lot'll.
No, the famous U.S. humorist Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was NOT the author of that immortal couplet, although many people claim he was. (He DID write Candy / is dandy / But liquor / is quicker.)
One website, noting that August 19 was the anniversary of Nash's birthday, gave this circumstantial but misleading account: "One summer afternoon in 1930, he jotted down a little nonsense poem and sent it to The New Yorker. The magazine bought it, and asked for more. Nash moved to Baltimore and for the next 40 years made his living entirely off of poems like:
- You shake and shake the ketchup bottle,
nothing comes, and then a lot'll.
According to Nash's grand-daughter, Frances R. Smith of Baltimore, Maryland (and she should know) what he actually wrote was:
- The Catsup Bottle
First a little
Then a lottle
(Catsup is another American word for ketchup. Brits and Aussies call it tomato sauce.
Then, in 1949, another US humorist, Richard Willard Armour (1906-1989), seems to have gleefully seized on Nash's rhyme, and produced the couplet that many people enjoy reciting to this day.
Armour was a master of the comical one-liner. Here are three of his wisecracks:
- Middle age is the time of life / that a man first notices in his wife.
- It's all right to hold a conversation, but you should let go of it now and then.
- A rumor is one thing that gets thicker instead of thinner as it is spread.
Apart from lot'll, it's not difficult to find a suitable rhyme for bottle. We can think of throttle, wattle, dottle (a plug of tobacco remaining in a pipe after a smoke), glottal and mottle.
Ogden Nash found a rhyme for parsley by slightly changing the spelling of ghastly. He wrote "Parsley / is gharstly."