The King’s Iddles


The announcer on our local classical-music station said she was going to play George Butterworth’s English Idyll No. 2 with the fourth word pronounced “iddle”; that is, rhyming with griddle. I sat down to write a blog entry denouncing her ignorance but, as I sometimes do, I did some investigation first.

To my horror, I found that the British pronunciation is indeed “iddle.” This means that Tennyson’s work is “Iddles of the King.” How could we ever have taken it seriously?

John Greenleaf Whittier’s Snowbound: A Winter Idyl, which no one reads anyway, except Massachusetts eighth-graders in 1956, is still an “eye-dill,” since it’s American.

So that’s another British oddity, which I had to wait till an advanced age to learn about. I already knew – and had written about – keep your pecker up, which has nothing, or little, to do with erectile dysfunction. Apparently Shaw never said we’re “two countries divided by a common language,” but he should have.



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