Once more I am struck by the continual re-arranging of perfectly good English vocabulary in America.
Seems that David Cameron hummed a short tune as he entered 10 Downing Street after a short announcement concerning Theresa May.
NPR duly reported it and the flurry of musical nerdery – all over the world apparently. But it was this that caught my eye.
Britishism alert: Ross uses the word “crotchet” for “quarter note.”
‘Ross’ is the Editor of Classic FM. Just want to point out that the word ‘crotchet’ goes back ..
to English renaissance music, and the terms of Latin origin had international currency at that time. Obviously, longa means ‘long’, and the rest rarely indicate relative shortness. Breve is from Latin brevis, ‘short’, minim is from minimus, ‘very small’, and quaver refers to the quavering effect of very fast notes. The elements semi-, demi- and hemi- mean ‘half’ in Latin, French and Greek respectively. The chain semantic shift whereby notes which were originally perceived as short came progressively to be long notes is interesting both linguistically and musically. However, the crotchet is named after the shape of the note, from the Old French for a ‘little hook’, and it is possible to argue that the same is true of the minim, since the word is also used in palaeography to mean a vertical stroke in mediaeval handwriting.
Hundreds. if not thousands of years of musical terminology duly changed by ‘they that know better’ … I wouldn’t mind, but this country goes out of its way to even pronounce non English words in the way of the locals – but when it comes to English – they don’t even bother to try.
Case In Point
The River Thames that runs through London is pronounced ‘Tems’ – not ‘Thayms’.