cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Why We Say: #19–hello to grapevines and heirlooms


A greeting known through the ages that actually didn’t start out so friendly. “Holla” was once used as a warning and Shakespeare placed it in his plays when a character wanted another to stop. From “holla” came the verb “holler” and when the phone was introduced the connections weren’t the best so people had to holler to be heard. These days, we no longer need to holler our hello into the phone, instead we simply ask “Can you hear me now?”

Before telephones people passed information from ear to mouth, and if you’ve ever played the telephone game, you know that second, third, and fourth hand information is not that reliable. Sending information from person to person rarely traveled in a straight line, and the information was bound run as crooked a course as a grapevine. “Heard it through the grapevine” may make for a great song, but it doesn’t make for a reliable source.

Moving away from hellos, we now explore heirlooms. This one is so incredibly logical. Way back in the day, the family loom was an important aspect of a household, being used to weave cloth to make clothes. This family possession would be passed from heir to heir. Today, an heirloom signifies something passed from one generation to another. Good thing that–my small house would be hard-pressed to make room for a loom.

photos from Morguefile.com

Next month: getting the lowdown on perceived lowlife…

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14 thoughts on “Why We Say: #19–hello to grapevines and heirlooms

  1. What a wonderful post. I love this kind of historical nostalgia.

  2. Interesting, I had never thought about the fact that an heirloom was originally an actual loom! Have you read Silas Marner? I can never see or hear anything about looms without thinking of old Silas 🙂

    • Absolutely–I thought of Ben Kingsley who was in Silas.

      • Yes, Ben Kingsley is who I picture when I think of Silas! And cute little Eppie sitting near him while he worked. It’s a good story, they should do a remake now, a big production like they’ve done with a lot of the other classics.

      • Not sure it could improved. Sir Ben captured Silas so well. What actor would try on his role?

      • Oh you’re right, I don’t think anyone could improve his Silas performance, and he looked just right too, but I would really like to see the story reach a wider audience, it’s not anywhere near as well known as I think it should be. I was going to say John Malkovitch as a possible Silas, but he’s too old now too. But it does need to be someone who looks a bit quirky, they need charisma but not the kind of heartthrob looks of someone like Brad Pitt.

      • One if us should write a classified post for classics that need updating. I was encouraged by Carey Mulligan’s performance of Bathsheba Everdeen of Far from the Madding Crowd, although overall, the film lacked depth. It was a bit of Tom Hardy litely served.

      • I think it should be you, you’re far more knowledgeable about these things than me. I’m not anywhere near as well read as I think I should be!

      • But you know your actors, especially British. Someone with Benedict’s depth but older with less physicality…Martin, perhaps? Could a Hobbit pull off a Silas?

      • Actually Benedict is 39 years old which is the exact same age as Silas was at the start of the story, so he’s a definite possibility!

      • I’ll head up the letter campaign.

  3. Had no idea about the history of hello. Thanks for the mini-lesson…love it! 🙂

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