Getting Got

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership at.

S2: From New York City, this is Lexicon Valley, a podcast about language. I’m John McWhorter. And, you know, let’s kick off with this bit of niños delight as a herald to what I want to share with you this time. And now it’s time for a breakdown.

S3: Never gonna get it. Never gonna get it. Again and again and again and again and again and again and again and never. And again. Going to get it all together, never go together again. Never gonna get it. It’s never going to get navigated.

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S4: You can never guess.

S5: That was so good, but you know what, this time you are going to get it. And what I mean is that we’re going to do get and God, this is one of those things people have been asking me to do this for the whole four years I’ve been doing the show. And frankly, you know, somebody says, well, what’s going on with I have gotten gotten and the fact that, you know, the British feel differently about it. And there’s a little bit of the kind of things because I hadn’t really thought about it much before, I think, well, who cares?

S1: But then I realized, wait a minute. Actually, the whole story with getting gotten gotten is interesting. I actually have had reason to think about it a little bit here and there, but not as a single thing. But I must admit that my listener, David Carrigan, and put me over the edge and I decided, you know, what about got guts getting and what’s gotten what gets got what exactly is that? What’s going on with this weird little word. Get in English. So let’s let’s do a show about get you’re getting a show about it. So first of all, where did it come from. What is it. Etymology. Well, get is a hybrid. There was an original old English word that gave birth to our get. And then the Vikings, the Scandinavian Vikings who invaded England starting in about seven eighty seven. They spoke Old Norse, which was closely related to old English, and they had a word forget, too. And so our seems to mainly take its cue from the Norse one. So as deeply ensconced in our vocabulary and therefore our minds as get is, it actually isn’t an original English word. It started as a borrowing, but the old English word was something different. It was roughly what would today be pronounced. Yet it was time. And that is something that we can imagine was in old English because it doesn’t occur alone already in old English. You get it in the words for beget and forget. But that requires that there was originally just a single word. And as it happens, the past participle of this Yitong would have been gotten. And so we still have a direct descendant of the original old English word in our gotan because the Norse words past participle was getting and we don’t say getting. Also today, if we still used the original just past tense form of this year, it would have been GATT. That’s how it would have come down. And we still have that in that weird past tense form begat that we know from the Bible. So you’ve got these handprints from the original verb. But when we say get, what we’re saying is a word that the Vikings would have been using and actually get this the proto Indo-European word, the word, you know, spoken on the steps of Ukraine, that that would have been in the grandfather language of most of the languages of Europe and also eastward of Iran and India. The original get root would have been roughly good had that would have become head. And then down in Latin territory, the head would have become head hand hand. And that’s where you get apprehend, comprehend. And so, believe it or not, get comes from the same route that you have as the hand in apprehend and comprehend, then get this comprehend. Well, that starts as calm with and then apprehend the prepend is to grab something, to pretend, to pray, to pray, pray. Pray is something that has been gotten in that way. The word pray comes from the same root as yet it’s not the funniest thing how language works, which means that language is always changing my monotonous lesson. Any language today is the product of the kinds of changes that you can be sure people were sitting by complaining about a very long time ago. So that’s the etymology. But I think what we really care about is what in God’s name happen to this word to create this bizarre splotch that we have today and a splotch? It is. I mean, take a look at get in the dictionary. You go into the dictionary, look up Apple and well, you know, it means Apple, go into the dictionary, comprehend. Well, it means understand. And there you go. You don’t really need to do much, but look up get which you wouldn’t because, you know, we all know how to use it. But in a good dictionary, gets entry, goes on and on and on. I pity anybody learning English as a second language who has to master just the range of meanings of this word. Get where we think to ourselves that it means to obtain. But really, that’s not even the half of it, dearie. It’s amazing. I remember when I was trying to learn Spanish when I was a kid, I wanted to know, how do you say get? Because in English you say get every ten seconds. And I used a small dictionary and they say that the word is Kalonzo you consiglio. OK, to obtain and I thought, OK, now I know, but then I thought, isn’t that a little long and kind of formal seeming for something like that indefinitely? It was I noticed if I’m going to try to say, get out of here, I know I’m not going to say Consejo, we’re out of here. It’s not obtain out of here. If I want to say something like, I get why she said that, you can tell it’s not going to be this Gonzaga or something. Like I got fired. I obtained a firing. It’s kind of a stretch. And I realized right then that was my introduction to the fact that words do not parallel one another in a one on one fashion from one language to another. And I realized, wow, we say get. But they’re like a thousand different words that Spanish uses to convey those concepts. Spanish splits it up more finely. I would venture most languages split. All of the things that we express with get more finely English is funny with get and take. In particular, take a look at the take a look at the entry for take two. So you end up having to think of the meanings of get as kind of a tree. Most of them make a certain sense, but you have to imagine what might happen if something begins as meaning to get to obtain, but then morphs along. You know, the cat is always curious. The cat has to go look into the shoe box. The cat has to then sleep in the shoe box. Just this morning, I turned on the sink and I left a thin stream going and it was clear that the cat had to check that out. He’s actually he’s ten, but she hadn’t actually ever noticed that thin stream before. You could tell that to her at some peculiar physical object, but it makes her a little wet. She can’t quite figure it out. That’s what cats are like. Language is like that. It’s always oozing along, curiously exploring distant resonances. And next thing you know, the word is meaning something new. So talk about cats. We can say get a cat. So you go to the pet store. You know, these various ways people seem to get cats and you get a cat, you obtain a cat. Now you can do it actively. But then very naturally, this is how verbs work in all languages. It can be less actively. So you obtain it without agency. So let’s say you get a cold. Now, those are two different things. In a way, we master it unconsciously. But for example, listen to the toggle between obtaining and taking on without effort in this episode of the Ancient. This is way, way back. This is 1951 George Burns and Gracie Allen television show. This is an exchange between Burns and his announcer, who was a character in the show, Harry Vonzell. They were doing the Seinfeld meta thing decades before Seinfeld. This is Burns and Allen TV show. Nineteen fifty one.

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S6: All right. Maybe you can give me a little information about this party tonight. Well, I’d rather not, George. She’s a little sensitive, pushy Myrtle. She’s the party I’m taking to the Mocambo tonight. What party are you talking about? OK, be subtle. So long. All right, what are you getting for president? Well, I don’t know, George. Last time Myrtle gave me a cigarette lighter. Body is like a wake, everybody knows what’s going on except the guest of honor.

S1: So that’s one way that get can work, but then you have the metaphorical kind of meow extensions and so to obtain can also be extended to understanding your obtaining the information, you’re even obtaining comprehension so you can get the concept so you can obtain, for example, this is almost too good. You can obtain a cat or you can obtain a concept. And yes, there is a Broadway song that actually shows this. And so I’m just going to play a little clip of it. It’s Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. This is one passage in the masterpiece number, a little priest. Listen to Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett talking to Len Cariou. Sweeney Todd, listen to these two uses of get in the same little passage seems an awful waste.

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S7: I mean, with the price meat, what it’s when you get it, if you get it, huh, good, you got it.

S8: Take, for instance, Mrs. Moody at a pawn shop. Business that better using big pussycats and types. And maybe six or seven next, I’m not sure they can compare Mrs. Lovett.

S1: What a charming notion. Now, this is not how I live for years. I never know because I walked around my room and it was even about a cat, just too good. Had to do it anyway. Or you can understand something or you can receive something. You can obtain something in the sense of undergoing something unexpected. And so you obtain and experience. It happens to you and therefore you have gotten something. And so that’s where get ends up, meaning become in linguistics. We call it the get passive as opposed to the be passive. So you get fired, you get hurt. And even though when we talk about undergoing, we tend to think that that undergoing is probably negative because it was unexpected and we weren’t in control. The get passive isn’t always negative because you can get paid or you can get I need not. And so that means that it’s not always a bad thing. In fact, there was an episode of Married with Children. Yes, I watched every single episode and I hate to admit most of the more than once and there was one in the fifth season where I always loved the way feed was used in this line. Young Bud, the son is on a date with one of his frankly rather mean young ladies. And this is what one of them said. So hurry going anywhere you want it. Now, I told you, when you’re with me, the world is your oyster and not getting on a bus.

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S7: I don’t want to get fed.

S5: No problem. I want to get fit. And so then also to get out of here, in other words, to become out of here and then finally with get and I’m not going to do all of the meanings, but these are the basic ones.

S1: It’s all kind of a tree getting is not only becoming, but it’s making someone or making something become. And so, for example, to get them together is another use of get. So listen to Mrs. Slocombe, Molly Sugden character in Are You Being Served the wonderful sitcom, my very favorite. And listen to this usage of Get Where she is reading a sexy note that the younger man in the store played by Trevor Bannister has tried to send to the the hot little bird. Wendy Richard.

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S9: What he got that a bit of paper. Captain Peacock gave it to me. It’s a note from. Do six in Nikka. I don’t often see you meet me outside at five thirty and we’ll get it together. Get Would. I didn’t think you had sexy knickers. As a matter of fact, the Directoire, some men get quite worked up about the. Yes, well, there is an air of mystery about them.

S1: Well, the was in the world, I suppose, with all those bombs now she says get it together. But really the expression is get it together, like getting them together, like getting something together. And so that’s a survey of the sorts of things that get can mean get does not just mean obtain, it’s extended to express a vast range of human experience. And of course, all of this is just the beginning.

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S10: It’s one thing for me to talk about get but I know that that might seem a little diagonal because what a lot of you were really waiting for is got what is it about got got ends up becoming difficult because of.

S1: Well, where we need to start is how the strong verbs work in English. And so, for example, I sing yesterday I sang and as such I have sung. So you have your present, your past and your past participle. And in English often verbs have different forms for all three of those take took taken there. Endless examples.

S10: Well with get where it starts is get got gotan but then it ends up getting played with. And so I have gotten becomes I have got. Why did that happen.

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S1: How come I didn’t just say I have gotten with got meaning just the past and this is something that happened in England. This is long before America instead of I have gotten I have got. That is because the past participle forms often just collapse into being the past forms now, not in what we think of as standard English, but in real English, the way people actually talk. If you look at these verb forms, since English has been English, they’re always morphing around. They sound kind of like each other. There’s this dynamic relationship between past and and past participle unless, you know, it’s going to happen. And so that’s why people might say you’ve been taken, but they also say you’ve been took or for example, in black English. He done eaten it almost never. He done ate it. He done ate it. Where the past participle collapses, as we say in linguistics into the past form or where he could have went. You know, to me that sounds normal. And I don’t think this is a black thing. This is just a sort of weary standard English, whatever kind of thing. I catch myself saying that now and then where he could have went. I know intellectually that it’s where he could have gone, but where he could have went falls out of my mouth. And I know I’m not alone. This is a natural process. And so here’s an example of how this goes. And these things just kind of pile all over each other technically, standardly, bring, brought, brought. But because we’re often trying to make all of these strong verbs sound like each other and bring rhymes with sing, there’s a little part of a lot of us, not all of us, but a lot of us, as in many, many English speakers over many, many, many years and I mean centuries where it’s not being brought brought, it’s bring brang brung, think about it, think about how kind of right that sounds. I know nine out of ten of you will get what I mean, bring Brian Brunk. But even with bring Brian Brong they sound great to me. Bring Brian Brunk even with bring Brian Brong you see the opposite thing happening, which also happens all the time where the past participle form is used for the past form. So you may think, well all this is just, you know, goddamn fucking wrong, but really it’s just how language always changes. So often a person will say that they bring you something, they might say it in a looney tune. It might be Henry Hauk. And you were never to listen to what he says to his father.

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S7: I promise. I promise I can. And what I’d rather get a load of this gorgeous college.

S10: So you have have gotten becoming have got now have got it’s supposed to mean and that’s why I have gotten this thing. But the thing is, as we all know, have got does not really mean to most of us have gotten in the past. It means the prison. So I’ve got a hat. That doesn’t mean that I obtained a hat in the past to us. It’s equivalent to I have a hat. Why is that? Why did that happen to God?

S5: Why is it that somehow we have this past tense of get referring to what you possessed? Right now it’s because of something about the perfect construction. It’s this past participle. If you say Elvis has left the building, what you mean is not the same thing as Elvis left the building. Notice, if you say Elvis left the building, you feel the camera pulling further away. You feel like it happened longer ago. Elvis has left. The building means that it happened more. More recently, and more to the point, its effects still linger. Elvis has left the building implies that you’re sitting in the audience still clapping and he just left and you’re still feeling his essence.

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S10: That’s where you get something like I have got having its present tense resonance. And so you say, I have got it. I have obtained it. But if you say that, chances are what you’re really thinking about is that you have it. You’re not thinking about the fact that 10 minutes ago you acquired purchase upon it. What you’re really saying is, look at me now. I have it. And so I have got starts out as gotan collapsing into God. But I have got still means I have obtained in the past. But it’s natural for that to start to mean I have. So I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts or something like that. It doesn’t mean. Well, you know, ten minutes ago I was picking the coconuts. It means I have them right now.

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S1: Then of course, you have people who are saying, you know what, I got a hat. And they don’t mean I bought it yesterday. They’re saying something like, well, the reason I’m not wet because I got a hat and they mean I have a hat on.

S5: Well, that is because speakers are trying to make it more tidy. So if the present is supposed to be expressed with these bare verbs, well, I’ve got is kind of a wrinkle. So naturally, sometimes people are going to think, well, why isn’t it just I got and there you go. And context takes care of any lack of clarity that might be involved. Now, this is going to sound like I’m just making excuses for sloppiness. But actually, this is pattern. It happens to plenty of verbs that they start out in the past tense and then the past tense form ends up referring to the present. For example, we talk about mother wit, not only funny wit, but mother wit keeping your wits about you. Wit means knowledge. And you used to also be able to use that as a verb.

S1: That wit starts out on the steps of Ukraine. What it meant was having seen and knowing on that basis it was a past tense form. But the thing is, if you use it, what you’re really talking about is that you know it. That’s the main thing. It’s that present tense focus. So what started out as having seen and having received information from that became in some languages to just know. So these are the sorts of things that happen. It’s these preterit presents and get has that little infection. And so next thing you know, you have got as a past tense form, meaning have right here in the present perfect example uppa the cartoon studio that did Mr Magoo and Gerald MC Boing Boing did a one off. Well, actually there were a few of these, but at first minute as a one off, one off called Christopher Krumpet about a little boy who can turn himself into a chicken at will, I highly recommend that it’s one of the best cartoons ever made. But listen to what the mother says in a colloquial sense about what her son is like. Wow.

S7: You know, Christopher, did anybody want to give that a chicken fun?

S5: So in that vein, next thing you know, you got a present tense got now, I remember even as a kid, I was taking a cue from hearing people use got that way. And I went through a phase. Maybe I’m four or five where I would say he got because I figured, well, you know, this is how verbs work. I couldn’t have consciously talked about it, but I walk. You walk. She he it walks. We yal they walk. So of course I got you got. Well it must be she he it got my mother would get so angry there’s no guts. And I remember I had the stack of cards for some reason one of the cards had the word got. They were all these words. I don’t know how they decided maybe the cards were just teaching you how to spell or something. But I saw that word got and I thought, well, there’s the verb. So it’s like walk, eat, God. And therefore it has to be Gotz. And so Mom would say, there’s no God. And I would say, yes, there is, because here here’s got on this card and I forget how that came out. I think my mother either took that card away or I vaguely remember her doing something on the card to indicate that I wasn’t using it. Right. I forget, but God is confusing, but actually it ends up in all of its actual logic yielding another meaning and that’s obligation. And so I have got to do this is equivalent to I have to do this because if I have got now means have, then of course you’re not only going to say have to do it, but have got to do it. And next thing you know, you drop the have and you say I gotta do it. This is how these things happen. And it can seem odd. I’ve got I possessed something and I’ve got to do it obligation. But in languages that kind of thing happens to possession and obligation are shades of the same thing. In a way, it is something that you. Possess this obligation, so God just following in a groove and, you know, God, like everything is numb to what it looks like from a perfectly logical or conservative perspective. In fact, the the Creole language that I specialize in, the Samarkand Creole spoken in the rainforest of Suriname, it has this possession, obligation, romance. And so, for example, the book is mine. I’d like it to be, you know, the God damn girl is mine was a goddamn I don’t remember. I never liked the song, but let me not use girl book. The book is mine. OK, debulking the book DA is Dybbuk. The book is me of me Buku Domme. The book is mine. So tell me, how do I say I have to read the book. One way to say it is well read. The book is Blessed Buku. Now the whole sentence I have to read the book is a debt. It is a debt. All me buku of me to read the book. I don’t collect books. I have to read the book. So you, me, mine. But then a military book. It’s mine to read the book. It’s on me. It’s up upon me. It’s all me mine to read the book. This is just what happens. So you have get and got in this weird relationship in this language. And that does bring us to a useful song. Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg. These are the people who wrote the songs to The Wizard of Oz. They did other things that often sound nothing like Wizard of Oz. They were true artists. This is from Lena Horne’s Broadway vehicle, Jamaica.

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S1: All it was, was an excuse to listen to her and look at her for two and a half hours. It did its job and it disappeared. But the score was by Arlen and Harburg. And it’s worth hearing. This is one song called Pretty to Walk With. And I’ve always liked how it ends because it illuminates this business of the wetness in the garden.

S7: Let’s take a quick listen to Lena Horne singing Pretty to walk with, loves to fight with, then spend spending night with. That’s how a man gets cat.

S11: That’s how lady gets hitched. And how the backlog gets on that. Josh, sweet spot, Al Hunt. That’s how you got to be to hit Jackpot.

S5: Lovely to sit up with and be lit up with on a bamboo cup. In any case, what about the Brit part? What about how there’s this difference and this arbitrary thing? And I must admit, this is part of why I’ve held off on doing this show, because I’ve always thought, well, that’s just so arbitrary.

S10: But it’s actually interesting in Britain, the evolution of get got gotten was that gotten collapsed into God.

S5: And so the idea in Britain was that to say have got for what used to be have gotten was the British and therefore proper way of doing it. America at first was like that. But around the late eighteen hundreds, America started restoring gotten. So next thing you know, you have this situation that the usage guides comment on. And so it’s gotten tough to cetera. It’s gotten tough to get a break. It’s gotten tough to get a hamburger sandwich. And it’s supposed to be it’s tough to get a handle, OK, or I’ve gotten numb to all of these imprecations. I’ve got numb to all these imprecations are supposedly the British is supposedly the standard way. And, you know, you get these arbitrary judgments that are perfectly understandable because we’re all human. But, you know, America’s gotten is ugly somehow. Here’s Charles Whibley. You know that this person is not from my side of the pond. Charles Whibley in nineteen zero eight. I’m not going to do the British accent because I want to give him the voice of somebody else I once knew. But he wrote he wrote this, America needs help boost the use of gotten the termination done, adds nothing of cents or sound of the word. It’s like a piece of dead wood in a tree and it’s better lopped off. Just lopped off. Whibley didn’t have that last little just lopped off, but the person I’m imitating would have. But you know, if it’s so ugly, then how come the same people use the word forgotten? Is that not a British word? And then of course, there’s something called the Bible. It’s though in Genesis. And he heard the words of Leyburn sons saying Jacob have taken away all that was our fathers and of that which was our fathers. Hafidh gotten all this glory. I don’t want to lock that off. What? He got all its glory. No. Or and they took their cattle and their goods. Who is this voice? Is the Cecil B. to millworker. And they took their cattle and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan. Is it supposed to be which they had got in the land of Canaan? That sounds like some sort of birth giving and came into Egypt. Jacob and all his seed with s.E.C. Gotan is fine. It was in the Bible. It’s just that it happened to fall away in British English the way things just happened to be. Now, there are people who say and I get what they mean, that the reason we started using Gotan again in America is because we were looking less to British English as our model. But I think that that might be a little early. People start using gotan here in the late eighteen hundreds, but really Americans of a certain stripe were looking towards Britain in terms of what proper speech was supposed to be until after World War Two. I just got finished seeing an Andy Hardy movie.

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S1: I will not subject you to any of it wasn’t musical for one thing, but nobody even said anything interesting that I hadn’t seen one in a while. And the mother in the Andy Hardy movies, Fay Holden, she was a British woman, the actress playing her, and she’s speaking a pretty British English. And here in nineteen thirty seven, it’s just thought that that’s a stand in for even proper American. We’re supposed to think that she grew up somewhere in the Midwest. I frankly think nobody asked me and they really shouldn’t have that. Really what we’re dealing with we’ve gotten is just that things happen to go in two different directions. They were two different cats and so in Britain gotten collapsed into got. But then here there was the opposite impulse that Americans were trying to make the pattern regular again, because you have the sing sang songs. And so we brought gotten back. I don’t know if there needed to be a changing relationship with British people for that to happen. In any case, this relationship could be summed up by a wonderful clip from the show by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. These are the people who did Fiddler on the Roof. They did other work and it was just as good as Fiddler on the Roof. This is the Rothschilds. Yes, there was a musical about them. And of course, it didn’t quite work, although it does get revived here and there. But of course, the songs are fantastic. Here are British people holding back on restoring gotten into their version of English because they don’t want to be barbarous Americans. That’s not even who these people are supposed to be, but listen to pleasure and privilege.

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S12: See, the pampered phase has begun, the costly clothes, every carefree figurehead, a to unlikely pose the fragrant powder and smell of the scented oil, not the slender fingers that have not known well, the elegant.

S13: He’s a private arkadia went, Oh, my sweet.

S12: Beautiful and polished, exclusive and elect, wary of outsiders, as you might suspect. See the couples dancing at the flute and violin on a tour of the channels that you can’t. And I wound up and again.

S13: OK, well.

S1: Getting what you like, what we do see is that English is full of the getting and the Godding were all about getting stuff, and I think that’s a temptation to think that that might say something about what it is to be an Anglophone and get is everywhere.

S5: Remember my pet peeve show and I talked about how I don’t love hearing people say, can I get a Coke? So I get a little pushy is just some little thing that I don’t like get is everywhere. And so you might think that get has something to do with us being very acquisitive people and very smart people have ventured this thesis. The Australian linguist Anna WERS Busca has an idea that democracy is responsible for how much we use get. The idea is that democracy encourages a sense of autonomy and that what happens then is that if something happens to you against your will, like, you know, getting fired, then it stands out that it happened to you against your will and it gets labeled by something. And next thing you know, you have get fired and frankly, maybe get laid just kind of comes out in the wash. And, you know, that’s an interesting idea. But you do have to pull the camera back before you make judgments like this. And so, you know, on that, I don’t know. For example, ask somebody, you know, who speaks Vietnamese or Thai or Lao how they use get in their language and give them some time, because imagine if somebody asked you this, how do you use get? The first thing you’d say is, you know, to get a cat and then you’d gradually realize, wait a minute, to get paid and to get people together, etc.. Well, if somebody speaks one of these South-East Asian languages, give them a little time, or if you might know somebody who speaks a really obscure South-East Asian language. This is many, many languages in this area. It’s, as we call it, a thing, their brow jwan alac mueang. The thing about these languages is that get goes absolutely wild in similar but different ways than it does in English and in many of these languages. If you say I have to go home, what you say is I get go home, not get to go as in ha ha ha. I get to go home but I get go home. They use get where we use have in that sense. Kind of like I have got to. If you are a good dancer, if you can dance you get dance. Not as and you understand the nature of dancing, you get dance. That’s how they say it. If you’re slow walker you get walking slow. That doesn’t mean that you start walking slowly. It’s that it’s a trait of yours. You get walking slow for them. Get has become very extended, bleached as we say, so that you might hear somebody who speaks one of those languages saying, well, get kind of doesn’t mean anything. And if you think about it, you can figure out how get can be extended into these spaces like a cat goes and crawls into some pipe or something like that. But still this shows that getting us doesn’t necessarily have to be about acquisitiveness, because I’m not sure that we would associate especially a lot of the smaller languages in Southeast Asia with any particular acquisitiveness in the sense that we would think of it with what happened in the development of England, etc.. Knauss comes back upon us, get his Norse and, you know, happy is Norse. It can be some of the most basic words, but get and happy and there yeah. You know, there’s a song called Get Happy and it really gets put on the map by Judy Garland at the end of the peculiar musical summer stock. And what’s really good is the arrangement. Some people might like watching her dancing around in the little little suit. But it’s a really good arrangement. This to show that there is some sort of sense of coherence in these shows is another Harold Arlen song. This is Mr. Wizard of Oz again. This time the lyric is by Ted Koehler. But this started out with Arlen as a lowly rehearsal pianist in 1929, and he was just playing Get Happy as a random thing. He would play to get people dancing during practice. And so to give people a little workout before they did the real stuff, he would just play this little thing. And actually, it was interesting, a person heard him. That person was will marry and cook. You should go look up who that was. That’s a whole other story. And he said, you know something, son? That’s actually good. You need to make that into a song. And he did. And you know what? Nobody liked it much at the time, although you can hear it in if you’re a fan of the earliest and thoroughly unwatchable Looney Tunes, it was used as the original Merrie Melodies theme song. You can hear a band happily playing it. So it wasn’t big then. It really became big after its rendition in Summer Stock by Miss Garland.

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S14: Forget your troubles. Come on, get happy. You better chase all your cars away. Shout Hallelujah. Come on, get happy. Get ready for the judgment day. The sun is shining. Come on, get happy. The Lord is waiting to take your hand. Shout out. Come on. I’m not happy. We’re going to the Promised Land. Ahead across the river, wash your sins away in the tide, it’s all so peaceful.

S2: In any case, you can reach us at Lexicon Valley, at Slate Dotcom, that’s Lexicon Valley, at Slate Dotcom, to listen to past shows and subscribe or just to reach out, go to Slate Dotcom Lexicon Valley to my faithful Jewish listeners. By the way, the name of the divorce document called aGet that is unrelated to the Germanic word, at least according to everything I know. Apparently it goes back to the language that the first known writing is in Samarian. Nobody knows what Samarian was related to. It was not a Semitic language, but in Samarian the word for document was giddyap. That probably is what became the get that we are familiar with from the Jewish tradition. In any case, Mike Volo is, as always, the editor. And I’m John for the side.

S14: And you can’t get past the Youngcare. Fly away, shout hallelujah. Get happy. Get ready for your times. Come on, get a happy. She has a way. Shout, Hallelujah, come on, get happy, get ready for the judgment day.

S15: Sun is shining, come on, get happy on his way to shake your head. Hallelujah.

S5: Come on, get happy. We’re going to the Promised Land. So what about this hamburger sandwich thing? Well, it’s about hot dogs and hamburgers. They used to be known as foreign sandwiches. They contained foreign meat. So frankfurters supposedly have this origin in Frankfurt, although, of course, all that’s complicated. But it used to be that you would have something from Frankfurt. It was thought of as a German thing. And so a hot dog was a Frankfurter sandwich, a sandwich with a frankfurter in it. I recommend that you go online and look up the song Frankfurter saying, which is connected to a certain Harry Rose. There’s no point in playing it. You have to see it. But it’s 1929 and you can see that in a certain way. 1929 was exactly like today. Just you have to go take a look. It’s a it’s a delightful clip. In any case, hamburgers were the same thing.

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S1: A hamburger steak was a steak from Hamburg. But as that connection became ever more obscure, people started thinking of it not as Hamburg or but as ham burger, because ham is meat and you have other things to think about. And so the burger must refer to the shape of it. It’s a burger made out of ham. Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have known what a burger was in that sense. That would have been alien to him. But Burger ends up splitting off and it’s thought of as a patte, just like Horlick, we say alcoholic and then Chocaholic. Abraham Lincoln would have no idea what that meant. But you can listen to people say 90 years ago when hamburgers were newer because they’re a late 19th century thing. And you can listen, for example, in the movie of the front page, not his girl Friday, but the actual front page play. This is nineteen thirty one people talking a lot. It’s a valuable document.

S16: And listen to what the press corps order before you go on what you do with your mind running down the corner, give me a hamburger sandwich. My feeling is that two hamburgers right now I’m sitting in that premium.

S1: Now note then that somebody says hamburgers not too long after eating two hamburgers right now. So we’re listening to the cusp hamburger sandwich, which nobody would say now and then hamburgers, because that’s what it’s beginning to feel like, even to people this far back. And then a little later, listen to how one of the guys says and tell them to put a lot of ketchup in those sandwiches, ask them to put a lot of ketchup. But I’m saying, okay, you know, that isn’t what we would say today. We only abstractly think of a hamburger as a sandwich. It’s the thing itself we wouldn’t say, but a lot of ketchup on those sandwiches. We would say put a lot of ketchup on those burgers. And, you know, it’s interesting, you can now hear things like this. You can watch and hear things like this because of the sound film record. Today, we have almost a hundred years of talking on film, and it is an invaluable look at where the language of today came from. And that is our Slate plus segment for this week.