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1 June 2009

Monday's Words

I've just returned from a fantastic week in my native Wales. I'll try and post some pictures later in the week, but today is the day we have a look at words. Sometimes strange and exotic and sometimes deceptively simple.

Take 'yogurt' for instance. Well it's certainly the weather for it. The last few days have been glorious, and most of the time it was the same in Wales. The middle of the week was a little cooler and rather misty, but the end of the week was as sunny and warm as the previous weekend - Bank Holiday weekend for us in the UK, and also a holiday in the US. It's quite unusual, it has to be said, for the weather to be so pleasant over a bank holiday. Beautiful sunshine had us reaching for icecream and long cool drinks - and yogurt.

Yogurt, delivious and creamy. Much healthier with fresh fruit, than cream, and I love it with honey, But is it 'yogurt' or 'yoghurt'? I've always spelt it with an 'h' but it's now becoming more common to spell it without one, and I believe it's been spelt like that in the USA for many years.

According to Michael Quinion in his issue of *'World Wide Words' recently, "both were based on the Turkish word they come from. This is written as "yogurt" in modern Turkish but with a
hacek over the "g" to mark a guttural consonant that doesn't exist in English. This was transliterated as "gh" when it appeared inEnglish in the early seventeenth century. Spellings with the "h" were still usual when the product began to appear widely in Britain in the 1960s. The Times wrote in April 1967: 'Fruity yoghourt is enjoying a market boom unparalleled by any other dairy product in existence.' Most Commonwealth countries still seem to prefer the form with the "h", though Canadians have the hybrid "yogourt", presumably under the influence of French."

So it seems that there's no real 'right' or 'wrong' way to spell 'yogurt' although that is the form that seems to be most popular these days. Personally I don't really care how it's spelt, I'm just off to enjoy a bowl of the lovely thick natural Greek stuff - with honey!

So - how do you like your yogurt - or yoghurt?

*Thanks to Michael Quinion of WORLD WIDE WORDS
World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2009. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewords.org