Good morning, and a special greeting to those of us who are basketball fans!
Was it a trickster god who did these things to English (and American)?
You could be excused for thinking that much of English pronunciation was invented by a trickster god, one with a particularly cruel streak. After all, how else could we have come to a place where through doesn’t rhyme with though, enough doesn’t rhyme with lough, and cough doesn’t rhyme with hiccough? We’re happy to tell you that there was no trickster god involved: there are reasons for why things are the way they are. Read on, and we’ll explain one of the great mysteries of our language: why so many of the letters seem to be just sitting around doing no work.
[E.g.,] Yacht came to English from Dutch, and the Dutch pronounce the ch with a rasping sound from the back of the throat, a sound heard in German words like buch (“book”) and Scots words like loch (“lake”).
Linguists use the term velar fricative to describe this sound, with velar from the Latin word for “curtain” meaning the soft palate or the flap at the back of the roof of the mouth, and fricative from the Latin word meaning “to rub.” Since this sound isn’t part of conventional English phonetics today, the ch has become silent over time.
The same thing can be said for words that developed directly from Old English and are spelled with what is now a silent gh, like light, fright, night, and sight, which were originally pronounced with that raspy back-of-the-throat sound. The now-silent ch and gh in these words in fact represent the same former pronunciation, transcribed in different ways. In fact, the Dutch and German ancestors of sight and light and right were spelled with ch rather than gh.
This rings true for me. We have a espresso machine, automated, that went kaput and my first communication resulted in a timely response. I gave them the numbers they wanted. And waited. I tried again. And waited. Again. Awaiting. Nothing. So Philips LatteGo, we’re moving on. Two years does not a life make. Customer service issues are alive and well:
A recent survey shows Americans are more unhappy with the customer service they're getting than ever. The poor guy above has been on hold for 24 months (we assume — it's a stock photo).
Who are they? The thousands of Americans voicing their discontent with customer service. You can find them on basically any Yelp page out there.
Plenty of industries have been upended by the pandemic, and it turns out that customer service and hospitality at large have declined in the eyes of many Americans.
74% of Americans say they've had product or service problem in the past year, according to the 10th edition of the National Customer Rage Survey, which tracks satisfaction and incivility. The incidence of problems has more than doubled since 1976.
And on the other side, consumers are described as increasingly vocal about it — literally. The survey found 43% of customers yelled or raised their voice to express displeasure about their most serious problem, up from 35% in 2015.
If you've spent any time on the rage-inducing side of customer freakout TikTok, you've probably seen enough to know things feel... off.
The survey is conducted by Customer Care Measurement and Consultancy, in collaboration with the Center for Services Leadership/W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
I’m a fan of Mary Bethune Cookman:
In July 2022, Mary McLeod Bethune became the first African American woman to be honored with a statue at the US Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection. An educator and activist, Bethune appeared on a postage stamp in 1985. Her home is now a National Historic Site. Most importantly, her courage and commitment have inspired generations of Americans. Given her work in education, leadership, and public policy, she is one of the nation’s most influential leaders for the rights of women and African Americans….
After women gained the right to vote in 1920, Bethune mobilized women, especially women of color, to take full advantage of it. Her work in the area of voting rights propelled her to leadership in several major organizations and even in the government. She became president of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1924 and of the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. From 1940 until her death, she was vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons.
Bethune befriended Eleanor Roosevelt and advised Franklin Roosevelt, becoming the highest-ranking Black woman in the administration. She was part of the board that formed the Women’s Army Corps during World War II. While the Army remained racially segregated, women like Bethune ensured the Women’s Corps was racially integrated from the start. Following the war, Bethune was a delegate at the first United Nations assembly and helped draft its charter. Her tireless and far-reaching influence in so many areas, from education to health care to government, remains a lodestar for the rights of women and people of color.
Though her wish to be a missionary in Africa did not come to pass, God clearly used her in ways she could not have imagined. As Bethune wrote concerning a chapel service at Moody, “I was so happy. I was there and could kneel in that great presence with open heart and mind awaiting the realization within my own life and the baptism of the Holy Spirit of the service.” Without a doubt, God has used her mightily to bless many women and inspire generations to come.
A giant seaweed bloom – so large it can be seen from outer space – may be headed towards Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The sargassum bloom, at around 5,000 miles wide, is twice the width of the United States and is believed to be the largest in history.
Drifting between the Atlantic coast of Africa and the Gulf of Mexico, the thick mat of algae can provide a habitat for marine life and absorb carbon dioxide.
However, the giant bloom can have disastrous consequences as it gets closer to the shore. Coral, for instance, can be deprived of sunlight. As the seaweed decomposes it can release hydrogen sulfide, negatively impact the air and water and causing respiratory problems for people in the surrounding area.
John Hawthorne continues to study police culture:
Let me offer some cultural shifts that would help major departments. First, the bureaucratic work of preparing appropriate warrants can be legitimized by helping officers see themselves as key components in the broader criminal justice enterprise (beyond just arrests). Second, as Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin recently observed, simply stopping officers from using profanity during encounters could go a long way.
Third, specialized crime units can work to build connections with community leaders in higher crime areas rather than relying on “jump-stop” interactions. Fourth, as I’ve written before, the promotion of supervisory officers to higher positions of leadership must be dependent on playing by the rules.
As I said at the top of this piece, police work in hard. It ranges sporadically from the mundane to the dangerous. As much as we want law enforcement to protect us and prevent crime, most of its work comes after the fact.
Still, more attention to the structural and cultural dynamics of law enforcement would be good for line officers as well as the community. Perhaps we can stop talking about “bad apples” and begin to understand how community safety is a collaborative venture.
Always enjoy your meanderings.
March Madness is in full swing at our house. Hoping South Carolina goes all the way again this year!
I used a story Luke Powery told about Mary Bethune Cookman and John 3:16. I used that story at the end of a sermon about John 3:16. The college named after her is a United Methodist school and each UMC supports it through our Black College Fund. Well, unless they vote not to pay that line item
(I had churches that I served do that!).