Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Book passage/One Man's Garden
"Wort" is the old word for plant, and it survives in such forms as mugwort, sandwort, figwort, and so forth, and is pronounced "wirt"; in fact, it was formerly spelled "wyrt." It has the same vowel sound as world, worthy, worship, worst, worry, worm, word, work, and there is a great plot in America to make wort rhyme with fort. No. WIRT. It is rude to correct someone's pronunciation in conversation, so I never do that, but it curls my teeth to hear it wrong, and on my more paranoid days I believe there is a conspiracy for every human being who cannot speak English to dash up to me and say wort like fort. Truly, the sufferings of a garden writer are vast.
Henry Mitchell, One Man's Garden