Friday 12 April 2013


I wrote earlier about the relationships between skipped generations. The parents of the grand-daughter, caring and respectful, asked how we wanted to be called.  Would it be a Victorian "Grandfather", a familiar "Grampa", a slightly disrespectful "Gramps"? Or a late 20th century "Bob"?  "Sir", followed by a firm handshake and the exchange of money - preferably half-a-crown???  Now my Irish is crap, but I do like language and we live in Ireland, so I ventured "Seanathair" and that was agreed. Although both parents had spent time in Dublin (one born there, the other as a Celtic scholar parsing Kelly's Book in TCD), seanathair rather too quickly morphed into "seanchai" - written before 1948 as seanchaidhthe: story-teller, guardian of old lore - which was respectful enough for now.  But well before The Child can cobble together a three word sentence, this has slumped to "Shonkey", which I feel you must agree is at best facetious.

So what to do?  No. 2 Daughter and her bloke are in the midst of learning Japanese, largely through a set of CDs by the inestimable Michel Thomas, but there is about the house a Japanese dictionary and a book of Kanji.  Using these resources, I gallumphed rough-shod over 3000 years of Oriental culture and phoneticised Shonkey as Sho-n-Ki to cobble together the word that appears at the head of this post.  Further, I am going to insist that this means "Prime Force".  Not a penny, let alone half-a-crown, will leave my purse unless this is acknowledged.