Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Kerching, ker-ching, ka-ching and, er… ur

with 4 comments

We love him

We love him

The loyal reader of this blog (Hi, Gladys – how’s the arthritis?) will know that Guy Keleny, The Independent‘s grammar maven, refuses to marry me. Yet somehow fate brings us together: I got interested in the expression that people sometimes use when they want to suggest that something is a money-spinner. It’s kerching, or ker-ching, or ka-ching. But which is correct?

Googling found Guy. *sigh*. He’d picked up on this very issue in one of his columns (scroll down to the end). A journo on the paper had used the spelling ‘kerching’ which, as Guy points out, sounds like a verb. The spelling, he says, should be ker-ching.

But Oxford Dictionaries apparently disagrees. Its spelling is ‘ka-ching’ (follow the link to hear how it’s pronounced.). The entry explains that the word is a noun. It’s also onomatopoeic in derivation – mimicking the sound of a cash register.

Ker-ching it is then. Not that I’m biased.

Er… ur??

untendertitledNo, not the ancient Mesopotamian (from the Greek meaning ‘between two rivers’, by the way) city of Ur, or textspeak for ‘you are’, but this, from the introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night, Wordsworth Classics edition:

‘Scholars describe various ur-versions of Tender is the Night…’

I kind of guessed what it meant, but had to consult Oxford Dictionaries for the exact meaning (translation: I didn’t know what it meant). It’s from German and means ‘primitive’, ‘original’ or ‘earliest’.

Interestingly, Oxford Dictionaries uses it without the hyphen, its example being ‘urtext’. Horrible, isn’t it? Looks horrible, sounds horrible – with or without the hyphen. And as unnecessary as something very unnecessary indeed. Here’s my rewrite, Wordsworth Classics:

‘Scholars describe various earlier versions of Tender is the Night…’

You’re welcome.

Couldn’t resist…

5c7c51b99254bbf0de3fe374b6be1c49

I had some more stuff to share, but this post is already too long. Watch this space! The butler’s fine, thanks. He’s writing a novel. Don’t ask.

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4 Responses

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  1. Another US variant is “cha-ching”, which has been rattling around TV since the ’90s. It’s considered crass, so it is often applied in a comedic context. (http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/money-slang-marketplaces-urban-finance-dictionary)

    Yes, I’m writing “the DIY film critic book”, and there might be a second one if I get hired for the feature film being shot here next summer.

    Invisible Mikey

    24/07/2015 at 6:24 pm

    • Hi, Mikey

      Lovely to hear from you. Yes, I didn’t think of ‘cha-ching’. Not listed in Oxford Dictionaries, interestingly. Glad to hear about the writing. 🙂

      Wordwatch

      24/07/2015 at 7:04 pm

  2. Padre rings a bell.

    petebowes

    02/01/2016 at 8:48 am


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