The Four Hardest Things to Say in the English Language

 

No, one of them isn’t Worcestershire Sauce:

“There are four things that lead to wisdom. You ready for them?” She nodded, wondering when the police work would begin. “They are four sentences we learn to say, and mean.” Gamache held up his hand as a fist and raised a finger with each point. “I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong.”

The quote is from Louise Penny’s Three Pines mystery series.  For years, it was one of my favorites, and I’ve mentioned it, and recommended it a few times here.  Unfortunately, Ms. Penny went irremediably woke several years ago, and things haven’t been the same since.  (Unclear whether she suffers from Trump Derangement Syndrome, Trudeau Infatuation Syndrome (she’s a Canadian), or–the newest and increasingly widespread, mutated variant of the malady, Reality Rejection Syndrome. Whatever it is, it has not improved her storytelling or her writing, and the last few books have been disappointing, to say the least.)

But the first ten or so books are sublime–intelligently plotted, well written, surprising, and full of wisdom.

Whether or not Chief Inspector Gamache (he’s Penny’s central character) has cornered the market on how to find it, and while I suspect there are many other stops along the road to true wisdom, I can’t but think that a person who’s self-aware enough and humble enough to follow his advice has a very good start.

Some may not agree.  You may not agree.  Lord knows, there are people in my own family who aren’t very good at sincere apologies or asking for help when they need it.  And I’ve known plenty of people who just couldn’t admit ignorance of a subject and would never admit that they were wrong or had behaved badly.  (Mostly, a bit of probing reveals, it’s because they think acknowledging such things must mean they’re weak.  I disagree.  I think acting on each of them, sincerely and in appropriate circumstances, is a sign of strength.)

The obvious benefit, in my mind to such self-awareness and internal reflection is one’s resulting straightforward disposition and peace of mind. Less obvious, perhaps is that sorting oneself out in this way leads to the possibility of moving forward, of second chances and of getting it right the next time–all impossibilities while one is stuck blaming others, nursing grudges, and, fulminating about one’s sense of ill-use.

Pulling away from the circling drain, however, requires that we learn from our mistakes and that we resolve–at the very least, to try very hard–never to make the same ones again.

And so do we often fall so very short.

Ready, Joe Biden?  Repeat after me:

I don’t know.

I need help.

I’m sorry.

I was wrong.

If only.

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  1. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    She: Unfortunately, Ms. Penny went irremediably woke several years ago, and things haven’t been the same since.

    So true. I had to put the most current book down before I was hardly into it – she took a swipe Trump. But I do so appreciate you turning me on to the books – I enjoyed them for the last couple of years. (You do now she wrote a book with HRC don’t you?) I just don’t understand why writers have to bring their politics into a story that doesn’t require such. Oh well.

    I don’t have a hard time saying I Don’t Know but I Was Wrong has a hard time rolling off the tongue.

    • #1
  2. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Karin Slaughter did the same a few years back. She was one of my favorite crime fiction authors and then she went down the “all villains are white supremacists” route. Lazy as hell.  

    So far S. J Rozan has avoided that, which surprises me since she is in the New York City literary world. Pleasantly surprises me. 

    • #2
  3. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):
    I just don’t understand why writers have to bring their politics into a story that doesn’t require such. Oh well.

    I agree. Though strangely I don’t mind it when reading Vince Flynn. (Though, to be fair, he doesn’t really ever bring modern politics into his books, just an attitude about what constitutes the good guys and the bad guys that would most likely line up with one side of the current political spectrum – nothing wrong with that.)

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):
    I don’t have a hard time saying I Don’t Know but I Was Wrong has a hard time rolling off the tongue.

    I am no problem with three of them, because they are so often true. But “I need help” is hard for me.  Though it is often true too.

    I have read only the first Gamache book – it was very enjoyable.  I have the next three loaded up on my Audible.  Thanks for letting me know I don’t have to go past #10.

     

     

    • #3
  4. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    It’s still harder to say Worcestershire Sauce.  Can people really pronounce that?  I imagine British pronouncing it but I can’t see any Americans articulating it properly.  LOL.

    • #4
  5. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Being able to say those four things is probably the basis of a happy marriage.

    • #5
  6. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Being able to say those four things is probably the basis of a happy marriage.

    But I’m not going to say I’m sorry if I’m not the one who’s wrong.

    • #6
  7. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    It’s not that hard to pronounce Worcestershire sauce.  You just can’t pay any attention to the way it’s spelled.

    That’s not quite true.  You have to get the “W” in.

    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Manny (View Comment):

    It’s still harder to say Worcestershire Sauce. Can people really pronounce that? I imagine British pronouncing it but I can’t see any Americans articulating it properly. LOL.

    Vivo ut serviam.  I live that I may serve:

    https://rightwingknitjob.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/worcestershire-sauce.mp3

     

    • #8
  9. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce.  It was horrible.  Lea and Perrins is it.

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wholeheartedly agree.  If it’s not Lea & Perrins, it’s not wushy . . .

    • #10
  11. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even considered such apostasy.

    AFAIK, Lea and Perrins is manufactured in only two places in the world: Worcester and Pittsburgh.  That’s a consequence of it being bought by Heinz at some point, whose worldwide HQ has always been in Pittsburgh.  Parts of the old ketchup factory on the North Side were converted for purpose, with the result that there were a few disgruntled neighbors, and I think even some lawsuits, until people’s sense of smell adjusted (or they lost it altogether) and the strong anchovy component of the sauce ceased to be an issue.  Heinz later merged with Kraft, so now L&P is a subsidiary of Kraft.  Sigh.  Still, it’s kind of them to have insured that–whether I’m at home in the UK or at home in the US–I have a plentiful local supply.

    • #11
  12. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even considered such apostasy.

    AFAIK, Lea and Perrins is manufactured in only two places in the world: Worcester and Pittsburgh. That’s a consequence of it being bought by Heinz at some point, whose worldwide HQ has always been in Pittsburgh. Parts of the old ketchup factory on the North Side were converted for purpose, with the result that there were a few disgruntled neighbors, and I think even some lawsuits, until people’s sense of smell adjusted (or they lost it altogether) and the strong anchovy component of the sauce ceased to be an issue. Heinz later merged with Kraft, so now L&P is a subsidiary of Kraft. Sigh. Still, it’s kind of them to have insured that–whether I’m at home in the UK or at home in the US–I have a plentiful local supply.

    You had to tell me it was owned by Heinz.  I’ll probably have to quit buying it now.

    • #12
  13. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Well, I suppose–technically–Heinz doesn’t exist anymore either.  It’s all Kraft.  I guess you pays your money and you takes your choice.

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even considered such apostasy.

    AFAIK, Lea and Perrins is manufactured in only two places in the world: Worcester and Pittsburgh. That’s a consequence of it being bought by Heinz at some point, whose worldwide HQ has always been in Pittsburgh. Parts of the old ketchup factory on the North Side were converted for purpose, with the result that there were a few disgruntled neighbors, and I think even some lawsuits, until people’s sense of smell adjusted (or they lost it altogether) and the strong anchovy component of the sauce ceased to be an issue. Heinz later merged with Kraft, so now L&P is a subsidiary of Kraft. Sigh. Still, it’s kind of them to have insured that–whether I’m at home in the UK or at home in the US–I have a plentiful local supply.

    You had to tell me it was owned by Heinz. I’ll probably have to quit buying it now.

    If the food is good, it doesn’t need any kind of sauce on it.

    • #14
  15. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    If the food is good, it doesn’t need any kind of sauce on it.

    That’s true to a certain extent, but some sauces enhance the flavor of some dishes.  I like Worcestershire and Tabasco on my hamburgers.

    • #15
  16. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Manny (View Comment):

    It’s still harder to say Worcestershire Sauce. Can people really pronounce that? I imagine British pronouncing it but I can’t see any Americans articulating it properly. LOL.

    Properly articulated, it’s “woost-sher sauce”, where the dash is at most a schwa, and not required.

    We get all jacked up because we try to phonics our way through unfamiliar words.

    • #16
  17. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even considered such apostasy.

    AFAIK, Lea and Perrins is manufactured in only two places in the world: Worcester and Pittsburgh. That’s a consequence of it being bought by Heinz at some point, whose worldwide HQ has always been in Pittsburgh. Parts of the old ketchup factory on the North Side were converted for purpose, with the result that there were a few disgruntled neighbors, and I think even some lawsuits, until people’s sense of smell adjusted (or they lost it altogether) and the strong anchovy component of the sauce ceased to be an issue. Heinz later merged with Kraft, so now L&P is a subsidiary of Kraft. Sigh. Still, it’s kind of them to have insured that–whether I’m at home in the UK or at home in the US–I have a plentiful local supply.

    You had to tell me it was owned by Heinz. I’ll probably have to quit buying it now.

    … WHO SERVED IN VIETNAM, BY THE WAY!

    • #17
  18. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    BDB (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even considered such apostasy.

    AFAIK, Lea and Perrins is manufactured in only two places in the world: Worcester and Pittsburgh. That’s a consequence of it being bought by Heinz at some point, whose worldwide HQ has always been in Pittsburgh. Parts of the old ketchup factory on the North Side were converted for purpose, with the result that there were a few disgruntled neighbors, and I think even some lawsuits, until people’s sense of smell adjusted (or they lost it altogether) and the strong anchovy component of the sauce ceased to be an issue. Heinz later merged with Kraft, so now L&P is a subsidiary of Kraft. Sigh. Still, it’s kind of them to have insured that–whether I’m at home in the UK or at home in the US–I have a plentiful local supply.

    You had to tell me it was owned by Heinz. I’ll probably have to quit buying it now.

    … WHO SERVED IN VIETNAM, BY THE WAY!

    I didn’t know that.  Thanks.

    • #18
  19. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    BDB (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    It’s still harder to say Worcestershire Sauce. Can people really pronounce that? I imagine British pronouncing it but I can’t see any Americans articulating it properly. LOL.

    Properly articulated, it’s “woost-sher sauce”, where the dash is at most a schwa, and not required.

    We get all jacked up because we try to phonics our way through unfamiliar words.

    I suspected glossing over some of those syllables. Of course they had to evolve to schwas and glossing over. Schwas and glossing over syllables are a result of simplifications over time. That word, which must have been pronounced fully at one point or it wouldn’t be spelled that way, just screams for simplification. 

    • #19
  20. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I’m not going to argue this one.  Based on the old commercial, though, I propose that the fifth hardest word to pronounce in English is “Isuzu.”

    • #20
  21. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m not going to argue this one. Based on the old commercial, though, I propose that the fifth hardest word to pronounce in English is “Isuzu.”

    Eetsy-boo-boo!

    • #21
  22. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    I’m not going to argue this one. Based on the old commercial, though, I propose that the fifth hardest word to pronounce in English is “Isuzu.”

    Gesundheit. 

    • #22
  23. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Flicker (View Comment):

    BDB (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    My wife bought some Kroger Worcestershire sauce. It was horrible. Lea and Perrins is it.

    I wouldn’t know. I’ve never even considered such apostasy.

    AFAIK, Lea and Perrins is manufactured in only two places in the world: Worcester and Pittsburgh. That’s a consequence of it being bought by Heinz at some point, whose worldwide HQ has always been in Pittsburgh. Parts of the old ketchup factory on the North Side were converted for purpose, with the result that there were a few disgruntled neighbors, and I think even some lawsuits, until people’s sense of smell adjusted (or they lost it altogether) and the strong anchovy component of the sauce ceased to be an issue. Heinz later merged with Kraft, so now L&P is a subsidiary of Kraft. Sigh. Still, it’s kind of them to have insured that–whether I’m at home in the UK or at home in the US–I have a plentiful local supply.

    You had to tell me it was owned by Heinz. I’ll probably have to quit buying it now.

    … WHO SERVED IN VIETNAM, BY THE WAY!

    I didn’t know that. Thanks.

    I think the person referred to here is probably Heinz-by-proxy John F. Kerry.  (You may decide what the “F” stands for on your own.)

    I am conflicted about this.  When I was a young college student, I spent a summer living at Rosemont Farm, the Heinz estate just outside of Pittsburgh. (Some of you may know the name from the firm “Rosemont Seneca Partners” which is an investment fund firm founded by Hunter Biden (!), Christopher Heinz*** and Devon Archer.) 

    I was at Rosemont Farm in my role as the nanny to three children who were the nieces and nephew of Senator John Heinz and his wife Teresa (maiden name Ferreira).  I got the “gig” because the children’s mother, Mrs. Heinz’s sister-in-law, was a colleague of Dad’s at the African Institute, at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  She was in DC for the summer studying something or other, and the kids needed a minder and someone to ferry them to and from summer school and various activities.  Enter, She.

    The family lived in what used to be the gatehouse on the property.  It was a lovely place, not much more than a cottage, but gorgeous gardens, and—of course–adjacent to the big house with its tennis courts and other amenities.

    I never met the Senator (who died in a helicopter crash in 1991) but I met Teresa Heinz a few times.  Contrary to her public image, she was charming, warm, friendly, down-to-earth and interested in the tentative young woman who was caring for her brother’s children.  I remember sitting on the concrete pad outside the (several) garages, grilling hot dogs, and listening to her laugh about the lack of girl-children in her own family, and how, as the mother of three boys, she could never be sure of the state of the toilet seat if she, half-awake and bleary-eyed had to pee in the middle of the night, and how many times she’d fallen in as a result.

    And, because of those memories, no matter what, since, I’ve always held her close in my heart.

    John F. Kerry–Teresa’s second husband–not so much.  I don’t have much time for him, and I don’t consider him a Heinz at all.

    ***Christopher Heinz, the first cousin of my small charges, was about four or five when I met him.  A ferociously bright child, an absolute hellion, and the despair (lovingly) of his mother.  I remember reading that he quit “Rosemont Seneca Partners” when Biden and Archer associated themselves with Burisma, because he feared reputational fallout from the rather shady deal.  As I said,  nobody’s fool.

    • #23
  24. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    BDB (View Comment):

    Properly articulated, it’s “woost-sher sauce”, where the dash is at most a schwa, and not required.

    We get all jacked up because we try to phonics our way through unfamiliar words.

    There are many such in the “two countries separated by a common language” paradigm.  For instance:

    It’s “Edin-bru,” not “Edin-boro.”

    It’s “Buckinghm,” not “BuckingHAM.”

    It’s “Wimbledn,” not “WimbleTON.”

    It’s “SHROWSbry” not “ShrewsBERY”

    And so on.

    • #24
  25. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    She (View Comment):

    I never met the Senator (who died in a helicopter crash in 1991) but I met Teresa Heinz a few times.  Contrary to her public image, she was charming, warm, friendly, down-to-earth and interested in the tentative young woman who was caring for her brother’s children.  I remember sitting on the concrete pad outside the (several) garages, grilling hot dogs, and listening to her laugh about the lack of girl-children in her own family, and how, as the mother of three boys, she could never be sure of the state of the toilet seat if she, half-awake and bleary-eyed had to pee in the middle of the night, and how many times she’d fallen in as a result.

    Concrete?!  Sorry.  I couldn’t attend to the rest after this triggering.

    Actually I think it’s a nice memory.  I never said that Teresa was not nice.  I just think Kerry is disingenuous.

    • #25
  26. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Actually I think it’s a nice memory.  I never said that Teresa was not nice.  I just think Kerry is disingenuous.

    Yes, got that.  I think he’s worse than disingenous though.

    • #26
  27. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    She (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    Actually I think it’s a nice memory. I never said that Teresa was not nice. I just think Kerry is disingenuous.

    Yes, got that. I think he’s worse than disingenous though.

    I’m trying not to be volatile.  How do you say skeletal.  SKE let al.  Or ske LEE tul?

    • #27
  28. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Flicker (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    I never met the Senator (who died in a helicopter crash in 1991) but I met Teresa Heinz a few times. Contrary to her public image, she was charming, warm, friendly, down-to-earth and interested in the tentative young woman who was caring for her brother’s children. I remember sitting on the concrete pad outside the (several) garages, grilling hot dogs, and listening to her laugh about the lack of girl-children in her own family, and how, as the mother of three boys, she could never be sure of the state of the toilet seat if she, half-awake and bleary-eyed had to pee in the middle of the night, and how many times she’d fallen in as a result.

    Concrete?! Sorry. I couldn’t attend to the rest after this triggering.

    Actually I think it’s a nice memory. I never said that Teresa was not nice. I just think Kerry is disingenuous.

    “Disingenuous” is being kind.  A capital jerk and liar.

    • #28
  29. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Back in my rugby playing days, we played a touring side from the University of Edinburgh.  They were on a budget, so put up with some of us.  The main thing I remember is that they called cookies biscuits.

    • #29
  30. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    The other thing I remember is that they could drop kick field goals from 30 yards out.

    • #30