One Little Word

My Dad has a beautiful but. You can hear it coming a mile off. Yes you read right. Dad is one of the most considerate, fair people I know. A side effect of this is he always seems to see both sides of a problem, so when weighing up pros and cons of an issue or item, he will list all the good aspects, BUT, then list all the negatives.

One little word can make all the difference.

I catch myself using “just” far too much. “I’m just turning off the computer” (after I’ve checked my email, surfed three news sites, updated my Facebook status, sent two tweets and waited for their replies). “I was just about to do that” (after reading my book / playing PlayStation / oh crap, I completely forgot about that, but I’m not going to let on).

Anyone who watches the plethora of police / highway patrol / breath-testing shows will know that “a couple” of drinks never actually means “two” (unless it’s a couple of litre-sized glasses).

Similarly when a girl says “Oh, you’re so sweet, let’s just be friends” she never means she wants to be friends with you, and especially not “friends with benefits.” I only learned what that expression meant in the last few years. Up till that point, to me, “friends with benefits” meant my (male) mate had a Sega Master System, and I only had a Commodore 64, but I digress.

One little word that will get you chucked out of the Frame household faster than anything is “the”. Especially when it is used as the prefix for “Hawke’s Bay”.

To all the reporters, TV weather people, associated media and general public, may I just say this: “THERE IS NO ‘THE’ IN HAWKE’S BAY!” The same goes for Wairarapa, Waikato and Manawatu, but you still see those three little letters creeping in to daily usage.

“The Hutt Valley” in Wellington, by comparison is fine, as it was a valley named after someone named Hutt (sadly, it wasn’t “Jabba the” – I checked)

“The” is what’s known as a definite article, so must refer to, or precede a noun (naming word) i.e.: the cat, the book. “The Hawke’s Bay Hospital” or “the Hawke’s Bay region” is fine, as they describe the Hospital that is located in Hawke’s Bay and the region known as Hawke’s Bay. But describing the region solely as “The Hawke’s Bay” doesn’t work as it doesn’t describe anything – The Hawke’s Bay what? You don’t say “The Auckland”, “The Canterbury” or “The Otago”, do you?

“Aha!” you may say, the big body of water the region semi-surrounds is Hawke’s Bay, isn’t it? Well, no it’s not. To quote Wikipedia: “The bay itself is Hawke Bay, whereas the region which surrounds it bears the bay’s former name, Hawke’s Bay.”

”Hawke Bay” was named by Captain, then Lieutenant, James (as a Star Trek fan, I always want to add a “T” in the middle here) Cook after Sir Edward Hawke, First Lord of the Admiralty in 1769, when Cook discovered it (as well as Australia, but we don’t care about that part as much, do we?)

And in any case, using correct grammar and “the” would make it “The Bay of Hawke”, just as our nation’s fellow famous bays are named “The Bay of Islands” and “The Bay of Plenty”

So endeth the lesson, dear reader and media-type. There is no such place as “The Hawke’s Bay”. Please stop referring to it as such, or we may exile you to The Chatham Islands!

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