Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Scone, scon or scoon?

Scone is an odd word. It doesn't have just one but two pronunciations which are different from what you would expect them to be. Talk about a word which is trying just a bit too hard to be different.

Scone, as in scoon, is a palace in Scotland, famous for having once harboured the Stone of Scone on its grounds. To the eternal chagrin of poets in almost the entire world, the word "stone" in Stone of Scone is pronounced stoon only in very selected parts of Scotland, where thick accents are prevalent.

The Stone is used as a prop during the coronation of British monarchs and is, basically, a rock.

A scone, as in scon, is not, unless your chef has really messed up. Scons are pieces of quick bread. Quick might refer the how quickly they disappear from your plate once they've been put before you. You might say they are fit for a king, if you felt inclined to draw a rather bad parallel to the aforementioned Stone.

Scones, as in scones, oddly do not exist. Or perhaps they once did, but have been lost in the mists of time. They might have been edible rocks, in which case their loss to humankind is not much to be lamented. Or they might have been foodstuffs used as props during druidic ceremonies, in which case the emerging Christian religion with its Borgian attitudes toward other religions ("Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated") apparently found no use for them, or they would have survived as sacramental bread.

There is one thing that Scoon and scons have in common: while they have been exported to other parts of the world at one time or another, they both have their origin in Scotland.

Which, by the way, is never pronounced Scootland.

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