Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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I'm 'Arry the Fifth, I Am
Okay, here's a non-festive puzzle especially for non-festive people. In Shakespeare's Henry IV and V plays Prince/King Henry is frequently called 'Hal'. And sometimes Harry, as in 'God for Harry, England and St George!'.

The idea is that Hal and Harry are both short for Henry. But to be honest I've never come across this contraction anywhere other than in reference to English kings (not that I've known many Henrys irl). In my mind, Harry is normally short for Harold.

Hal/Harry wasn't Shakespeare's invention - Henry is also called Harry in the earlier Famous Victories, and Henry VIII was certainly nicknamed Harry ("Harry our king is hunting for to bring his stag to bay", etc.). But when did that contraction for Henry come in? And when (if it has) did it die out?

I've not looked into the matter, but it occurs to me that it would be kind of cool if the usage derived from Henry V himself, who was the first king to make a concerted effort to move court language from French to English. Given that Henry is a quintessentially French name, might he have been tempted to connect it to a quintessentially English one - i.e. Harold?

Harrison = Henryson.

Interesting!

In current French pronunciation of "Henri", the "n" is not pronounced strongly - the name can sound (to ears used to a strong pronunciation of the "n") something like "Orry".
It's not impossible that in Henry V's time (or Shakespeare's), the pronunciation of "Henry" was roughly similar, allowing for a shift to "Harry" with a shortish "a", like hurry /hʌri/.

Okay, that makes sense - thank you! So, did 'Harry' as a diminutive of 'Harold' come along later? Or are Henry and Harold cognate at some deep level?

Other way round. Harry was the popular form from very early on. "Not until the 17th century did the form Henry (as opposed to Harry) become the standard vernacular form, mainly under the influence of the Latin form Henricus and the French Henri." For Harry/Hal, compare Sarah/Sally and Mary/Molly.

Nine

For Harry/Hal, compare Sarah/Sally and Mary/Molly.

Ah, that makes sense. And, in more recent years, Derek/Del. That adding of 'l' to a word that ends in a vowel is a very Bristolian trick, but I guess it does have wider currency.

Is it just a happy coincidence, then, that Harry is also a diminutive of Harold?

Right. As in the joke about the farmer with three daughters he called Idle, Normal, and Evil.

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That's pretty much the joke: the farmer (who has a Bristolian accent) is saying that his daughters are named Ida, Norma, and Eva.

Nine

I think that turns up in Fire and Hemlock, doesn't it? A Bristol builder I used to know kept saying "ariel" for "area", as in "I need to measure the ariel of this floor". He also said "heighth", which I found appealingly Miltonic.

DWJ knew a Bristol woman whose husband had a heart condition, and had to go on "beetle-blockers."

Nine

In the case of Derek/Del and Terry/Tel, it's a London thing. The l isn't an l, it's a w, the result of trying to truncate a word on the r.

The Polish have a letter for it, Ł. Hence Łódź is pronounced "Woodge".

I've never encountered Harry as anything other than short for Henry. Initially I assumed it was 'Hal' that you were querying. Don't know where or when 'Harry' originated, though. And I don't think it's died out yet, if there are still people making the connection.

It's pretty clearly a case of my ignorance in this case. (I just asked my daughter what she thought 'Harry' was short for. Her answer: 'Harrison?')

According to the E. G. Withycombe's earlier edition of The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, Harold "is found from time to time in the 12th and 13th C but was not common and seems to have died out altogether." On the other hand, Henry was massively popular. "Henri in English pronunciation became Herryor Harry, and this was the usual English form of the name until the 17th C. At the present time, Harry is often regarded as a mere pet-form of Henry instead of the right English version of the name."

Nine

Stephen Greenblatt and Ramie Targoff named their son Harry (proper name, not nickname).

My cousin and her husband also called their eldest Harry. I think I'm right in saying it wasn't short for anything: using short names a proper names was a bit of a thing around then (late '80s).

I would be rather surprised to find Harold to have been a common English medieval name. Of the two pre-Conquest King Harolds of England, Harold I was the son of Canute (who was, of course, a Dane) and Harold II had a Danish mother - he was the son of Godwin, whose rise to power seems to be attributable to his having been one of Canute's early English supporters. Wikipedia derives Harold from Old English Hereweald, which could be possible - except that it is far closer to the Scandinavian Haraldr than to Hereweald.

As a name, Harold does not seem to be cognate to Henry (which originally comes from something fairly close to modern German Heinrich). On the other hand, I would not be at all surprised to find upwardly-mobile twelfth-century Herewealds, Hereweards, Hereberhts, Herebalds or, for that matter, Viking-descended Haralds adjusting their names to Herry or Harry.

Thanks for cultivating that small acre in the vast terra incognita of my ignorance!

I would not be at all surprised to find upwardly-mobile twelfth-century Herewealds, Hereweards, Hereberhts, Herebalds or, for that matter, Viking-descended Haralds adjusting their names to Herry or Harry.

Sad but true.

At the present time, Harry is often regarded as a mere pet-form of Henry instead of the right English version of the name.

derspatchel, reading this thread over my shoulder, says that H.L. Mencken's first name was Henry, but he was known within his family as Harry.

Thank you, derspatchel!

Charlotte Yonge's History of Christian Names says "Its right native shape is Harry; the other form is only an imitation of French spelling," which may be why Harry May is not a Henry. (The Stokesley Secret does have a Henry, though, known as Hal.)

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