Interested in Language
Can somebody explain me the meaning of the sentence "somethink on a homnibus"?
The landlady has a son who, she told me, is “somethink on a homnibus”. He comes occasionally to see her. I think he drinks, for he talks very loud, regardless of the hour of the day or night, and tumbles about over the furniture downstairs.
(Algernon Blackwood, The Listener)
It is quite plain to me it is an incorrect version of "something on an omnibus" but I am not sure if the son drives the omnibus or what.
Thanks if you decide to help an enthusiastic autodidact.
The writer has tried to write phonetically the lady's mispronunciation of two English words. Actually, changing "ing" at the end of a word to "ink" is quite common (and quite "common" i.e. not "posh").
I don't know what the politically correct term is, but less educated people or people who have a particularly "common" accent (regardless of their education) say, for example "nuffink" instead of "nothing".
The lady does not know exactly what her son does for a living but he works on board a bus (public transport) so he is "something on an omnibus" (this is what we used to call buses). However, her accent/pronunciation mean that it sounds like "somethink on a homnibus". It is impossible to say what his job is exactly.
In years gone by, some people thought it made them sound more genteel/posh/upper-class if they added a slight "h" sound before a vowel. They might say "a helephant" instead of "an elephant". This is what happened with "omnibus". I suspect she is a lower-class/working-class lady who is trying to sound as if she is of a higher class.
There are some fantastic examples of it in the film version of My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.
Here is one short example (not quite what you were talking about) but you will notice that although she messes up the "H" at the start of most of the words, she then adds it to the start of "ever".
Last edited by emsr2d2; 07-Dec-2014 at 17:21.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.