Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Three Ha's

It is a silly little thing, hardly worth discussing, but still I want to discuss it.

So this is the theory and it has to do with the meanings of ha, or ha-ha, or ha-ha-ha.

A one-syllable ‘ha’. What does it mean? I hear Hub say it a lot. He says it when he is working on a problem and in the process something positive is accomplished or discovered. ‘Ha’ is a good thing.

Now think about ha-ha. Another positive meaning—something amusing.

But ha-ha-ha. Do you remember hearing that in conversation? If you do, did you notice the negative meaning? That three ha’s usually signify a kind of sneering contempt?

And of course, remember when you heard ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. Magically that lengthier repetition gives ‘ha’ a positive meaning of total hilarity.

So now that is the theory. The negativity of three ha’s is something I came upon recently in a book. I believe it was in “The Curiosity Shop” by Charles Dickens. (Don’t quote me on that though, because I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and was unable to relocate the page for reference.)

But going back to our original conversation, I have to say that when I think about my own experiences, I recall many times in conversations with friends, if a joke fell flat, the response from the audience to the joke-teller was invariably three evenly spaced ha’s. And other times, when a joke was very funny, the audience complemented the teller with four or more ha’s. So as silly as the theory is, I think it is true.
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And so now, if the theory is true, why does the exact same syllable render such conflicting meaning dependent on the number of repetitions? Those three ha’s seed and expand an aggravation within similar to the aggravation of listening to a musical performance punctuated by errors.

And so, with this new enlightenment, I begin to wonder if one shouldn’t be mindful of syllabic rhythm when composing a love sonnet, or a poem honoring the beauty of nature? They say the magic in poetry is the coupling of the words with a hypnotizing rhythm and that might be more important than even the content of the text. So in light of the theory expressed in the foregoing paragraphs, it might be well to stay away from three-gaited syllabic lines or meters.

I mean, truthfully, wouldn’t we all be a little chagrined, if door bells went ding-dong-ding, and clocks went tick, tock, tick? My beeper alarm clock goes beep-beep-beep, beep-beep-beep and God help me, let’s not even go there.

I don’t know enough about musical bars, beats, and measures to analyze the syllabic beats, but I wonder if pleasant or disagreeable melodies are tied to this same theory? If the theory is correct, then perhaps the triple lilt is the flaw that splays emotions all over the back fence when seduction is what we had in mind.

So maybe it would be well for us to pay attention to the beat cause it might be sounds in our environment that layer distress in our minds. Maybe it’s not situations in our day-to-day lives. Maybe the real cause of our distress is syllabic triplets in the beat. I’m just saying.
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And so, now in conclusion, I have given this a lot of thought in the past few days. And then just when I decided to dismiss it all, an eight-year-old from next door asked me if I wanted to play “knock, knock, knock”.

I immediately felt that flash of edginess that three ha’s engender and without thinking snapped, “I know whose there. Someone who can’t count!”
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The thing I still remain unsure of is whether the aggravation is an uneven lilt or a three-legged lilt.

14 comments:

WheelDancer said...

Ha! Another great observation of the quirks surrounding us.

anne partain said...

Roberta, I don't know either, but it sure was fun reading! :)

Roberta S said...

Yes, WheelDancer. Yes, indeed. You made me chuckle when I read your comment.

Thank you for visiting.

Roberta S said...

Glad you enjoyed the read, anne p. I expect others who read this think I should get a life, but if a few good friends find amusement here, I'm happy. Thank you for stopping by and thanks for the encouragement.

Pauline said...

ha ha. And hahahahahaha!

Could that uncomfortable feeling stem from the notion that bad luck is considered to come in threes and the association arises unbidden yet subtly unrecognized?

Roberta S said...

Hi Pauline. I think that rather an association with the bad luck theory...this theory is unique onto itself. I think, but of course I don't know.

Still, the humor remains...for me...and seems to be, for you, as well. Thank you for visiting. (Ha's extended beyond 3 repetitions)...

norasnovel said...

How funny this is, Roberta, and you're so right. I've often thought the same thing about the sound we make of: "umm". It is sometimes "ump hmm." And that means "no," of course. But if we sound "hmm," it signifies interest or puzzlement, "tell me more." If it sounds like "um hmm," it means "yes," agreement. Or is it just too early in the morning for me? Love the way your mind works.

Roberta S said...

Hi nora. That observation is fascinating as well. I'm impressed how well you articulated that in writ rather than speech. So now I have a new thought to contemplate. hmm...

brad4d said...

I got a great aha from your insight on ha. Thanks for the thoughts.

Roberta S said...

Thanks for visiting, brad4d. I got a big smile on my face because you took the time to stop by.

Himanshu said...

Very interesting observation. Thanks for sharing this.

Roberta S said...

Hi Himanshu. Thanks for commenting. I've been over visiting your place and was glad to be there. I enjoyed your post and artwork as well.

I will definitely be over to see you again very soon.

Himanshu said...

I am honored to have you visiting my pages Roberta. I happened to stumble upon your blog by chance and I am too glad that I did. I have been going through your various posts and have enjoyed every bit of it.

You have won me as an ardent reader to your blog(s) now and well all I can say is "Thank you so much for writing all this". It has helped me see life in a very different perspective. I really wish I could pour my thoughts as well as you.

Knowing Hub from your posts has been a delight too. My regards to him and all the best for your continued writing.

Roberta S said...

Thank you, thank you, Himanshu. Welcome to my world. I blush with pleasure and appreciation for those kind comments.