This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Word To Use Today: homage.

I'd like to pay homage to that transcendent genius JS Bach.

Unfortunately, though, I can't. Well, I don't know how to say homage, do I?

Is it HOMMidge?

Or should I go more French and say omAHJE?

I've even heard tales of US academics going with OMMidge.

Oh dear.
Well, I'm not a US academic, so I needn't bother with OMMidge; and although the pronunciation omAHJE is used to pay tribute to very artistic people, on the whole it they're usually relatively modern artistic people, like Pierre Boulez or Roman Polanski.

(Although I do remember a piece called Homage to Bach by a composer called Woof. No, really.)

As it happens, my dictionaries only recognise HOMMidge. And, do you know, I don't think that the intensely busy JS Bach would have had much time for listening to an omAHJE. The word gives the impression that the homage is at least as clever as the work it's taken as its inspiration - and also that the cleverness is quite as important as the work.

And that goes against the essence of JS Bach's genius, because Bach's cleverness, even though it was unsurpassed, wasn't the important thing about it at all.

Adam Liu

Word To Use Today, Though Possibly Not Out Loud: homage. This word came from Old French in the 1200s, from home, man, from the Latin homo, which also means man. The pronunciation omAHJE seems also to have come from French, but much much later.


  1. Well quite agree with you about JSB but homage in English isn't difficult at all. It's pronounced HOMMIDGE. With the H sounded. Homage in French is only said like that when you're saying some work of art is an 'homage' to another...and you're saying it in French, as it were! I have not been to the Word Den for ages. My bad. About to put that right!

    1. Lovely you've come to play, Adele. I do agree entirely, but must protest that if I went about being so clear-headed all the
      ...well, actually, I can't honestly imagine what it'd be like...possibly something akin to sanity?