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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tobias Wolff Says Mike Krukow Isn't Speaking Bad English

Posted By on Wed, Jul 13, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Famed author says broadcaster Mike Krukow need not grab some pine... - JOSEPH SCHELL

Mike Krukow, you have an ally in Tobias Wolff.

Let us explain.

The other day, a reader named Rhonda Chaikin called to vent about the longtime Giants broadcaster and former pitcher. She seemed to be a Kruk fan, save for his persistent use of the word -- or, rather nonword -- "heighth." As in "Aubrey Huff was able to snare that high throw because of his great heighth."

It turns out that "heighth" is the antiquated spelling and pronunciation of height. Yes, it's confusing that "length" and "width" and "breadth" have a -th at the end. But "height" does not. Using a word like "heighth" is akin to breaking out other Chaucer-era variations of the English language.

Or is it? Tobias Wolff says he has no problem with it.

The celebrated author and Stanford professor -- the only English prof actually in his office during office hours, incidentally -- says if Krukow wants to say "heighth," it's okay by him.

"I wouldn't object to it at all," he says. "English is a living language. It's not an archaic or dead language. Only in a dead language do the forms become set in stone, so to speak. Otherwise, things evolve constantly."

So if Kruk -- and most of Southern California, it would seem -- want to say "heighth," well, that's greath.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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