Home » Forum » Story Discussion and Feedback

Forum: Story Discussion and Feedback

Hark, Harken or Hearkens?

Crumbly Writer

Run across this, and wondered which the local SOL authors use, if they ever use the term that is.

According to the Grammarist, the correct use is always "hark back" (3 times as common), but the three terms are considered acceptable synonyms, and which is used hardly matters since there no chance of confusing the meaning.

Does anyone have a preference, or does anyone consider one to sound better than the other for some reason?

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

SOL authors use


Never have. Never will.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


Never have. Never will.


Ah! That old refrain harkens back (harks back?) to my childhood, where my boyhood friends insisted they'd never kiss a girl, girls insisted they'd never touch a toad, and parents and teachers insisted you should NEVER play with yourself. Luckily, their protests were all meaningless hyperbole.

richardshagrin

Hark, the Herald Angels sing...
Is the one I remember hearing, in the Christmas Carol. I suppose there might be dialog where "Harken" might work, but it isn't current English as far as I know. I have never heard "Hearkens". The only way it might work if more than one Ken were talking and a character would hear Kens. Web search indicates it appears in the Bible.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Uther_Pendragon

@Crumbly Writer

I don't think I've ever used it.

It seems to me that, if you harken, he harkens.

Where the extra e comes from, I don't know.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

I have never heard "Hearkens".


I have, though without the first e. I've heard it in the form of something on the order of "it harkens back to the good old days".

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/harkens+back+to

BlacKnight

All forms are archaic, and basically don't exist outside that one Christmas carol and the phrase "hearken back to", so I don't think you can really say that any particular form of it should be preferred. The preferred form of "hearken" in Present-Day English is "listen".

I don't think I've ever used any of them in my writing, nor do I anticipate ever having any need to do so.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Uther_Pendragon

Where the extra e comes from, I don't know.

I suspect, but don't actually know, that "harken" is the American version of the archaic usage, while "hearken" is the British version of the same. But again, that's just an off-the-cuff guess, as I couldn't find any clear distinctions between one spelling and the other.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@BlacKnight


I don't think I've ever used any of them in my writing, nor do I anticipate ever having any need to do so.


I had to research it, because I was adding it to a sentence, and wanted to look it up first. Of course, that only one usage in 16 stories totaling well over 2 millions words.

Update: Figured someone would ask, so here's the line from a correction to my currently posting story, Lost With Nothing to Lose:

The doorway darkened long before the hiss of air harkened the pressure equalization between the two ships.


Also, according to Dictionary.com, "harken" is the spelling for the noun, while "hearken" is the spelling for the verb. but generally, the American spelling "harken" is truer to it's etymological roots, while the British "hearken" appears to have been modified to conform to the spelling of "hear" (which is the basis of the word).

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The doorway darkened long before the hiss of air harkened the pressure equalization between the two ships.


I have no idea what that means. I wonder how many readers would.

BlacKnight
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Update: Figured someone would ask, so here's the line from a correction to my currently posting story, Lost With Nothing to Lose:

The doorway darkened long before the hiss of air harkened the pressure equalization between the two ships.


That's... not right. "Harken" means "listen" or "pay attention to", and makes no sense in that context. I think the word you're looking for may be "heralded".

Also, according to Dictionary.com, "harken" is the spelling for the noun, while "hearken" is the spelling for the verb. but generally, the American spelling "harken" is truer to it's etymological roots, while the British "hearken" appears to have been modified to conform to the spelling of "hear" (which is the basis of the word).


"Hearken" comes from Old English heorcnian, "listen", which was related to, but distinct from, hieran, "hear". English underwent a major vowel shift in the meantime, but "hearken" is closer to the original than "harken".

Also, my browser's spellchecker is fine with "hark" and "hearken", but doesn't like "harken". Not that that means much; its dictionary has some weird holes in it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

"Hearken" comes from Old English heorcnian, "listen", which was related to, but distinct from, hieran, "hear". English underwent a major vowel shift in the meantime, but "hearken" is closer to the original than "harken".

I understand the entomology of the word, as that's why the American version is 'truer' to the words history. The idea is that the British, for some unknown reason, decided that since "harken" means to "listen", then it must be spelled "hearken" (consistent with "hear" instead of "hark"). However, I couldn't find any official validation of that claim.

That's... not right. "Harken" means "listen" or "pay attention to", and makes no sense in that context. I think the word you're looking for may be "heralded".

You're right. I didn't notice that when I was composing it. It would be better with "announce" rather than either "harken", "heralded" or even "Herold". 'D

Back to Top