Don’t Ask Me
“Did you know that inkling is an anagram of linking?” John asked.
“Well, I do now. But prior to you telling me I hadn’t an inkling,” William smiled back. “By the way, do you know what an inkling is?”
For a second John wasn’t sure then said the obvious, “it’s a suspicion or very vague idea isn’t it? You know, as in the sense you’ve just used it. You sounded none too sure of the meaning of the word, you almost made it mean ‘clueless’. What do you think it is?” William stroked his chin,
“Well according to the Oxford English Dictionary it also has a very important element of secrecy about it. According to it’s philological origins it is simply said to be archaic, in the sense that it has never really been clearly defined. But the secrecy bit appears in some literary observations that claim it is something which can only be whispered in a low, soft voice. Some definitions even claim it is indeed what you called it, a ‘clue’. This would naturally be something two conspirators would only whisper, or even infer, to each other. Fascinating, isn’t it?”
John frowned. Yes, I wonder why I brought the question up. I can’t remember. ….Oh, yes. I said it was an anagram of linking. But you know maybe that’s nearer the truth than we thought. I mean, perhaps it was a very quietly murmured word linking two ideas in such a way as to give the unspoken key to a pre-agreed verbal code. This could get interesting, William, if you took it one step further and asked ‘how long has it been in use in English?’ It is so very obviously not Norman or Mediaeval Latin, that the origin is almost certainly Norse or Celtic. Look you’re a historian have you ever seen any eighth or ninth century manuscripts that include the word, or one very like it?”
William shook his head. “No most of the stuff carefully transcribed in that time period was in Latin, so an inkling is something that would have had to be spoken, heard or recorded. Shame, isn’t it. I fear, John, that in our ignorance we are just going to have to settle for accepting a mystery.”
Which is an awful shame because the answer to their dilemma was staring them in the face. An inkling is simply anything which one has not got, or cannot even have. Well they did not have the answer to their question did they? They really didn’t have an inkling, whatever it is.
But they did have something importantly related to the question, to wit $50,000 a year for walking round the ancient quadrangle of their Oxford college daily discussing reams and reams of equally unadulterated rubbish.