Yes, a bit of ekker would be lekker.

I’m a bit of a trekker, but best on a good brekker. I don’t play soccer. Can’t afford a chukker – but you might as well ride an ekka! I’ll take shank’s mare. Kick up the Sauconys. Excellent for eking one’s existence. And you can explore the local ekistics.

So kick, kick, bend the knees k k. It’s e’s e once you get into it. Break free of your restraints.

What am I talking about? Some kind of gymkhana? Could be, or anything gymnastic, take your pick. Just exercise your options, as long as your option is exercise. No trickery, no cookery. Keep correct; there’s no double-checker.

Latin arcere meant “restrain, shut up”. The prefix ex means many things: “out of” for one; “forth” for another. Put them together and we got exercere. Put that into English and we got exercise. Put that into the mouths of Oxonian toffs and we got ekker – a jaunty cutting down to size (and excising of cise) that breaks phonologically (between syllables, /k/ from /s/) and not morphologically (after the x).

Such er words were popular enough: brekker for breakfast, soccer for association football (yes, that one is a bit of torture in the derivation). It works here: at the echo of the starter’s pistol, you’re off and running. The word is just quicker. And the er ending, like the s ending (and a fortiori the ers ending, as in champers for champagne), has a certain moneyed air to it, unlike the infra dig a and o endings popular with the tabloid press (Macca, Gazza, Jacko).

It matters little or not at all that it sounds, in that British accent, about like ekka, which is a small one-horsed vehicle (in India), though it may gain some flavour from chukker, also chukka, a period in a game of polo. Other eks – such as Hindi “one” and Afrikaans “I” – don’t come into play. Nor, except for those who know Afrikaans or Dutch, does lekker – “good” or “enjoyable” in Afrikaans and “good-tasting” in Dutch – though a good bit of ekker certainly is lekker. And ekistics – a name for the science of human settlements – is something I’d like to work in more, but you may or may not be aware of it when you work out.

But of course now you know all that, and when you go for a bit of ekker it will all rise from the soil of your mind like petrichor after a rain shower. Which, by the way, is pleasing to get a bit of ekker in.

One response to “ekker

  1. You mention “a certain moneyed air” for the “-er” suffix; I suggest that it has more of an “upper class air” (members of that class are often far from moneyed, i.e., on their uppers) — after all, it is known as “the Oxford -er” (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_%22-er%22). It probably gave also rise to the classless -a suffix (after all, in BritEnglish, “Bazza” and “Bazzer” (for “Barry”) sound identical.) Often, the “Oxford -er” is preceded by the (intensifying?) adjective “Harry,” as in “Harry Clampers” (foul weather) and “Harry Shiters” (blind drunk). For the possible origins of “Harry”, see
    http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-346622.html. (Maybe there was a subconscious influence on J.K. Rowling?) I clearly remember hearing, in my youth in England, the euphemism “Harry Preggers,” used in female company for “pregnant” which word was, in that company, frowned on.

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