Monday, August 31, 2009


The word is inescapable, if you are watching a cricket match. Me and my roomies were watching the Ashes series live on TV and suddenly an uproar from the almost calm fielding side broke through the air... "HOWZZAT!!!"

Its a word of appeal thats synonymous with the cricket world. The word that brings the game and the spectators to a brief, anxious halt! And when it is a nail-biting scenario, the word kicks up emotions more than just anxiety. But observing the word from a linguistic focus, it seems incomprehensible to word-intensive person like me. The word "HOWZZAT', actually a shorter form of "How's that?" would in a worldly sense of proper usage would invite replies like "that's good", "awesome", "hmm..not bad", "good work", etc. But instead, umpires don't waste their energy replying to such appeals asking for praise!! They just raise their finger or just nod the head sideways.

Moreover, just imagine a scenario where someone comes to you and asks you "How's that?".. And you turn in some other direction, raise both your hands and point finger to sketch a picture of a square in the air. Doesn't it look funny? But thats what umpires do on the field to refer to the third umpire!

I can't imagine what would happen to me if I was made to stand behind the stumps and judge the game! I would probably reply, "Oh! That's a great piece of bowling" to an LBW appeal. I can't imagine the brickbats from a team of 11 on the field!

That was just a passing thought then, but I later tried to google the origin of the phrase/word "Howzzat" in cricket, but I couldn't find any references. Maybe any of you cricket devotees could help me out. Just for etymological curiosity!