Friday, 27 February 2009

dog metaphors

I enjoyed reading The Pet Museum’s post about a collection of dog metaphors at

In our household, our dog’s favorite soft toy, a dog, is known as Drover. It’s our play on the well-known expression ‘the drover’s dog.’ Ours is ‘the dog’s Drover’. Okay, it’s a bit weak, but we’re easily amused.

Henry’s Lawson’s famous poem, Ballad of the Drover, is the origin of the expression but it was made famous by Bill Hayden when he was replaced as leader of the ALP on the day Malcolm Fraser called a double dissolution election. Hayden remarked that even a ‘drover’s dog’ could lead the ALP to a win.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

It's been hot lately. Very hot. So I finally had the nerve to go out in public with a parasol. Mine is like an umbrella except the patterned side of the fabric is on the underside and the outside is coated in reflective material. Incidentally, it provides useful protection for a camellia plant if the temperature reaches 111°F - which it did in Melbourne last week.

Lately I have seen people using umbrellas as a protection from the sun. And it seems to me they should be effective sunshades if the name is anything to go by. After all, the word umbrella comes from the Latin umbra, shade.

But to me an umbrella isn't primarily a shade-provider, it's a protection from rain. So I've been wondering why we don't have the same type of word the Germans do - Regenschirm. My possibly not-too-accurate translation is rain- screen. The idea of screening someone from something is echoed in the word Sonnenschirm for parasol. (I reckon that's probably sun -screen.) And then we come to Fallschirm for parachute - fall-screen? Hmm...that seems useful - something to make sure you glide down and don't fall down.

Seeking some information about the word umbrella, I visited Podictionary, where the author, Charles Hodgson, says:
The word came from Italy where it is not notoriously rainy; but rather is more notorious for being sunny. So it makes sense that the Italian meaning of the word ombrella meant “shade.”

The podictionary article is very interesting and you can listen as well as read it.