Friday, 22 August 2014

names of the waterways under and in London

On I just followed a link to a fascinating article about how many of the rivers and creeks of London got their names. It reminded me how eagerly I'm awaiting the next novel in Ben Aaronovitch's fantasy series. reviews the first novel as lacking believability, but gives it the thumbs-up as a cracking good read in terms of action and interest.

I didn't have any problems with believability, but I'm a frequent reader of urban fantasy, so perhaps I was more ready to sink myself into the plot.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

a clever advertisement

I've been noticing this sign for years, and today I finally got organised to pull over and take a photo of it.

Isn't it clever?

Firstly -  Musica is the Latin word for 'the art of music, or music itself (including poetry).

Secondly -  If you study at this place, I suppose you will get plenty of music.

Thirdly -  It calls to mind the expression aplenty. defines this as either an adjective or an adverb:
adjective in sufficient quantity; in generous amounts (usually following the noun it modifies); He had troubles aplenty.                                                                                                     adverb sufficiently; enough; more than sparingly: He howled aplenty when hurt.
Correctly, the advertisement places the word 'aplenty' after the noun, 'musica'.

And, fourthly, cleverest of all in my opinion, the music school is on Plenty Lower Plenty Road, so you could read it as 'music at Plenty', if you wanted to.
I love to see language used so creatively.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

calf in our leg and calf in a field

Recently, at an exercise class, as the teacher encouraged us to 'stretch our calves', I wondered whether this word is related to the word for a young animal - calf.

Some internet sites say the words are related historically, because the large fleshy back of the human leg can be thought to look like the shape of a young cow or bull. I can't really see this, but maybe our ancestors who lived by cattle herding might have been more attuned to such things.

Of course, I had to experiment. Who wouldn't? So here's a photo of my own calf.

Nope. Doesn't make me think of baby cows. So I tried turning the photo...

Hmmm. I decided to check the dictionary again.
The Online Etymology Dictionary says:
"young cow," Old English cælf (Anglian cælf) "young cow," from Proto-Germanic *kalbam (cognates: Middle Dutch calf, Old Norse kalfr, German Kalb, Gothic kalbo, perhaps from PIE *gelb(h)-, from root *gel- "to swell," hence, "womb, fetus, young of an animal." Elliptical sense of "leather made from the skin of a calf" is from 1727. Used of icebergs that break off from glaciers from 1818. 

The idea of a connection with the root meaning "to swell", might explain the connection, I suppose, since this muscle swells and shrinks as we move our legs.