Monday, October 24, 2011

Walking through the woods with my younger daughter this evening, the question arose:- What word do Americans use when we Brits use 'autumnal'? Answer appreciated.

Shopping with said daughter this evening, I whiled away some time by checking the Spanish wines on offer. Which was more challenging than expected as the reds were (finally) to be found in the American section and the whites in the South African section. Meaning they didn't - unlike the Italians - even make the Other European section. Which is odd.

It's tough staying with a child of a baby boomer. To say there are no habits of thrift would be a gross understatement. Kettles are overfilled with gay abandon, lights are left on as if we were an integral part of Blackpool Illuminations, and no thought is given to a sensible central heating regime. In short, there's absolutely no evidence of the disciplines drummed into us baby boomers by parents of the austere war and post-war period. Or perhaps I'm the odd one. Whatever, I need to learn to keep my mouth shut and accept it's not my money.

As of tonight, the news is that there might be some slow progress being made at the European summit. Which is a nice intro into a Wall St. Journal article entitled " Why Europe Dithers". As the writer concludes:- Some things change slowly and national culture is one of them. It was never likely the rest of Europe would choose to become more like Germany, or Germany choose to become more like rest of Europe, on a schedule that would allow the euro to work. And that's what we're finding out. Or perhaps we're not and the miracle can be brought off. Let's hope so anyway.

One or two readers have suggested Ricky Gervais might have been misunderstood. So here's the article in which the writer takes issue with what she calls his feeble-minded approach to the furore created by his referring to Down Syndrome kids as 'mongs'.

Finally . . . Some free advice: Avoid staying in places with a cat. If you must do this, don't leave your suitcase open on the floor. Especially not in a place where someone (say, your daughter) has neglected the litter tray for so long, the cat is compelled to find somewhere less unhygienic in which to urinate . . .

Postscript supplied by said daughter just now . . . Pupil's comment on MacBeth:- He leaves his wife out of the plans to kill Banquo and Macduff's family. This makes him roofless and cunning. . . 

12 comments:

jOoLz said...

I live in California, and there isn't really an autumn here. There's wet and dry. But if I were somewhere with four seasons, I'd say autumnal.

kraal said...

Had a good chuckle about your child of a baby boomer. As it's much the same in my house at least I now know my daughter's behaviour is normal, though not to me.

Colin said...

@ k

Many thanks. Good to know I'm not entirely alone.

@ j

Thanks. But do you use the noun 'fall' in CA? Or elsewhere, say NE, where there really are (fantastic)
falls/autumns.

Ferrolano said...

Well Colin, having been born on VE day, I guess that I can claim to be the first ever Baby Boomer and after watching my own children, I can appreciate your observations which can be summed up as “Money (now) grows on trees”

To me, the British “autumn” has always been translated in the USA as “fall”, but for the life of me, I cannot think of a US word being exactly “autumnal” – so, I think that the adjective for “fall” is “fall”. What is interesting is the difference between autumn and fall. Autumn is described as the season after summer and before winter or, as a time of late maturity - a time in the development of something that follows its most vigorous and successful phase, before its decline. Fall however is described simply as the season between summer and winter when leaves change color and fall to the ground.

From that, do we use “autumn” because of a late crop harvest whereas the Americans use “fall” because that is what happens??

What is certainly true and well worth seeing are the colors of the leaves as they turn and fall in the NE of the USA. My first introduction to the USA was in the early 70s and I was told to fly into Montreal and then rent a car to enjoy the drive down through the Adirondacks’ to Schenectady. It was truly magnificent and although I may have long since lost the photographs that I took, my built-in photo album still remembers the views.

Colin said...

Couldn't agree more. I've happily spent more than one fall (or pre-fall, to be more accurate) enjoying the magnificent colours of a NE fall/autumn.

Yep, here's Websters citing fall as adjective

3fall adj

: of, relating to, or suitable for autumn - a new fall coat

Wonder why it doesn't say
of, relating to, or suitable for fall (n) (qv).

"From that, do we use “autumn” because of a late crop harvest whereas the Americans use “fall” because that is what happens?? "

Intriguing question. Would like to have a US definitive view . . . Is 'autumn' used anywhere in addition to 'fall' to differentiate the (sub)seasons?

Candide said...

Falllike keeps popping up. Or Indian summer (-ish, for adjective, but I'm making that up).

Mike the Traditionalist said...

Fall is used when talking about seasons but autumn can be used when talking about leaves and flowers. Autumn leaves and autumn flowers rings better than fall leaves etc.

Midnight Golfer said...

I've long since realized my family's way of speaking is in no way indicative of typical American vocabulary, but I grew up interchanging both autumn and fall, and using them each as noun and adjective, with fall being used far more often at school, and autumn at home. Autumnal never made it, sadly, into my vocabulary, (until now.) Just autumn.

¿Why doesn't everyone visit Spain in October? It is far and away the best month, for any part of the country. Gorgeous.

Colin said...

My nomination would be September. October can be grey/wet in Galicia. Bu, then, occasionally August is as well!

Perry said...

Autumn as a word for the season came into common usage about the same time as Fall did. The English who settled the eastern American seaboard brought the word Fall with them from the homeland. The English who stayed home eventually adopted the word Autumn.

Nowadays in England “Fall” sounds archaic and poetic, but in U.S. English “Autumn” has those connotations.

Colin said...

Thanks, Perry.

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