’21 A To Z Challenge – Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sugar and spice, and everything nice
That’s what little girls are made of.

Snakes and snails, and puppy-dog tails
That’s what little boys are made of.

Folks – some of them smart and educated – used to think that people, and the Universe, were made of some strange things.  They thought that all things were made up of four ‘Elements.’  Not elements like carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, but the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  You can build a fire, but I don’t know how even God could build anything except panic and destruction, from fire.

Having been constructed of the four ‘Elements,’ the human body then somehow related to them with the four humors of Black bile, Blood, Yellow bile, and Phlegm.  Our ancestors seemed to be a dour lot, not having any room for silly, playful, happy, or even Woke.

Four Humors – And there’s the humor of it: Shakespeare and the four humors (nih.gov)

Black bile – Earth – melancholic
Blood – Air – sanguine
Yellow bile – Fire – choleric
Phlegm – Water – phlegmatic

The four humors somehow worked the body through hot, cold, moist, and dry, but in hot/moist, hot/dry, cold/moist, and cold/dry combinations.

The four Humors were also known as the Four Essences, which, at long last, brings us to today’s word.

QUINTESSENTIAL

Having decided that only four Essences comprised and controlled the human existence and behavior, they realized that there were actually times and situations where a Fifth (Latin – quinta) Essence was present, or required – that indefinable, indescribable property that made a genius, a genius, or a great leader, a great leader.

Today’s archaic word was brought to you with a smile, by toast and crab-apple jelly.  Wednesday’s post will use more modern words to complain about how “Black Friday” isn’t really over, but like a zombie, keeps lurching onward as Black Friday Weekend, and Black Friday Week sales.  Then I’ll really get into character by ranting about all-Christmas carols, all the time, from now till the 25th.  😉

WOW #55

CCI_000010

Here’s a word only my Grandmother would have used. Actually, she was too much of a stern, proper old lady to ever allow herself to be in a position to use the word

AMBUSCADE

an ambush.
to lie in ambush.
to attack from a concealed position; ambush.

Middle French emboscade < Old Italian imboscata,

When English riffled the pockets of other languages for words, sometimes the ears and mouth worked, but the eyes were busy elsewhere. Often, foreign words were inducted into English like a Manhattan – with a twist.

Manhattan

English is Larry The Cable Guy’s “Git ‘er done” language. It don’t have no time for all them extra little syllables. The Spanish ‘La Riata’ (something to retie with) becomes simply lariat, in English.

The word petty came from Old French petit, small, minor. So a Naval Petty Officer is not mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things, but rather of secondary rank, especially in relation to others of the same class or kind.

What was subtile (soob-teel) in French, somehow became subtle (suttle) in English. Check (a means of verification) went from English to Middle French, to become cheque, and then back. The German word pflug, became an English plough. Wisely, American English has made each of them (back) into check, and plow. In French, fait simply means, ‘made, completed, or done.’ When it got to England, it became quite a feat.

Elvis Presley’s birthplace, Tupelo Mississippi, is named for a local tree. I thought that it was Spanish. You don’t even want to know how it got into English, from the Creek Indian word, ito opilwa.

WOW #42

abyss

I gazed into the abyss Rochelle’s weekly photo prompt, and the abyss stared back. I couldn’t get Frederick Nietzsche to help me with a Flash Fiction, so this week’s back-patting, ego-driven Word Of the Week is the all-about-me

Linguaphile

a language and word lover.
Origin of Linguaphile
Linguist has existed in English since the 16th century. It means “one who is adept at learning and using foreign languages; one who is a student of language or linguistics; a translator or interpreter.” Linguaphile has a somewhat different meaning: “one who loves words or languages.” The originally Greek suffix -phile (“lover of”) is completely naturalized in English.

I thought a Linguaphile might be something that smoothed my speech out.  My son doesn’t understand my fascination with foreign names.  They can tell me where someone, or their ancestors, came from.  I’ve studied the origin and meaning of many English names.  While some of them are – interesting, some foreign names just have me shaking my head.

A candidate in a recent, local election was named Estoesta.  I quickly determined that this was a Portuguese name.  From my limited knowledge of Romance languages, I thought that it might mean East/West, perhaps originating when Portuguese sailors reached Malaysia.  Google Translate told me that it actually just means ‘this is.’  😕

 A young Spanish-Canadian co-worker was named Soto.  I asked him the meaning of it one day, but he said he didn’t know, and would have to ask his father.  He might forget or ignore, so I looked it up that evening.  The next day, I told him that it translated to a copse, a thicket, or a brake.  “No, No!” he replied, “My Dad says that it’s a bunch of trees.”  The worker from Newfoundland, who many thought could barely write his own name, piped up.  “What does he think a copse, a brake or a thicket is?”

A recent obituary was for another Portuguese, Eric Armand Cyril Cecil D’Silva.   I suspect that his mother was of English heritage.  While Eric and Armand may be Portuguese given names, Cyril and Cecil are very British.  My English-heritage Father was Cyril, and his half-brother was Cecil.  The word Silva is not the same as Sylva, and has nothing to do with trees.  Instead, it means hiss, whistle, swish, fizz.  How would you like to be named after a leaky steam-pipe?  😳

The four German names, Hefner, Heffner, Hafner and Haffner all come from Hőffner Originally, hoff meant wish or hope.  Medieval travelers often wished or hoped for a country inn, where they could rest and get warmth and food, so hoff came to mean an inn.  A Hőffner was an innkeeper.  Hugh Hefner sold Playboy magazines.  A local car dealership is Heffner Lexus/Toyota.  A small town, 15 miles out, has Haffner Motors, a Chrysler dealership.   This explains the annual Labor Day MoparFest, where dozens of 1970s Hemi-powered muscle cars from all over Southern Ontario show up.

Lastly, I want to talk about big fish in little ponds.  In Germany, if your ancestors came from the small town of Vetter, they might have adopted, or had that name assigned to them.  However, if your forebears owned the village of Vetter, an honorific von, meaning of or from, was prefixed, to indicate minor nobility, and your family name became von Vetter.  The same thing occurred in Dutch or Belgian, with the prefix van.

The equivalent word in French, is guy, although the last name of the French short-story writer, Guy de Maupassant, means something like hard luck, or tough times.  While not a hereditary name, English has the same concept in the honorary title, Squire.  This is the highest that a non-Nobility family may rise.  While the Earl may possess all the surrounding fields and pastures and woods, as his administrator, the Squire owns the land that the village or town sits on, and collects rent and respect from every business and home.

Come back again later when I discuss Lingua Franca, which is how to order a hot-dog from a street vendor food cart.  😉

Flash Fiction #163

Preserves

PHOTO PROMPT © Jean L. Hays

Lord, it’d been five years, and she still missed her Grandma.  She had loved Grandma, and Grandma had loved her, and all the other grandkids. 

Grandma’s love had seemed to be wrapped in food – homemade candy and cookies, turkey and stuffing and gravy – all the good stuff.  These were the last of her carefully rationed jars of Grandma’s dill pickles.  If only she’d thought to get Grandma to teach her how to make them.

She could buy pickles at the store, but none tasted as good, and certainly none of them held the care and love that Grandma put in.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction Redux

I am taking advantage of our Fairy Blogmother, Rochelle’s kind offer of a respite from composing Flash Fictions.  Hopefully, some of you missed this one the first time.

Fishing boat

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Georgia Koch

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared. Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea. One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Flash Fiction #35

Fishing boat

 

 

 

 

 

Walking On Water

Mischa had made his living fishing this little inland sea all his life, and his ancestors had done so for untold generations, back into the mists of time.

First the water had got thick, and saltier, then the fish had all but disappeared.  Now it was the sea itself which was disappearing.  The little cottage where his parents had raised him was now half a kilometer from the new shoreline.  His fishing boat sat stranded on the mud flats.

He recently met a group of outsiders, “scientists”, studying the Aral Sea.  One had taught him a new term – Global Warming.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and used the Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.