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23 September 2011

Autumn By Any Other Name


From the Latin word for the season, autumnus which itself is "o.o.o. -- of obscure origin," per Eric Partridge. Partridge was known for his incredible research into all words English, including slang and bawdy Shakespeare. His work is still respected, and titles are available either reprinted or updated and sold at astronomical prices (e.g., The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (9th ed.) for $245.00 with no discount for bookseller).

We do know that Chaucer first introduced it as a name for the season the English called "Harvest," and I hear the word is still preferred by Brits over "Fall," which etymologists say comes from the "fall of leaves."  "Fall" is preferred by Americans and Canadians (or North Americans, as the Canadians so generously say).  I prefer, "Autumn," although I did like the wordplay of "Fall" as used in "The Four Seasons," the eponymous musical play about the singing group.  The seasons were used as headers for the chapters of the group's lifespan, beginning, of course, with Spring, to denote its verdant start, and Fall, denoting the beginning of the original group's demise.

On the morrow in Downtown Dixon is this year's Scarecrow Festival. This is its 15th year, and Books on First has been in the thick of it, mostly with scarecrows which look like Larry.  This year, he's upside down reading a book and sipping coffee through a straw! 
With the changing of leaves, harvest, pumpkins, cooler weather and scarecrows, how can anyone not like Autumn?

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