Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Words and opinions.

Yesterday I learnt an Italian slang expression for calm down: "Camomilati". Mixture of the actual Italian for calm down, "calmati" and "camomila", the herb used to make a calming infusion. I have to confess that I find camomile tea quite revolting but continental Europeans swear by it. The French give it to colicky babies to settle their stomachs. My stomach, however, is thoroughly upset by this herb. Nonetheless, the Italian expression is very pleasing. 

When you look out and despair of the rain falling down and the river rushing by in spate, just tell yourself, "camomilati", and all will be well! 

Words were clearly in the air yesterday. Later, over a glass of wine, out of nowhere Phil suddenly commented, "Why are people who make hats called milliners?" So, of course, I had to Google it. Back in the 14th century, I discovered, the best hat makers came from Milan. In Middle English people from Milan were called "Miliners". And so today we still have milliners and millinery. with a slight spelling change. 

 This led me to think about haberdashers. Back to Google I went. It's another word of old Middle English origin with a bit of French thrown in. Back in the day, in the late 13th and early 14th centuries, "small goods", caps and ribbons and such, were called "hapertas". Sellers of "small goods" were called haberdashers as a result. And so the name was created. Sometime in the 17th century someone tried to make a verb "to haberdash" but it never caught on. but we still have the haberdashers. 

There you go. 

 There's an American who has visited England and tweeted, I think, his impressions of the country. However it was he put his opinions out there, it all went viral and a friend of mine posted it on Facebook. Here are a few of his opinions and impressions: 

"Everyone is very polite. 
There are no guns. (This was reiterated - several times!) 
Everything is just a little bit different. 
Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms. 
People don't seem to be afraid of their neighbours or the government. 
Refrigerators and washing machines are very small. 
Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare. 
There are hardly any cops or police cars. 
When you do see police they seem to be in males and female pairs and often smiling. (He obviously went to nice safe parts of England! I have friends who view our police in a different light.) 
The reason they drive on the left is because their cars are built backwards. 
Black people are just people, they didn't quite do slavery here. (Hmmm!?) 
Obama is considered a hero. Bush is considered an idiot. 
They eat with their forks upside down. 
It's not unusual to see people dressed different and speaking different languages. 
Everyone knows more about our history than we do."

I could go on and on. His comments say as much about his own country as about ours. 

I just found the whole thing quite fascinating!

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