Thursday, 2 January 2014

What links a book’s appendix to the biological appendix?

Perhaps one of the most obscure links in English is why something that comes at the end of a book is named after something in the human body. And which was named first?

How useful is an appendix? The answer will rely on which appendix you are referring to. The oldest definition dates back to the 1540s and related to the material added at the end of a book. ‘Appendix’ comes from the Latin ‘appendere’ meaning ‘to hang from something, to append’. Interestingly, a necklace pendant shares the same etymology.

Over time, appendix was used in anatomy to refer to the outgrowths of internal organs, especially applicable to the small organ which we call the appendix today. This organ has no known use, but it may have played a role in aiding digestion for our ancestors. Now we pay no attention to it, unless it becomes inflamed and we need an appendectomy.
Chances are you’d miss material at the end of a book more so than you’d miss a useless organ in your body. But what links both senses of appendix together is the notion they hang off the end of something.

Dialect words for the Weather

Happy new year to all of you!

The weather is always a talking point for the British it seems, and we haven’t had a shortage of things to talk about recently. But whereas words such as ‘rain’, ‘sun’, ‘hot’ and ‘windy’ are universal and perhaps quite boring, there are also some interesting regional words which are used to describe the weather. So I thought I would write a blog post about some of these.
You may hear a Scot or an American talk about the weather being ‘airish’ which means cool, fresh,  and breezy.

You may also hear a Scot use ‘dreich’ meaning the weather is bleak or dreary.
A pretty sounding word is ‘letty’. In Somerset it is used when the weather makes outdoor work difficult, probably due to the rain.

‘Maumy’ describes humid weather and is used mainly around the Scottish-English border.
I love ‘mizzle’ to describe drizzle (‘it’s mizzly today’).

Scottish and Irish-English has introduced ‘mochy’ which describes weather that’s damp, misty and muggy.
Some of my tweeters who live in or around Lincoln may have heard of ‘mothery’ which describes damp and drizzly weather.

And finally ‘smirr’ which is also a Scottish dialect word which means drizzle or fine rain.
Maybe you have dialect words for the weather of your own?