This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Monday, 1 August 2011

Spot the frippet: garden.

It's much easier to spot a garden in England than in America - or so I understand.

You see, in England there are gardens everywhere, though most of them are small, and some of them are tiny.

Really tiny.

An English garden may be less than three feet from front to back.

In America it seems that these small areas are called yards, which is confusing because an English yard is an area of bare concrete (probably) with no plants, nowhere to sit, and a heap of junk in the corner.

In England, saying would you like to come and see our yard? is about as likely as saying would you like to come and see our dustbins?*

Look deeper, though, and it all comes together. The word garden is from the Old French gardin, which is related to the Old Norse garthr. And garthr is not only the ancestor of the word garden, but of the word yard, as well. 
More relations include the Old Slavonic word gradu, which means town or castle, and the Albanian garth, house.

Still, whatever you call them, yards or gardens, each one, as TE Brown told us, is a lovesome thing. And also, as Keats almost told us, a thing of beauty and a job forever.

Spot the frippet: garden. While I'm here, a gardenia is named after the American botanist Dr Alexander Garden, 1730 - 1791.

Well, I suppose he had to be a botanist with a name like that.

*Garbage cans!

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