This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 5 January 2015

11th day of Christmas: pipers piping. Spot the Frippet.

It probably all started with a bone.

I don't know if this bone was already picked clean by small rodents, or whether it was a left-over from a barbecue, but it may have been a wing-bone of a vulture.

Whatever it was, someone picked it up and began playing with it. They may poked their next-door neighbour in the ribs with it to begin with, and then, when that threatened to provoke a violent retaliation, perhaps they used it to stir the dust into swirls.

And then, perhaps, they realised that they had a bit of mammoth meat wedged between their molars, and so they put the bone into the mouths to try to winkle the stuff out.

The trouble is that a bone is too thick to get between your teeth, and, as they heaved a sigh of frustration, they found themselves also producing an odd squawking sound.

Now, I don't know what manners were like amongst humans 35,000 years ago when this was happening, but as humans were humans, I should imagine this squawk was met with quite a bit of amusement, some insults, and quite possibly some nose-holding.

And of course the person with the bone would have protested his innocence, and made several attempts at reproducing the squawk form the bone to prove it.

And, eventually, he would have succeeded.

Aurignacian flute made from an animal bone

And from this incident came all the flutes, oboes, saxophones and recorders that delight and torture us today - though on the whole it's still a good idea not to send your true love even one single piper piping, let alone eleven.

Spot the frippet: pipe. How easy is this? Drain pipe, water pipe, windpipe...the word comes from the Old English pīpe, from the Latin pīpāre, to chirp. 

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