This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 9 October 2017

Spot the Frippet: onion.

In the early days of online translation I once asked a computer to turn a review from the Korean language into English.

One phrase I shall always remember, so pregnant was it with luminous meaning. It talked of the green onion of the orchestra.

The green onion of the orchestra...I  still feel there is some great burgeoning revelation to be had, there, somewhere, if only I knew what it was.

Spotting an onion is easy, whether it's green, brown, white, pink or red (and especially if it's in an orchestra). Onions are at the heart of so many soups, stews, pies and curries. You can even make an onion cake.

If you live in Eastern Europe then you are likely to see onion domes on top of church towers:

File:Onion domes of Cathedral of the Annunciation.JPG
Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Kremlin, Moscow. Photo by Petar Milošević

and if you still have a typewriter then you might well use onion skin paper for your carbon copies. Even if you don't have a typewriter, you may use onion skin paper for origami or calligraphy or tracing. It doesn't contain any onions (it does have some cotton content, though) but it has the same translucent look and crackly feel under the fingers as an onion's skin.

If all else fails, consult an expert in something or other. He or she is bound to know his onions.*

Spot the Frippet: onion. This word comes from the Old French oignon, from the Latin unio. It's related to our word union, which comes from the Latin ūnus, one. The idea is that all the layers enclose one heart, unlike garlic, say, which has many cloves.


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