This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Nice names: a rant.

A letter in the Telegraph newspaper* points out that some names given to storms do not do their job, which is of course to sound threatening. It cites as examples Freya, Hannah, Gareth and Barry.

That's quite true, of course, but what can we do about it?

We in Britain have most recently been visited by storm Lorenzo's tail. To me Lorenzo sounds doomed and tragic, but that's because the only Lorenzo I've really come across is the beloved of the heroine in Keats' poem The Pot of Basil (and if you think European Romantic poetry is bland then The Pot of Basil will change your mind for ever (and quite possibly stop you eating basil for ever, as well). Mind you, the original horrid story comes from Boccaccio).

Anyway, the point is that with a few exceptions (Ghengis, Adolf, Medusa, Cruella) we will all have different associations with different names. Perhaps your favourite aunt was called Clytemnestra; perhaps you were once given a sweetie by your kind neighbour Mr Sauron.

Anyway, the obvious remedy is to call storms by names of threatening things and not people at all. Whirlpool. Quicksand. Calamity. Ledge. Catastrophe. Cyclone. Overhang. Disaster. Cliff.


Well, all right, not Cliff.

Perhaps this is harder than I'd thought.

Word To Use Today: cliff. This Old English form of this word was clif. It's not completely unrelated to the word cleave.

*From Kate Forrester of Malvern, Worcestershire, [you say that WUSSterSHEER, the wuss as in, well, wuss] England.

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