Unsavoury weather?

When the weather contradicts what the season should dictate — for example, by delivering Summer-like warmth on an April day (unexpected in either hemisphere) — we say the weather is “unseasonably warm”.

When savoury food isn’t salt-and-peppery enough, we say it’s unseasoned (and probably unsavoury).

So why “unseasonably warm”?

Hint: it’s not because we can’t improve the weather with salt and pepper.

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The OED lists season (n.) as “any one of the periods, longer or shorter, into which the year is naturally divided by the earth’s changing position in regard to the sun” (and so on). That’s all based on an early version of the verb to sow (thus “sowing time” , from Latin and Vulgar Latin via Old French and Middle English, with variations in Modern French, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian). Humans have been talking about seasons since about 1340.

The concept of seasoning (v.) — “to render more palatable by the addition of some savoury ingredient” — turned up in around 1400, and is based on the same Old French concept: we leave fruit to ripen fully with the seasons, becoming as delicious as possible before we devour it or bake it into a pie.*

So unseasonal weather makes sense to me. But why unseasonable and unseasonably? Unable to be seasoned?

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The construction is literally just season + the able suffix.

Season+able (adj.) means “occuring at the right time or season”.*

Season+ably (adv.) means “in a fitting time; at the right moment; in due season”.

But if you ask me, the real answer comes back to a noun: seasonableness.

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 8.19.30 PM

So if something is unseasonable it’s unsuitable or unreasonable.

When I comfortably wear a sundress in April — or am forced to wear a woollen scarf in December** — I do so because of weather that is unreasonably warm or cold (within the context of the season). I am unable to provide a reason for such inexplicable weather …Except to say that we should consume less, recycle more, and look for alternative sources of low-impact, renewable, sustainable energy.

And all this still has very little to do with salt and pepper, other than the fact that a cold day in Summer is generally thought to be unsavoury.

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As opposed to seasonal (adj.), which means “depending on or happening with the seasons”. In Japan, cherry blossoms appear seasonally; if they flowered all through the year they would be unseasonal — unrelated to or unaffected by the prevailing season. Which means you could talk about an “unseasonally warm day” and still technically be correct, but you lose the element of unreasonableness and incongruity.

** That one is hemisphere-specific.

 

Lost in Translation: The USA/Canada > “Australian” edition


This year, the closest I’ve been to snow (my love) is two weeks lounging around with the air conditioning turned down cold, watching The Winterlympics*… and the wearing of snowflake-shaped earrings.

But this time last year, I had just returned from a North American winter: a month stomping/skiing around Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) and Banff (Alberta, Canada) wearing three layers of everything, watching icicles form on my hair, and laughing at the peculiar linguistic variations between Australian English, Canadian English, and American English.

 

( The image quality is terrible, but this sign was outside the house we lived in for two weeks just outside Salt Lake City. It reads “No Solicitors or Deliverie’s”. I shrieked at this abomination every day.).

The following is the blog entry that I drafted upon my return, but quickly found was no longer relevant. UNTIL NOW.


Eh?

Eh? (Canada)

Innit? (UK)

N’est-ce pas? (French)

Huh? (Youth)

Whut? (Web)


For sure!

For sure! (Canada)

No worries! (Aus)

Of course! (Everywhere else)

Yup! (Youth)


Goobers

Chocolate-coated peanuts. I can’t believe I never knew this. I mean, I’ve watched American TV my entire life, AND I love chocolate-coated peanuts. But here, a ‘goober’ is, well, snot.

{ image via The Chocolate Cult }

 

 

Grāpple®

Grape-flavoured apple. “Looks like an apple, tastes like a grape”. SO WRONG, and yet so right.

Apparently invented because kids ought to eat apples, but prefer the taste of grapes. Or grape-flavoured candy in this case.

Which is ridiculous.

When I was a child, we didn’t get to make orange-flavoured bananas, just because we liked oranges better. Know what we did if we liked oranges? WE ATE ORANGES!

Anyway, the grāppling process involves some difficult-to-pin-down method of drenching the apples in grape flavouring at some point in the ‘production’ process.

And apparently, the “ā” means that it’s pronounced GRAPE-L, not “grapple” (as in to manhandle/tussle). Know what? That didn’t stop me from saying “grapple”. Nor was I sufficiently perturbed by the outright absurdity of the whole idea to just put down the Grāpple and walk away. I should have been, but I couldn’t resist. Why? Because I like apples (okay, just the way they are), and I also like grape-flavoured candy. {image via Coolest Gadgets }


Loonies & Twonies/Toonies

 

Canadian one dollar and two dollar coin (not children’s cartoon characters). No point talking about “one dollar coin” and “two dollar coin” in Canada: no-one will know what you’re talking about.

The one-dollar “loonie” is so called because it bears the image of a loonie bird. The two dollar coin is worth two loonies, and so, by logical extrapolation, is called a “twonie” (pronounced toonie).

But of course!

{image via Filibuster Cartoons }


Nonpareils


Sprinkles. Hundreds-and-thousands. What makes a
chocolate freckle freckly.

The fact that they’re “nonpareils” in Canada is obviously a remnant of French colonial (candy) domination.

I still don’t understand what being unequalled has to do with it (and I think Wikipedia’s explanation that they were unrivalled as cake decorations is a pretty poor effort on the etymology front).

{ Image via Flickriver }


Poutine

 

French fries covered with gravy and cheese curds.

Words can’t express how truly repulsive this looks/is, so I’ll hand over to Google Images.


{via the Calgary Poutine Crawl 2013 }

*barf*

And I’ll also leave it to Wikipedia to explain that etymologically, Poutine has a closer relation to “pudding” (ie: a whole lot of everything) than it does to the French expletive (though given Canada’s semi-Francophilia, the latter would also make some sense). Traditional pub grub, ski-field fuel, late-night booze food, school’s-out snack, etc. Like kebabs in Australia, only… more disgusting.


Puck Bunnies

Like groupies, but for ice hockey players instead of rock band members. [On Monday morning, I nearly FELL OFF MY CHAIR with excitement during the gold medal ice hockey match. And by chair, I mean perfectly stable and impossible-to-fall-off sofa. THAT IS HOW EXCITED I WAS. In the absence of ice hockey within a tangible geographic radius, this makes me a vicarious puck bunny (minus all the negative innuendo).]
{ image via Linda Mac }


Rumble strips

What my sister and I grew up calling “fart lines”. The noisy, corrugated part of the road that stops sleepy drivers from veering into oncoming traffic/into a snow drift when the road markings are invisible and/or one has been driving forever and ever and ever.

{ image via Local 4 Traffic }


Tuque

Beanie (Aus)

Knitted cap (UK)

 

 

A tuque is, for Aussies, a beanie. A brimless, knitted head covering. And yes, it shares a common etymological ancestor with the chef’s toque, though one might get a bit warm wearing a tuque in the kitchen.

Controversially pronounced “toock” [ike the “two” in “twonie” (see above). The pronunciation is only controversial because one can get 5 different opinions in 5 minutes, if you ask around].

{ in the above image of Jay and Silent Bob, Jay is wearing a tuque. Silent Bob is not. }


Turbinado Sugar

The word ‘turbinado’ is, in my mind, a portmanteau of turbine and tornado.

Cyclonic sugar? To me, this is the way sugar ‘normally’ comes. That is, in Australia, “raw sugar” is the norm, and you’d have to do actual research to find out much about the manufacturing process. But in the US and Canada, white sugar is “normal”, and so it’s deemed necessary to explain turbinado sugar in explicit detail, right there on the packet.

Turbinado sugar, also known as turbinated sugar, is made from sugar cane extract. It is produced by crushing freshly cut sugar cane; the juice obtained is evaporated by heat, then crystallized. The crystals are spun in a centrifuge, or turbine (thus the name), to remove excess moisture and molasses, resulting in the characteristic large, light brown crystals

Yes, if you check the footnotes in the above-quoted Wikipedia article, that description can be found on the packaging for Trader Joe’s Turbinado Sugar. Which is rather incongruous with the vast amount of packaged ‘food’ one can buy in North America without knowing exactly what’s going on inside the packaging.

And in true toonie… er, twonie spirit, that’s all, folks! At least until the next snowventure (which is so far in the hypothetical future I think I’d be better off just wearing my ski boots into the frozen foods aisle at the supermarket).


* My nominations for the greatest <alt=”most insane”> Olympic sports? Skeleton, Ski Cross, and Ice Hockey.

Wallflower Words: Koan (n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Koan (n.)

Huh? In Zen Buddhist theory and study, a koan is a paradox proposed for the purpose of confounding the mind into an unthinking stupor, whereupon the stupefied mind becomes so stupefied as to enter a whole new level of conscious, awakened thought.

As in?


{ via Yahoo Answers }


And? Well, at 3.28 on a Tuesday afternoon we could all do with more mental stimulation, lest we be trapped forever in The Long, Dark Tea-Time of The Soul.

We might also like to remember that there is a moral to every story.

We might ALSO like to remember that animated introspective thought might never produce a finite answer.

And I need a name for that process of suddenly realising the answer to 14-down in the cryptic crossword a full 5 hours after I began puzzling over the clue.

See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)
Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)
Wallflower Words: Vitriol (n.)

Quark and Antiquark

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>> REPORT: LARGE HADRON COLLIDER PRODUCING TONS OF AWESOME COLLISIONS




NOW:
Though still operating at low gear dawdling speed, everyone’s favourite particle collider has produced PLENTY <alt=”unexpectedly high numbers“> of mesons*, Thank You Very Much.



THEN> The LHC will run at half power — you know, only 3.5 trillion electron volts [TeV] or so — until 2013.


LATER>> Full speed ahead!


In the mean time, amuse yourself over at xkcd. (As if anyone ever needed an incentive.)


*In case you couldn’t be bothered with the link (but could be bothered with post-scripted footnotes?) a meson = a quark + an antiquark. Yes, I know. I did just link another link. But it was under pressure of absolute necessity, for I certainly do not possess the intellectual faculties to explain said topic myself. Wikipedia, on the other hand, is the font of all knowledge… though admittedly, Uncyclopedia might be more fun:

The Large Hadron Collider, also known as the DESTROYER OF WORLDS, is the largest particle accelerator ever built by humans. It has not destroyed the world yet. [1] When activated, it will accelerate protons to almost the speed of light, before colliding them at precisely 13.5 billion kerjigatrons. It may also dim the lights all over Western Europe, and possibly will cause human hair to stand up on end as far distant as Sweden. Hailed by some as Earth’s own Death Star, the LHC is a milestone in human technology as it is capable of both explaining the universe and blowing it to Hell, unless James Bond reaches the control room just in time to avert it.

“Colliding hadrons is the greatest pleasure one can experience while fully clothed.” ~ Oscar Wilde on the LHC


DEFINITELY RELATED:

Large Hadron Collider now actually colliding protons!

The language of deep space

LHC too cool/broken for its own good; helium-based hilarity ensues

Star-maker Machinery

Earth still here?… Yup!

To Hell in  Hadron Collider?

Wallflower Words: Vitriol (n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Vitriol (n.)

Huh? Originally, referred to sulphates of metals in general (iron vitriol, copper vitriol, sulphur vitriol &c.). Subsequently, ‘vitriol’ became a specifically synonymous term for sulphuric acid (aka. Oil of Vitriol). Hence, ‘vitriol’ in its currently popular role, as an apt reference to bitterly abusive language or vituperation: nothing short of spitting, spiteful, acerbic, acidic ire.

As in? Give it a little bit of vitriol!


And? ‘Vitriolic’ has a nice Sherlockian ring to it. AND it is formed naturally in the upper atmospheres of Venus and Europa, which I consider to be a particularly cool triviality. AND, Bluejuice played at Big Day Out on the 23rd! AND they were awesome. As in… they were all dressed like Quentin Tarantino’s The Bride! (aka. Beatrix Kiddo; aka. Black Mamba; aka. Mommy)


{ via Entertainment Weekly }

Now THERE’S a woman with vitriol!

See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)
Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)

Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.


The Word: Quantise (v.)

[or Quantize (v.), depending on your hemisphere]


Huh? To divide into discrete units or into the smallest possible component parts; to express in terms of quanta.

As in? Solace, quantised. Not really. More like “Could you kindly quantise how many times you have rewatched Quantum of Solace?”. [I could not]. Or “Please quantise the expression on your face while listening to The xx on new birthday earphones”.


Again, I shurely could not.

And? Well, it just sounds cooler than ‘quantify’, despite being more or less synonymous. Note to self: preference ‘quantise’ whenever possible. Especially when describing nerdy, spacey, technobabble [<alt=”cool”>]stuff.


See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)

Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Saturnine (a./n.)

Huh? Influenced by Saturn. Contaminated with lead [the effect of lead poisoning may also known as Saturnia] and therefore leaden. Hence the quality of having a heavy, slow, dull, sullen and depressed demeanour.

As in? January Astrology.  Saturn takes 29.5 YEARS to orbit the sun, as opposed to our 365 DAYS. Saturn is the ruling planet of Capricorn (implying that we January babies are goatishly stubborn).

“Astrologically, Saturn is associated with the principles of limitation, restrictions, boundaries, practicality and reality, crystallizing and structures… Saturn is also considered to represent the part of a person concerned with long-term planning… According to the first-century poet Manilius, Saturn is sad, morose, and cold and is the greater malefic… Saturn symbolized processes and things which were dry and extremely cold, and, therefore, inimical to life. It governed the melancholic humor… Saturn being the planet of mortality, and hence, why the Grim Reaper carries a scythe).”

Wikipedia

Also: In bodily (sort of) form, Saturnine is The Guardian of the Road of Lost Souls in the Marvel Universe (which exists within THIS universe of course, but which anyone who has had more than a cursory glance can tell you, occupies a practically endless interlinking Wikipedia Universe of its own). Very morose; very Grim Reaper; very apt.

And? Planetary adjectives are all the rage. Happy people are commonly described as jovial, and mad ones as lunatic. The changeable are mercurial; and anything alien is either martian or at the very least, unearthly. So I say that ‘saturnine’, dark and sluggish beast that it is, deserves a better linguistic workout.

See also: Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)

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