Saturday, 25 October 2008

Archaic words


I am reading Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K Jerome. Excellent book. So far I have learnt that "bummel" does NOT mean bicycle or even bicycle trip. Which is what I thought it must be. Three Men on a Boat - self evident, Three Men on the Bummel plus a picture of men on bicycles equals bummel; superseded word for "bike"? Wrong!

Bummel is a German word (am half German, therefore feel an affinity with German words - they must be in my genes somewhere, I always think, just waiting to burst out of me? One day, when the conditions are right, I will break into fluent German and surprise everyone around me. In the meantime, thank God for Google!) So, according to JK Jerome, a bummel:

"I should describe as a journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started. Sometimes it is through busy streets, and sometimes through the fields and lanes; sometimes we can be spared for a few hours, and sometimes for a few days. But long or short, but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the sand. We nod and smile to many as we pass; with some we stop and talk awhile; and with a few we walk a little way. We have been much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when it's over."

In other words "going bush" :o)


Another word in the same book that had me stumped until I got to trusty Google: camelopard [kuh-mel-uh-pahrd]. Any guesses? I thought old word for camel. Obvious. Interesting and quirky. Wrong! A camelopard is a GIRAFFE! The long (proper?) name for a giraffe is a Giraffa camelopardalis. A giraffe! Good Lord. Even better, is that the word "pardalis" means "leopard or panther". Camēlopardālis. Marvellous! That brings a certain picture to mind. Never again will I call a giraffe a giraffe! From now on it is a camelopard.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmm......yes, well, moving swiftly on :o)

Carrie said...

Where to?