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  • Betty Girardeau

"Fall" An American "Barbarism"


I didn't call Fall that, the Grammarist did. According to them, those who consider British English the "true English," look down on those who refer to Autumn as Fall. Prior to the 1600's in England, the third season of the year was call the "Harvest" season for obvious reasons. But in the 1600's more people were moving into big cities and that term did not seem as appropriate as it had. Consequently, that is when the terms "fall" and "autumn" began to be used to refer to this time of the year. Autumn comes from the Latin word autumnus, the root of the word connoting the passing of the year. Fall is likely a deviation from the old English words "fiaell" and "feallan," both words meaning to "fall from a great height," and probably inspired naming the season that because of the falling of leaves at this time of year. During the 17th century both words were used interchangeably, but the "more poetic" fall is the term that crossed the water to become the more popular name in American English. Either way, to many the third season of the year is often considered the most popular one, vying with spring for the "favorite's" honor. I have thoroughly been enjoying my drives up and down country roads to reach my next Census case and noticing all the special natural aspects of the season. Each day there is a bit more color in the trees, blending beautifully with the browns, tans, and yellow greens of the fields. Often the skies are perfectly clear and an intense shade of blue. In some places there are fields of pumpkins and pumpkin stands sharing space with fresh apples and displays of dried cornstalks. Many people seem to take great pleasure in decorating their yards and homes to celebrate this time of the year, too. Along the sides of many of the roads I have been traveling are thick patches of bright goldenrod and late blooming yellow daisy-like flowers. The angle of the sun is different, too, and less intense, even in the middle of the day. In fact, it is a pleasure to be outside and feel the warmth of the sun, more like a gentle caress, than summer's scorching heat. While the fresh greening of growing things in the spring is beautiful in its own way, it cannot compare to the vibrant and varied colors of a fall day. In fact, when the colors are at their peak, it almost doesn't matter if the sun isn't actually shining because the trees themselves become something like mini-suns, the gold and yellow ones especially, brightening all that is around them. The gathering of census information has officially been extended to October 30, and while the work can be a bit tedious at times, I will be glad to be able to be out and about working for a few more weeks.

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