Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cottages and frost

I could say that nothing has happened this week for me, but that is not quite true, for I have been finger tapping on the Internet looking for a small cottage in Whitby. Its rather exciting this exploration, looking into these small houses and trying to create mental pictures. Whitby is so medieval, narrow streets, narrow alleyways and tiny poky cottages that may have housed a large fishing family in its time but have now become holiday homes so that modern double beds seem to overwhelm tiny beamed rooms. Most of Whitby is tiered rows of houses up the hills that surround the harbour; a choice of medieval, Georgian, Victorian and modern.

Last night they were talking of Captain Cook and his ship sailing to Australia and the inevitable consequences of colonialism that destroyed the indigenous population.

A replica of the Endeavour (but only 40% of the original size)

Well Captain Cook started work in Whitby when he was young and went to work on ships trading out of Whitby to London and the local museum has a large display of his life and work, the famous ship Endeavour on which he sailed was built in Whitby and up till two years ago a replica of the ship was moored alongside the quay.

Cook sailed round the world both north and south poles, and it brings me to something else.

Rime - frost, especially formed from cloud or fog;

A few days ago I read about the etymology of the word frost on a beautiful photogenic website called The Fields we Know, and so I did some delving as well. Words were a common theme last week, Mornings Minion had also written about fascinating descriptive weather words. What had struck me was the word rime something we find used in poetry and 19th century literature, but which also is a term used for frost. It's Old English - hrim and if you were Saxon you would say hrim-ceald - icy cold, or hrim-giecel - icicle and hrimrig - rimy. So what puzzled me about the word, it was so similar to rhyme which means 'identity of sound between words or the endings of words.' So we have rhyme - rime; which is medieval or OE, and greek ryuthmos.

Leading on to another similar word but spoken differently, is rhythm - 'measured flow of words and phrases in verse or prose'. Must be modern but I always have trouble with the spelling of both.

A snowy, frosty December last year, the water was dark and crystal clear, reflecting the trees so that there seemed another world underneath the water. The river and its bank and trees, had turned into a fairy land, greys figure prominently against the white with a hint of black, and the twisted shapes of odd branches brings a tone of witches.....


  1. I am fascinated by the nuances of words as well as their derivations.
    I've been thinking about the phrases which come down to us as part of regional folk culture--maybe the term "vernacular" fits here [?]
    Sometimes I'd like to incorporate a descriptive term which I feel I have no "right" to use--a Scots or UK form of English which might seem presumptuous.
    We did much internet property shopping ahead of our move 8 months ago--biggest lesson learned is that most realtors' ads puff the property beyond recognition!

  2. Hi MM, using words from different cultures is probably quite common nowadays we just don't realise I'm sure.
    As for buying a holiday let (in this instance to fund my family), I suspect the estate agents put it up by a few thousand so that they can drop it! the secret is bluff and a stony expression on the buyers part ;)