Tuesday, September 21, 2010

squash, drinking, mondegreen

Posted by PicasaProof of the pumpkin. Here it is, the pumpkin squash which has climbed into the branches of an espaliered pear tree in the vegetable garden. You may remember that I mentioned it here the other day. It still hangs there today, although it has expanded  in size and weight since then.

There are four of them, off to watch football, I guess. They are standing in the crowded, London-bound train. Members of the same family I imagine, a man in his 50s perhaps and two younger one in their 20s and 30s and a young woman in her 20s. Similar features, a slightly turned up nose, and an easy way of talking, (their south London accent in the ascendant), suggest a close relationship. Their conversation is lively and genial and replete with anecdote. And they are drinking, warming up for the match no doubt,  direct from the bottle, as people do nowadays.  Now and then one of them stoops to deposit an empty bottle in a cardboard box on the floor beside their feet,  from where a replacement is provided. I watch and enjoy the sensual way in which they raise the bottles, almost, but not quite in unison, and tip the beer into their mouths as they talk.

Some time ago I referred here to mondigreens  - words based on mishearings.  The word  mondigreen is derived from a mishearing of the  Scottish ballad  about the Bonny Earl of Murray, which goes " They hae slain the Earl of Murray,/ And laid him on the green." To the ears of the child to whom the poem was read, this became "They hae slain the Earl  of Murray/ And lady Mondegreen. I am reminded of mondigreens by one which seems to have occurred naturally in the way different  languages sometimes melt into one another. The French word that prompts this post is boulingrin, which is derived from the English word bowling green, and has the same meaning, a fact which is confirmed by the French dictionary Robert. The date for its first use in French is given as 1663.

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