Harvest time

Hampshire Harvest Festival This weekend it’s the Hampshire Harvest Festival hosted around Winchester Cathedral. As well as kid’s activities there will be a variety of stalls showcasing the county’s agricultural produce. With that in mind here are some harvest, (and harvest related) words.

Close Door

Photo J Beddington

Harvest appears first in English as a noun (in 902 OED) and is derived from Old English, with related words in a number of old Germanic languages. Around 1400 it started to be used as a verb as well both uses are still current.

The harvest originally refers to the time of year autumn (or fall for our American readers) but now is most commonly used in compounds like Hampshire Harvest Festival, Harvest Faire, Harvest Moon Etc.

harvest

photo credit: christian.grelard Vintage harvest via photopin (license)

It’s also widely used to talk about the outcome of some work even if that work has little to do with agriculture. Ex, ‘The harvest of new contacts from the latest advertising campaign was down on predictions again. I think we need to reconsider the approach.’ This more metaphorical approach also works as a verb Ex. “Analysing the survey data took longer than expected but we were able to harvest some really significant leads, even if the data is not entirely conclusive.”

A threshold, we may commonly understand to be the liminal space in the doorway say between two rooms, a room and a hallway and/or the inside and the outside of a building. The term comes from thresh (what you do to grain crops to separate the edible bits from the straw) and hold meaning to keep. Originally thresholds were put in the doors of barns to stop the grain blowing out.

A harvest moon is a large often orange-ish moon in autumn that would allow agricultural workers to work late to get the harvest in, or at least to return late from the fields before we had streetlights, torches (flashlights for you Americans) and cars.

Reap what you sow: this old saying means that you get what is coming to you. If you are nice and helpful towards others (even when you don’t have to be) then they are likely to be kind to you when you are in need. If you only do what you need to, then they are likely only to help you as much as they have to. Reaping is one of the first stages of harvesting many crops especially grains.

grim-reaper

photo credit: Anthony Quintano Banksy Grim Reaper New York City via photopin (license)

The grim reaper: this goes back in folklore to the idea that there is a spirit or “angel of death” that collects the souls of the recently dead and takes them to heaven. Normally depicted as a skeleton in a black hooded robe with a scythe, the grim reaper is a common theme for Halloween costumes.

To scrump: this means to take fruit, (especially apples) from trees that are not yours. Don’t forget scrumpy a type of strong cider perhaps made from these apples.

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Pancake Day

Today is ‘pancake day’.

Wait a second what does that mean?

Well ecclesiastically we are entering the season of Lent where traditionally in the Christian calendar people fasted or gave up rich foods, such as cream and eggs, or meat  most frequently on a Friday but for some throughout the season.

However, in contemporary Britain you’re more likely to find someone giving up chocolate,  sugar; fizzy drinks; wine or even Facebook or supermarkets.

With that in mind how do you make pancakes?

Well it’s actually very easy but a little practice makes perfect.

pancake -wikimedia

image via wikimedia

For North-American (sweet & fluffy) pancakes you need:

  • 1 cup (284 ml) self-raising flour
  • 1 cup (284 ml) of milk (full fat is nice but if you’re lactose intolerant water will work but you might need a bit more egg to help bind it).
  • 1 egg

Optional Extras:

  • A table spoon of sugar (Soft Brown sugars are especially nice here but anything works this helps the pancake to caramelise slightly).
  • Some Cinnamon and/or Vanilla (Personally I’d only use one or the other here).
  • Baking powder (especially if the flour isn’t self-raising/or isn’t that fresh)-(or you want to make them extra fluffy).
  • Cut fruit banana is a favourite of mine berries are also very nice but I’ve known people use chocolate chips here as well.

To make the batter: mix the egg, flour, milk, sugar, flavouring & baking powder together.

Fry on a medium high heat in lots of butter (the secret ingredient)-(margarine or oil will work here but may produce a slightly greasy pancake that you may wish to place on/pat with a piece of kitchen paper briefly before eating).

Pour about 100 ml or a third of a cup of your batter into the hot pan.

Add the slices of fruit etc.

When the bubbles on top are popping and leaving a little hole in the upper surface flip the pancake over. Unless you have lots of practice use a spatula or fish slice, flipping pancakes with a twitch of the wrist is a skill that requires work to master… and is only really good for showing off.

Serve with maple syrup, (golden syrup or honey work nearly as well) alternately jam and whipped cream.

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image via wikimedia

For British savoury pancakes substitute water for milk and plain flour for self-raising (and don’t add the baking powder). The pancake will also cook more quickly and can be served rolled with a variety of fillings. Ham & leek is a personal favourite and nice both with and without cheese, but experiment as lots of things work very well. You can substitute sour cream for the whipped variety as well. Be careful not to overfill them, especially if you plan to try and eat them like a burrito.

crepe

Tennis language:

In honour of Britain’s Davis Cup  win let’s have a look at some phrases relating to tennis.

The origin of the word tennis itself is thought to be from the French verb “tenner” witch was called when each player struck the ball into each other’s area of the court. The sport was probably imported into England by Henry the 8th or at least owes some of its popularity to his enthusiasm for it.

tennis

Royal Tennis from Hampton Court Palace

 

Tennis is primarily played on 3 surfaces, “grass”, “clay” and “hard court”. It can be played by 2 or 4 people with the team variety known as doubles. “Mixed doubles” is when each side has a man and a woman playing.

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Professional Tennis has a number (8-10) of line judges who “call balls in or out” although they effectively only call out these days.

“to call a ball in” – to say something is good/ok.

“to call a ball out” – to say something is bad/not ok.

Each match of tennis is presided over by an umpire, also called a chair umpire as they sit in an elevated chair on one side of the net. The umpire can overrule the line judges. A tournament is presided over by a referee whose job it is to ensure that everything is within the rules. Occasionally players may complain to the referee if they feel the umpire is treating them unfairly.

Tennis is a sport of many games, to claim victory over your opponent you need to win the match. Each match is made up of 3 or 5 sets, and you need to win six (or more) games to win each set. While you need six games to win the set, you also need a 2 game lead over your opponent(s) so 7-5 is a possible (in fact not infrequent) final score.

wimbledon

“game – set and match” is traditionally the umpire’s phrase when someone wins, as they will have one the game the set and the match.

“match point” is the critical moment when one player may win the whole match.

“to break service” when the point is won by the player(s) who did not start the play of that point then the service has been broken. A “break point” is the point where the receiving player(s) win the game.

“to win the toss” just before play starts the umpire will toss a coin and the player(s) who win the toss can chose whether they serve first or receive service first.

“serve for the match” when a player is serving for the match they are in a strong position and likely to win.

“love” there is no zero or nil in tennis; if you have no points you have love. The serving players points are always given first so 40-love the servers are about to win, love-40 they are about to lose. Each game starts love-love, one point is known as 15, a second moves you to 30, a third moves you to 40, a fourth is game. However, 40-40 is also known as deuce. From deuce a player needs two points consecutively to win the game; the first point known as advantage. If the score is advantage X and Y wins the point then the score goes back to deuce.

val

To be in a deuce, or describe a situation as a deuce means a difficult of tricky situation.

The phrasing Advantage name (or even name’s advantage) is quite common and while it reflects the tennis score it’s used widely outside of tennis circles.

“The ball’s in your court” when you have done what you can about a situation and you require action from someone else then you can say the ball’s in their court.

But wait… I speak English!

Welcome to our newest Guest Blog from Savannah King our Student Union VP international. Thanks Savannah!

                When you go to a country where the language is not your own, usually the expectation to feel some amount of distance from the culture and the language is common. On holiday, armed with a few phrases of the native language and a desire to experience the culture fuelled by your acknowledgment of its difference to you own, feeling out of your comfort zone is to some extent anticipated.

The same goes for international students for whom English is not their ‘native’ language, making the admirable and brave step to study in England. However, what about students like myself who are ‘international’, but have spoken English, often exclusively, since birth? Americans, Canadians, Australians, Jamaicans… those of us in this situation in the globalised world can often overlook the potential culture shock that might come from being in a country where the language is the same as at home. This English culture-shock for English speakers seems odd and insignificant compared to that experienced by Chinese, Norwegian, or Brazilian students, but is nevertheless a very real (and common) occurrence. Just as an example, have a think about the ways that American English usage is different to that of British English:

  • Using totally different words for the same thing: Sometimes the differences make since, such as the American counterclockwise indicating the same thing as the British anticlockwise. However there are countless occurrences of different words being unrecognizable to each other. Why is it you eat aubergine in England, but eggplant in America?
  • The same word having different meanings: such as ‘bill’. In the UK, this means a summary of charges, whilst in the States it has this meaning as well as also indicating a note of money, like ‘ten dollar bill’.
  • Connotations: When a room is ‘homely’ in the UK, it implies a positive sense of being cosy, warm, welcoming. However a homely room in America indicates a negative connotation of an unattractive or plain room.
  • Spelling: The classic, which will aggravate any British user of Microsoft Word who doesn’t change the settings to English (UK). Litre/litre, neighbor/neighbor, kerb/curb….
  • Phrasing and language choice: In the US, if someone asks ‘are you alright?’ it would normally be because they thought you were ill, or in some moderately significant distress. In the UK though, I ask and get asked this all the time, just as a polite and friendly greeting in everyday conversation. In this scenario in the US, ‘how are you?’ would be used in the same context.
  • Accents: The great variable in a language! Even if you KNOW you are both speaking English, the confusion, befuddlement, and infinite amounts of ‘sorry, could you say that again?’ present in your conversation can make anyone thing otherwise.
  • Pop culture references: These come from the culture in which they are used, so can be unknown to those from outside that culture. Saying that a hotel in the US was ‘like Fawlty Towers’, would only be understood if the person knew of the 70s British sitcom.

–          Idioms and expressions: When I first moved to the UK, within a few days I remember running into the expression ‘to take the Mickey’. I was completely baffled, thinking the person was talking about some sort of Disney kidnapping, rather than someone being unreasonable in one way or another.

Feeling disoriented in the UK, despite being from an Anglophone country, is a real occurrence, and it is not because either culture or language is wrong, they just often are very different. These differences though, and the opportunity to experience and recognise them are what make the experience of coming here interesting, stimulating, and full of cultural and linguistic flavour – or is that flavor?