28th January 2016
The Rain it Raineth every day
The sun is shining this morning but more rain is on the way. So don’t shelve the plans for the ark just yet.
You’d think wouldn’t you, for a country that gets so much of the wet stuff descending upon our poor beleaguered heads, we’d have a huge stock of adjectives to describe it?
But seemingly we don’t. And nor do the Innuit have fifty words for snow. That, as linguist Geoff Pullum explains, is a myth and if you’re so inclined you can read more of that in this BBC magazine article.
Pullum reinforces his point by offering surfers as an example. As he says, surfers are people who spend their lives thinking about surf. Probably much more than the rest of us spend thinking about rain and the weather in general. He points out:
“It looms large in their imaginations, they think about it and talk about it all the time and its capacity for infinite subtleties. And yet they’re quite content to have a single word for it. Surf.”
So then it would seem that the most interesting terms our lexicon possesses to describe rain are the colloquial and regional ones:
Tippling down, pelting down, raining cats and dogs, coming down in stair rods, siling down and plothering down.
I’m very fond of ‘siling it down’ because we used that when I was growing up in Derbyshire. But I do rather like ‘plothering’. That’s got a nice wet, plopping, dropping sound to it.
Of course all this dank, miserable weather is nothing new. Back in 1889 the artist Norman Gaskin summed up how we’re all feeling right now in his painting of a windswept and rain battered Penzance promenade entitled: ‘The Rain it Raineth Every Day’. I think we can all relate to that don’t you?
You can see the painting and read more about it in this blog.
Stay dry, stay warm and stay safe. As for me – I’m off to Jewsons.
And now – well after all this talk of rain it would be rude not to: