A few months ago I asked on an online forum whether people’s dreams match their extrovert v introvert type. I think I asked because I’d just had an unusually extroverted dream. In most of my dreams, I am either alone or with people but not interacting with them.
One dream last night involved a choir rehearsal (one of my former choirs, but in an unfamiliar church building). During our supper in the foyer, someone miraculous quickly totally decorated the main part of the building in bright red tinsel. Almost everyone else oohed and aahed and rushed to take photos, but I sat down on a couch in the foyer, marking up my choral scores, assisted by another chorister. I like taking photos, but I don’t like scrambling among other people to take them, and I really don’t like bright red tinsel anywhere, let alone in church buildings. The chorister who was helping me is also a keen photographer.
Another dream involved being caught up in a James Bond story, but not interacting with the characters, just ducking out of the way whenever they came by. James Bond got shot and killed for real.
On a wet weekend, while recovering from a perfectly ordinary but nonetheless annoying cold, I was catching up on some language and linguistics blogs I rarely read, possibly because those bloggers are far less active these days than previously. One of those is David Crystal. One of his posts relates the story of Gerard Manley Hopkins contributing Irish words and phrases for the English Dialect Dictionary, published between 1898 and 1905. Some of the items don’t sound dialectal at all, some are amply attested elsewhere, and some were new to me.
My eye was caught by
bodach, sb, an old man; a churl
Ireland. GMH [no example]
I immediately flashed back 40 years to my last year or two of primary school in country Victoria, when and where the word bodack (however spelled – it was rarely written) was used as a one-word reply to express disbelief or derision at someone else’s statement. (The exact level of disbelief or derision depended on the exact amount of inflection in the pronunciation.) Are the two words connected? It’s impossible to say now.
Just before I woke up this morning, I had a long, vivid, fragmented dream. In the last scene, ‘dream I’ was standing in a licenced club next to a man who was looking at the front cover of a gambling magazine, featuring a photo of an apparent famous professional gambler. The man said ‘I want to study his – mercy’ (obviously not sure about the last word). ‘Dream I’ said ‘The word you want is mertique’, at which point I woke up.
‘Real I’ lay there befuddled, trying to decide whether mertique was a real but very rare word, with the meaning ‘another word for technique, most often used about sales staff and gamblers’ or whether my sub-conscious had simply made it up, and if so, why?
After some time, I came downstairs, searched Dictionary.com (my default resource) and got no result. I did a general Google search and got ‘About 1,460 results’, including user names on various social media, business names (Mertique Spa), ‘sirloin mertique’ and sentences which look like Latin (one of which turns out to be a mis-OCR-ing of ‘mortique’ (morti(s)+que is identifiably Latin)). Setting Google Translate to ‘detect language’ detects Latin, but then translates it as mertique. None of which explains why my sub-conscious brain chose to use it.
Mertique could be an English word – it fits the sounds and syllable patterns. But apparently it’s not.
It is an ending-in-5 number of years since I started university. (For some reason, ending-in-0 and ending-in-5 anniversaries seem to be more significant.) I don’t remember the exact date, but the 1st of March is an arbitrary day to commemorate it. The first week was/still is Orientation Week (or O-Week). Among other activities, the student societies set up booths on the main lawn and students can inquire and join. As I wandered around, I bumped into a friend from a nearby city who I knew from regional music camps. One of the booths we saw was that of the Gay and Lesbian Society. Its banner read ‘Are you hung up about being gay?’. I said to my friend, ‘I’m not hung up about being gay!’, which is true but ambiguous. I found out several years later that he’d taken the meaning ‘I’m gay but I’m not hung up about it’, rather than my actual meaning of ‘I’m not gay so I’m not hung up about it’. Fortunately he hadn’t said or done anything homophobic in the meantime. I was/am, in fact, about as straight as it is possible to be.
All these years later, with a qualification in linguistics, I still can’t figure out just where the ambiguity arises. Either I am gay or not. Either I am hung up about it or not. Whatever else I am hung up about, I’m not hung up about being gay. (By the way, I’m not sure what students who were gay and not hung up about it were meant to do.)
Today is the 1st of March (at least where I’m sitting, but not where WordPress’s clock/calendar is located), which is commemorated in some parts of the Christian Church as St David’s day. It is a date of some significance in our family. This year it falls on Wednesday, indeed on Ash Wednesday, which is commemorated in most parts of the Christian Church. This is coincidental, as Ash Wednesday, which is linked to the lunar calendar calculation of Easter, can fall anywhere between 4 February and 10 March. 1 March 2006 also fell on a Wednesday, which is not surprising, as the calendar repeats every 11 + 11 + 6 years. 1 March 2006 was also Ash Wednesday, which is surprising, as the date of Easter jumps around the calendar seemingly randomly. (If there is a pattern, it certainly plays out over longer periods than 11 years.)
Yesterday topped 38 degrees Celsius/100 degrees Fahrenheit and today was forecast to be similar.* As I left this morning, I said to my wife ‘Stay cool’ (in the temperature sense). She said ‘What does that mean?”. I said ‘It means – stay – cool. Don’t get too hot.’
I don’t know about anyone else, but I would never tell anyone to stay cold. Correspondingly, in winter, we would tell people to stay warm, not stay hot.
*And it was. As I type this mid-evening, a cool change has blown in, but my house is still very hot. I’ve opened all the doors and windows, but it hasn’t had much effect yet.
(For more discussion about cold, cool, warm and hot.)
A few weeks ago, I went to a national cemetery on the outskirts of the city I’m living in. At one point, I took two photos six seconds apart of (a modern reproduction of) a traditional pavillion reflected in a pond, adjusting various things in the time between. Looking at the two photos, one is ‘almost but not quite’ and the other is now in my album of ‘very best photos’ for this year. The differences are small: in the first, a few leaves on bush on the near shore are visible, along with a band of the reflected sky; in the second, I’ve zoomed slightly, framing out the bush and sky, and including less of the trees at the top. The reflection is not quite symmetrical horizontally, but the fish fills the extra space. It may not be the best photo ever, or even my best photo ever, but I unhesitatingly chose it among my ‘very best’ for this year.