The Romance of Language

In keeping with a New Year, I’m launching another weekly post on Fridays called The Romance of Language.

One of my gifts to myself this Christmas was a daily calendar entitled “Forgotten English.” As soon as I saw it I knew I’d want to use it to give little tidbits about historical words and phrases that have passed out of usage, but which give color to that language of historical romance. I hope to make this a once a week post, sort of a “food-for-thought” for your weekend.

The first one, since we have just finished a major holiday season, deals with another kind of holiday.

flickr_-_rainbirder_-_redwing_turdus_iliacus_in_the_rainWater Holiday:

“A rainy day when outdoor employment is suspended.” Francis Robinson’s Words Used in the Neighborhood of Whitby [Yorkshire], 1876

This immediately made me think, for no good reason really, of the opening line of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.”

Poor Jane! Have you ever been forced into a “water holiday?”

Here’s a video I found from YouTube via WikiMedia Commons hat illustrates the idea of a “water holiday”perfectly! (Warning–It takes a bit to load.)

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2 Responses to The Romance of Language

  1. Is “water holiday” still understood in modern English somewhere? I realize it might not be in common usage, but when it is used, is it understood? Like we understand “groovy” though only old folks like me ever use it anymore. Where was it common? Was it limited to country parlance, or was it also used (or even limited to) city folks?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I went back to the source, Trish, to see if there was any other information, and I could literally find nothing. It was apparently used in Yorkshire in the late 19th century, but that’s all I could find out. So likely it was specific to the locale of Whitby in Yorkshire only. Still, I thought it an interesting way to express being cooped up inside because of the rain. Today I’m having a “frozen” water holiday! LOL


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