Saturday, October 20, 2012

Is It Autumn Or Fall?

A common argument that springs up this time of year is whether this season is autumn or fall. The British may be annoyed at the simplicity of the term used so widely across North America, but do they know that they once used the same word?

Are these autumn or fall leaves?
We'll say yellow leaves.

Yep! That's right, the old British word for the season was fall. As language does evolve and change then there's no reason that some words remain popular in some places and slide out of fashion in others. Some used fall and some used autumn. Those using fall swanned off to the Americas where they were sick of the posh-sounding word "autumn" and those fond of it decided that the motherland was the place to be.

The word autumn had been taken from the Old French word autompne, which is now automne in Modern French. The word fall came from various roots, all meaning to fall from a height. Previously, the word harvest was used everywhere, which would have prevented a lot of arguments had it stayed in fashion! It seems to be a significantly clearer term, though it is true that most people don't harvest their own food any more...

Look at this lovely vineyard. It's a shame that the
closest most people get to harvesting their own food
is opening the plastic packaging it comes in.

Of course, you can enjoy the autumnal colours of the season but not the fall-al colours. (Of course, colour is rarely used with fall.) Though not for much longer, unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere...

So which is right? Either and neither, don't get upset!