by Kevin Burton
I hear you asking, should I say “fall” or “autumn” beginning tomorrow as the season changes?
I hear you asking this because my hearing is good. It’s my vision that isn’t so good.
Both my vision and hearing are selective, as my wife will tell you, and as you will see demonstrated here…because I hear somebody else asking a much better question:
Is there a band called Equinox? Answer, Yes. Bonus answer: And an orchestra.
My sources on this are Alexa, the world’s only speak-when-spoken-to female, and PBS.
“Play songs by Equinox,” I commanded Alexa, pronouncing the (is there a) band name with a long E.
“Playing songs by Equinox,” she said, using a short e.
This band plays instrumentals, really good stuff with lots of variety. Most of it sounds like songs you would use in movie scenes.
But you know the first song Alexa played by Equinox? It was “Autumn Leaves.”
Get it, Autumn Leaves by Equinox? That Alexa is such a cut up.
Got on the computer to look up Equinox and instead found on You Tube a tease for a PBS show featuring The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra. This is a band that plays pop songs and show tunes with a show tune feel.
Over an introductory drum roll you hear, “Born and raised in the heart of the Louisiana Delta, direct from their new home in Savannah, Georgia, Jeremy Davis and Clay Johnson present: The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra!”
The sound is dynamic in a PBS sort of way. They of course play “When The Saints Go Marching In.” Good stuff. I may double back and see if I can find the full show.
Hey jerk face, what did you mean by speak-when-spoken-to female!!
That question I (selectively) didn’t hear.
Carol Burnett used to take audience questions at the beginning of the show in the first few seasons. Remember that? She would give a quick response to the off-the-wall questions, then mine the comedic potential from the better ones.
So back to your original seasonal question, which now seems a quite good one, “autumn” actually refers to a leaf that comes off a tree but blows over the fence into your neighbor’s yard. “Fall” refers to a leaf you have to deal with, in your own yard. These are yardwork terms, take it from me.
Or, you can take it from www.writingexplained.org.
“Autumn is a noun. It refers to the season that occurs between summer and winter. Autumn is also used as a feminine name, in which case it functions as a proper noun and should always be capitalized,” the website explains.
Wasn’t buying that girl’s name stuff, but
www.momlovesbest.com, on a post last month, says Autumn is the 66th most popular name for a female. It says the name is of Latin and French Origins and carries with it nicknames of “Aut, Auts, Auttie, Autty, Auto, Min, Tum” and “Tum Tum.”
Of course the only truly suitable nickname for a girl named Autumn is “Fall.”
“Autumn is an old word—it has origins in Latin and carried through to modern use through Middle English. It was first recorded in its current form in the 14th century,” explains Writing Explained.
“Fall, of course, has several meanings, many of which mean to slip or to drop. As a noun it refers to a season.”
“Fall is also a very old word, and has been used to describe the autumnal season for several centuries. It is more popular in American than British English.”
“The season of pumpkin spice and everything nice goes by two names: fall and autumn. Although both refer to the same season, Americans often say “fall” more than “autumn,” writes Emily DiNuzzo in Reader’s Digest.
“Fall” and “autumn” were both once known as “harvest,” according to dictionary.com. And “harvest.” is the earliest name for this season. But the phrase was a bit confusing because it refers to both the time people usually harvest crops and the actual harvesting of crops. “Autumn,” a word dating back to the late 1300s, became popular as an alternative.”
“The word “fall” likely stems from “the fall of the leaves” or “falling of the leaves,” phrases poets liked, according to Merriam-Webster,” DiNuzzo writes.
“Although both fall and autumn stem from Britain, autumn was the more popular word for a long time. It wasn’t until the 1800s that American English and British English took unofficial stances on these words: fall is the word of choice in the U.S. and autumn in Britain. It’s still unclear why America clings so strongly to fall.”
So there you have it, Reader’s Digest doesn’t know. You can call it Harvest for all I care.
But, if you must know, we have two words so that headline writers can use “fall” where it fits and “autumn” where they have more space to fill. Remember, when in doubt, blame the media.
Back in the ‘70s the band, McGuffy Lane had a song called Lady Autumn.
Tracy Duffy firstname.lastname@example.org
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