[Our previous foray into hyping up the ‘season of renewal’ went so well that we felt compelled to do it again. However, rather than exclude our Antipodean friends (... and readers (... and subscribers (... and paying subscribers)))
‘Spring is here, sper-
Spring is indeed here; but spring has for millennia been amongst those of us who reckon ourselves the linguistic descendants of the Proto-
Now, were we merely morphologically minded and etymologically oriented at SpecGram, we might just leave it there, with a nod to the strong verb, cross-
Word categories first, as nanny used to say.5 From bare verbal spring we get the particle verbs spring up
In the nominal world,6 concrete noun spring (as in, ‘We’ve got spring E on the hidden trapdoor working again, Barbara!’) is the mechanical cousin to geographical ‘another cow has drowned in the spring’, the first of which metaphorises into ‘I had a spring in my step before I fell down the steps’, the second of which suggests that a bridge should be constructed. Then there’s the adjective springy, which, for those of us like Barbara with hidden trapdoors, is not to be confused with spring E. And last but not least, as a proper noun, our lexeme turns up in that current, most optimistic of seasons, Spring. Which neatly explains why its autumnal antithesis is known as Fall.
In Collocationland, chefs cook with spring onions, maritime captains sail on spring tides, and generals plan spring offensives. The last of these is so-named as soldiers have so much more of a spring in their step in Spring, be they charging across No Man’s Land in northern France in the early 20th century, or avoiding IEDs in half-
Spring springs ever more surprises; it’s the gift that keeps on springing. We’ll skip over the Middle English use of spring as a trap because, well, it’s just Middle English, isn’t it? What we won’t skip over, however, or spring over for that matter, is wishing you, reader
Let’s finish, of course, with a poemette:
SpecGram is a truly wonderful thing:It puts a little linguistic springInto everyone’s step. Spring, sprang, sprung!Keep reading, reader: the funnies have just begun!
1 The opening line, no less, of ‘Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,’ the thrust of which was later reworked in ‘Suffering Satirists on the Stage.’
2 Reader warning: serious linguistic comment follows. So it’s Gmc springen from PIE *sprengh- (nasal form of root *spergh- ‘to move, hasten, spring’) cognate with Sanskrit sprhayati ‘desires eagerly’ and Greek sperhesthai ‘to hurry’. Phew (from aspirated *phew- ‘to feel release’), that’s the lurnin’ done with; let’s spring back to the text!
3 Ça veut dire, ‘la main devant votre nez au milieu de la journée.’ Or, to clarify further, ‘рука перед носом посеред дня.’
4 We never do things at SpecGram.
5 Or was it ‘bird-
6 i.e., not the real world.
7 Although if electing to engage in combat in desert conditions, a spring of water might be hard to locate.