21 September, 2012

Autumn vs Fall

The weather is changing seasons finally. Last night we slept without a fan for only the second time since we came back (not including camping). Today I don't even feel very sticky. I love it!

One of the funny things I find here in Japan is that everything starts to be pumpkin-shaded. I think that happens in America too. The marketing/decorating etc. becomes orange-themed. It is strange to me, coming from Queensland, Australia, where our seasons are much less marked; Halloween isn't a big deal (or haven't been in the past — I believe that that is changing a little), and Thanksgiving doesn't happen at all.

Gum trees, which are everywhere
in Australia, lose their leaves at
any time of year.
That brings me to a short discussion about the term for the season: autumn vs fall. I live and work in a somewhat American environment (of course the Japanese call it aki), so the word "fall" is used a lot, possibly almost exclusively for the season. In fact I've been working on the "Fall issue" of Japan Harvest recently. This term has apparently has been used with the magazine since it was founded in 1950 and is evidence that missions here have had a strong American influence.

It isn't a natural word for me to use at all. Even though it is English, it isn't my native English and I think most Australians regard it as an American term and one that we just don't use at all.

Yesterday I was surprised to find that the word has wider and older origins than America. That it isn't an American invention, but rather it fell out of use in England in the 18th Century when the French-origin "autumn" came into popular use.

I was also surprised to find that some Americans do use "autumn". It doesn't seem to be as foreign to them as "fall" is to us.

Here is where I found out some of that surprising information.

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