Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Writing - The depth of language

So that sounds like it should be a meaningful title for a blog and in some ways it is intended to be but the actual contents are quite basic.

Image result for shrove tuesday

To give you an example of what I'm referring to I'm writing this on Shrove Tuesday. A signification that Lent is about to start on the Christian calendar but the word 'shrove' is strange and probably only used once every year.
Shrove comes from the word shrive, which means to obtain absolution from ones sins. Shrove Tuesday is the end of the season of shrovetide and is similar to the South American Carnival time. Chilli con Carne is part of Carnival and refers to meat. 

The idea for Pancake day and Carnival was to eat up the rich foods and meat before Lent began which was a period of austerity. Hence the term Mardi Gras or 'Fat Tuesday'.

But that isn't the whole story.

Image result for condemned man
A condemned man

Condemned prisoners were given opportunities to be shriven, or absolved, of their sins before the headsman completed his work. This was carried out by a priest some of whom weren't that keen on doing the job and so the prisoner may have been said to have been given short shrift which is where the saying comes from.

Meaning: If someone says they are going to give another person short shrift they are to treat another without sympathy and give little attention, much the same as the reluctant vicar.

All the above from one word. Obviously, looking into this sort of subject involves research but brings up opportunities for inspiration for a scene or just padding for a narrative. 
It is also demonstrates the value of history and historical research to twenty first century writers.

God Bless