Friday, 29 October 2010

Thoughts About Surnames




Did you know that surnames were originally devised so that the first tax collectors could keep track of individuals? We all know that there are a lot of Smiths and Carpenters about but when they ran out of the common trade names, they had to be more inventive. Thus : someone who had large feet, pied de grue (feet of a crane) became Pettigrew. Names like Rousseau, Rouse, Russell and Ross indicated someone with red hair. Now, my favourite columnist thinks in today's South Africa, we could do with names like: “Stuckup, Myright, Overnow and Changewind……Houselost, Jobslost and Headingoff”. In February 2008, I would like to venture my own additions viz. Lightsoff, Powergone and Emigrate. …..And briefly to another topical matter... I see the guys have returned as promised to fix the water meter. They are tapping gently at the rather massive concrete structure with which my husband had ring-fenced the tap and one is saying sorrowfully, “Die ding is hieltemaal toegeconcrete”. ("The thing is completely concreted in" - did you spot the Anglicism? In South Africa we are quite lazy with our two most popular languages - English and Afrikaans - and we often intermix words - to the horror of purists. Well, of course, my husband never does things by halves. What will they do now?

2010 Update... well we are still here - but have bought a generator as we are promised many huge powercuts when out electricity company finally gets around to building several last-chance nuclear power stations. No one yet knows from whence the money will come. Give you one guess though.

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