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Pumpkin

Pumpkins

A few days ago I noticed that the local markets are already selling pumpkins for carving, and for eating (there are some pumpkin varieties that are known especially for sweet flesh, appropriate for pies and puddings and sweet breads). And I've seen the appearance of pumpkin lattes and pumpkin-inspired beers. In other words, yes we're in the season known as autumn, and fast approaching harvest.

A woman at the grocery store noticed me admiring the pumpkin display, and told me that they're native to America, and that the word pumpkin is itself a native American word. I nodded politely, and didn't correct her, but no, pumpkin is not a native American word, it's a good English word, in the sense that we swiped it from the French, who got it from Greek via Latin.

Modern English pumpkin derives from the now obsolete pumpion, itself from the obsolete Medieval French pompon, popon, from Old French pepon, from Late Latin pep┼Źn, from Latin, meaning "watermelon or…

Scatosyntheton

There’s been an unfortunate increase in the last four of five years of people who want to offer critical, opinionated reviews of books they haven't read. This is usually done in an effort to prevent anyone else reading the book. A review of a book the author hasn’t read is, on the face of it, such an odd idea that many people are surprised it happens. It not only happens, it’s become downright common. The habit of critiquing a book the critiquer or reviewer has not read is in part related to people who want to ban books that they take issue with; like the parents of Litchfield, N.H. who want to ban books they haven't read, but are absolutely positive are offensive, or any number of people who have objected to any number of literary works that are generally considered classics, but that they not only haven't read, they don't want anyone else to read them, either. These are people who have a socio-political agenda. They're not really interested in books, or new i…