Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jiminy Cricket!

Cricket at Marylebone Field, 1790s -wikimedia
I can't resist writing about this, as it is so odd. Last night I had a dream which I'll spare you the details of, except for one. There was a disembodied voice that was ranting on because it was outraged that people did not seem to know that the word for cricket, the game, and cricket, the insect were not related! Now as far as I know, I have never thought consciously about this question, nor do I have a big fascination with either crickets or cricket, although I like crickets, love Jiminy Cricket, and thought the book Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, which has a little to do with playing cricket in New York, was pretty good, although maybe not quite the great shakes it was made out to be at the time.



Nor do I spend all my waking hours, let alone my sleeping ones, trying to think up new ideas for this blog, as I have more than enough ignorance to keep going for quite some time, believe me. Still, I woke up wondering, just how reliable is this dream voice? I'm well aware that dreams tend to speak metaphorically rather than literally, but what was the point of ranting on about this if it wasn't true? So I decided I would find out.

***

They are two different words. For some reason, I thought maybe the word for cricket the game came from India, although as far as I know, the sport is thoroughly British. But no. Both words are European. And actually both words may come from an Old French word, namely criquet.



Hang on, you say, doesn't that mean they do share a common origin? Apparently not. There are two Old French meanings of criquet. One comes from criquer and means to creak, rattle or crackle, and has according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, an "echoic" origin. This is the criquet that gave English the name for the insect in about the 14th century.

Wellington College, circa 1900-wikipedia




The name for the game is a little more in doubt but this Old French criquet means goal post or stick, and may go back to the  Middle Dutch/ or Middle Flemish word  cricke, and be related to the root word for crutch.

I'm still not sure just why the dream world felt it was important to call this all to my attention, but it does give me a chance to write down a quote from Antonio Machado, which  I found a couple of days ago as the epigraph at the beginning of Stuart Dybek's story collection, The Coast of Chicago:

De todo la memoria, solo vale
el don preclare de evocar los suenos.

Out of the whole of memory, there's one thing
worthwhile: the great gift of calling back dreams. 




4 comments:

  1. In a week when I creaked and nearly needed a crutch, it is good to learn about criquet. I also learned that the crane flies currently filling the Dallas air are considered a crunchy delicacy by dogs. Everything else I know about cricket I learned from Flashman. How I miss George MacDonald Fraser!

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  2. Crikey, Nancy, I do believe you've brought it all together.

    I must check out Flashman some day. I have never been able to figure out if the series is something I'd like or not.

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  3. This is in all ways wonderful!

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