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Beaks, Greek and Bones

Three weeks ago, in a comedy attempt to climb onto my bike and start cycling (something I clearly need more practice at), I bashed my coccyx. It’s still sore, so I’ve taken an unnatural interest in the word. First, I learnt how to spell it*. Then I found out it is triangular and bears a striking resemblance to a cuckoo’s beak. Apparently. I can only assume no other bird has a triangular beak quite the same. The Greeks obviously had the best sounding word for cuckoo (kokkyx) and so there we have it. If you’re interested, the plural is coccyges.

* Robert smugly said I should have known this already, for playing Scrabble with. I smugly pointed out how wrong he was. That is, until I remembered about the blanks. Still, it would still be a rare feat.

Ginger Biscuits and Salty Chocolate

Last week during our Italian class, we had to talk about what typical things we would offer guests to our house.

One girl suggested ‘biscotti alla canella’ (cinnamon biscuits). Malcolm next to me went for ‘biscotti alla mandorla’ (almond biscuits). Now, I love biscuits, which is why I almost never buy them because they would get eaten too quickly and they are not full of healthy things, like cabbage is (which I was eating at dinnertime today, in a cider, cream and mustard sauce with butterbeans, leeks and thyme, served with stove-top butternut squash scones … but I digress).

The best tasting ginger biscuits?

So I chipped in ‘mi piacciono molto i biscotti al zenzero’ (I really like ginger biscuits). I didn’t get round to explaining they have to be the ones with big chunks of stem ginger in them.

Next thing, I’m being asked by the lovely Carlo (our stand-in teacher for the week); ‘se veniamo a casa tua stasera, ci serviresti i biscotti al zenzero?’ (if we were to come to your house tonight, would you serve us ginger biscuits?). Unfortunately, no, I have no ginger biscuits in the house (see above). But, luckily, I have something else very special. ‘Non, ma offrirei il cioccolato alla sale. Solo cioccolato che è fatto di 70% cacao, minimo’.

Salty dark chocolate. Ranks up there only with soft salty caramel wrapped in dark chocolate. I’ll also eat dark chocolate with chilli, lime, spices or orange. But it has to be dark.

For any evening

For special occasions


According to Carlo, I’m very ‘cutting edge’, but I have to admit I was introduced to these delights by someone else, to whom I am forever grateful!

* Apologies for any language gaffes. It’s so much easier to hide mistakes when it’s not written down!

Drizzle and Mizzle

Something about language, but not Italian this time! Though it did come up during in conversation with some friends from my Italian class 🙂

Drizzle and mizzle are an interesting pair of words.

They mean practically the same thing, depending on your interpretation of the words ‘fine’ and ‘small’. This from my Chambers dictionary:

  • Drizzle, vi to rain in fine drops n a small light rain
  • Mizzle, vi to rain in small drops n fine rain

And they sound the same.

You might think they come from the same place or that one was just made up as a variation of the other. But they’re not. They come from completely different roots.

  • Drizzle [Frequentative of ME dresen, from OE dreosan to fall; Gothic driusan]
  • Mizzle [Cf LGer miseln mist]

I’m not an expert in etymology, but I can see that drizzle comes from Old / Middle English meaning fall, whereas mizzle comes from Low German meaning mist. Very interesting, isn’t it?

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