autumn vs. fall

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Nov 9 20:21:02 UTC 2010

At 11/9/2010 01:38 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>And not just over the past 5 years.  Compare this eloquent plaint
>from over a decade ago:
>... "Since the autumn of the Berlin Wall a decade ago, rightist
>violence has become a fact of German life" (IHT, August 2 [2000], p.
>5). This makes me think that a New York Times slot man or drudge
>makes it his business to replace the word fall with the posher but in
>my opinion uglier word autumn.
>More likely some stylistic rule that makes the change. Reminds me of
>that list of songs printed somewhere, that included "African-American
>is the Color of My True Love's Hair."
>RIma [McKinzey]

I assume the writer didn't want to say "Since the fall of the Berlin
Wall a decade ago ...", which might be taken as referring to the
actual falling, but rather to suggest the fading of autumn?

>For British English, though, a distinction is sometimes made between
>the three-month season and the actual leaf-dropping, as witness the
>minimal pair in this observation:
>The fall had come late this year, and after one of the most beautiful
>autumns she could remember.
>--P. D. James (2004), The Murder Room

Elegantly put.


The American Dialect Society -

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