The "Dog Days of Summer", “April Showers Bring May Flowers” How is the weather text different linguisticall?
Dr. Abdulkhaliq Alazzawie
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Department of Foreign Languages
Mother Nature, Not Parent Nature
For centuries, people needed to take note of the weather and the seasons bringing on different weather, temperatures, and conditions in order to survive. Since "Mother Nature", not “Parent Nature”, “Papa Nature”, “Aunty Nature”, nor any other relative or person pairs with Nature in this sense, had such power over life, could change fortunes, and was more or less predictable at times and rather unpredictable at other times, speculation over weather lead to short- and long-term forecasts (forecasting in general), and weather warnings and advisories.
Farmers looked to the sky to determine whether blue skies (sunny weather), rain, or stormy weather was on the way, as did the shepherds who tended their flocks. Sailors plotted the stars to help them with direction in the sailing of their ships and, like farmers or shepherds; they too looked out for stormy weather. Or, perhaps the sailors determined the direction of the wind for their sails, thus the existence of terms related to wind such as "north wind", “westerly wind”, etc.
This article addresses the register of weather and season description, its context of usage within the general culture in which it operates.
Different seasons brought on different temperatures and conditions, which everyone needed to heed - the freezing conditions or blizzard conditions of winter, the monsoon, tornado, or hurricane seasons, dry spells, wet spells, cold spells, or perhaps a cold snap, dry conditions, or an oncoming drought, and so on. Thus, there are many collocations connected to weather. Christmas may be the season to be jolly, but winter has frosty air (thus the often exclaimed There's a chill in the air, It's nippy outside, It's freezing out there!, There's a biting wind) and freezing temperatures, resulting in snow, snowfall, snow cover, snowdrifts, snowstorms, snowsqualls, white-out conditions, ice, black ice, hail, sleet, slush, and melting snow or ice at times. All this nasty weather with its hazardous conditions calls for warnings and advisories, such as a freezing drizzle warning or a severe wind advisory or an update on winter-driving conditions. Adjectives like frozen, frigid, ice-cold, bitter cold, biting cold, blustery, frozen solid, and so on makes us want to bring out our winter wear and snow tires.
Fall brings on cool weather and often a lot of rain, moisture, and dampness with much cloud cover, or brooding, overcast, grey, cloudy skies, precipitous conditions, (necessitating precipitation forecasts/warnings), a time change (thus the expression: Spring forward; Fall back to help us remember when to turn the clocks ahead or back), and descriptions or expressions related to the changing colour of leaves, such as “The sky is ripe with colour." The term Indian Summer refers to a stretch of weather that is unusually clear, dry, and warm that occurs in the late autumn now and again, usually after a killing frost.
Spring is the season of rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation, and new beginnings, thus the expression of the many splendours of spring. Snow and ice melt are heard trickling, shoots or sprouts spring up all over, flowers come into bloom and grow again, leaves grow on trees again, grass gets green and grows again, robins bounce around on lawns while they look for worms again, and animals come out of hibernation. Springing from old customs, people turn to the groundhog to determine if winter is lingering on or spring is about to arrive. In fact, the groundhog is the only mammal to have a day named after it, Groundhog Day, not Hedgehog Day or Porcupine Day or Elephant Day or any other substitution is possible because it is the groundhog that is customarily used to test the weather in late winter. Custom has it that if the groundhog sees its shadow when it emerges from its den, there could be up to 6 more weeks of winter; if not, spring is on its way. Expressions related to spring are especially catchy, such as the ides of March, Will March come in like a lion or a lamb? or perhaps it came in like a lamb and went out like a lion (or vice versa), April Fools (people who are tricked on April 1st), and April Showers Bring May Flowers. This last expression can be understood literally of course, but it also takes on another meaning: that even the most unpleasant of things can lead to very enjoyable things.
The summer season has resulted in many expressions related to good weather, dry or humid conditions, and heat of course: the burning sun (thus sunburn or sunburnt, heatstroke, sunstroke, dehydrated/dehydration), sunny skies/weather, blue skies, beach, bikini, or sandal weather, and the obvious hot weather. The dog days of summer is a reference to the hottest and most humid days of summer, which may give rise to lazy or lethargic behaviour. You can't substitute "dog" with any other animal, nor choose a season at random to pair with "dog." This is a set expression inherited from the Romans who associated the hottest weather with the brightest star (Sirius, the "Dog Star") in the Canis Major (Large Dog) Constellation. The term “pineapple express” refers to a strong flow of atmospheric moisture originating around the Hawaiian Islands and brings with it heavy precipitation all the way up to and along the Pacific Coast of Canada and the United States, or North America.
Climate change is now a great concern of many and is being faulted for causing the wild weather that is becoming increasingly hazardous and unpredictable. Weather watches, weather warnings, weather monitoring, weather advisories, and forecasting are also very important for airports, airlines, all companies, and their employees related to transportation. "Road conditions" are always reported on the radio for drivers.
So, again, weather and seasons, these daily and regular cycles which so greatly affect man's fortunes, health, and survival, have necessitated the development of an industry and its related language.