Hoorah! It’s the spring or vernal equinox

Today marks the vernal equinox. The event that ought to herald spring, despite the less than springlike weather Britain has been enjoying recently. While the meteorologists have already kicked 'spring' off to a start at the beginning of the month, today is when 'astronomical spring' begins.

You say catafalque, I say catafalco – or grave or tomb

TV coverage of Her Late Majesty's demise and the Accession of the new King has focused attention on funereal language in general. And in particular a word we rarely get to hear or read, catafalque, has intrigued people.... That set me thinking about where other language of funerals comes from. It’s perhaps surprising how many of the words listed and discussed below are loanwords. Of catafalque, bier, hearse, coffin, funeral, grieve, mourn, bury, widow(er), grave and tomb, only bier, mourn, bury, widow(er) and grave are Germanic, i.e. inherited from Old English.

The Queen’s death: Royal and ritual language and procedures since

As a friend recently phrased it, before that it had been possible to hold two contradictory ideas in one’s head: that the Queen was very old and that she would live forever... The extent of the affection, regard and respect for her shown by the public since her death amounts to that oxymoron, a secular canonisation. Earl Marshal is an interesting compound noun which is in a sense a microcosm of the Norman Conquest, for it unites the Old English/Anglo-Saxon eorl with the Norman French marshal.