Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Costa this and Costa that

I'd thought the name Costa del Mar referred to place.  I think I was confusing it was with Costa del Sol, which I presume means the Sun Coast.   Costa del Mar means Sea Coast, which, when you think about it, is a bit of a tautology: surely a coast is usually only on the sea?  The first dictionary definition I found on the Net certainly defines it that way: Land next to the sea; the seashore.  Although it does mention that once upon a time the word was used for a border or frontier.  I doubt that anyone in English uses it that way anymore. 

Costa del Mar, which has its own Wikipedia page (and a comment from Wikipedia saying that the entry looks suspiciously like advertising...!) is actually a brand name.  I guess it's well known in the States - its headquarters are in Daytona Beach - but I've never heard of it.  Of course, I don't buy brand name sunglasses either, so that could be another reason.   Oh, the perils of not being brand-name-focused! There's so much you miss out on...

While checking out Costa del Sol, I came across this strange headline: Costa del Sol fire victims still left out in the cold after half a year of waiting.  Doesn't this have an air of the paronomasiac about it? (A pun, in other words).  Perhaps it was intentional; perhaps, on the other hand, the sub-editor had one of the flashes of language in which words just come together in a slightly surreal way, and he or she never noticed.  

And to hive of the subject we started with, talking of interesting words, yesterday I came across one and then was introduced to another this morning.  Yesterday's was Tchotchkes, which refers to those gifts you give people which aren't of any real value but you have to give them something.  There's a whole industry out there producing this kind of stuff.  When I worked in the book shop, my boss used to call these sorts of things, 'tinky-tonk' which is another delightful name.  Curiously, I'd thought this was original to her, but I should have known better.  Check out tinky-tonk on Google and you'll find it everywhere.  

The other word, which a friend introduced me to this morning, is febrifugal, which means mitigating or curing a fever. Or to put it another way, a way that doesn't explain anything: febrifugal is something that acts as a febrifuge.  Oh, the words just get more delightful as we go!

It's quite difficult to find febrifugal used in a sentence, but here's one: The common camomile, A. nobilis, is used as a popular remedy. Its flowers have a strong and fragrant and a bitter, aromatic taste. They are tonic, febrifugal, and in large doses emetic, and the volatile oil is carminative. Hmm.  A sentence that also expects you know 'emetic' and 'carminative'.  

Well, we've strayed a bit from Costa del anything...never mind, the fun of writing blog posts is that there are no restrictions on how far you can stray.  


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