Jane Ellen

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Curious and curiouser ...

I am only beginning to realise that I grew up hearing terms that were ever so slightly inaccurate. As soon as darkness fell, it was automatically "night". I don't remember ever hearing the word "evening" used by any adult in my sphere. I found it strange that night seemed to shift and appear at different times, especially when we were living abroad and it was rarely night time before I had to go to bed. But I cannot ever remember the use of the word evening outside of literature.

Another example that dates to my youth is that no matter where anyone lived, it was in a "house" and never in an "apartment" unless you were specifically stating that you lived in a row of apartments on such and such street. Even today, sharing a flat, I find myself saying "I have got to clean house" or "Come over to my house and we'll work on it."

If, as a child, I heard the sentence "The Blue family are coming over to our house tonight", that meant the Blues were coming over to the apartment at some unspecified point after darkness fell. No wonder I was a confused child!

My BFF has noticed over the years (admittedly, with some delight) that I sit "in" the floor and never "on" the floor. She once asked precisely how I was accomplishing that feat, and I had absolutely no answer. Even now I tend to say "She is sitting in the floor playing with the cat." Maybe I can get away with saying that is some sort of non-Euclidean geometrical reference to the H P Lovecraft ‘verse? Doesn’t quite work for house and evening, though . . .

I've found these minor distinctions to be an annoyance, and I'm trying (albeit somewhat unsuccessfully) to eradicate them from my vocabulary. I've chosen arbitrary points, as well: evening means 6pm or later, and night doesn't begin until 10pm. Nevertheless, I still find it very easy to say "I'm attending a concert tonight at 7pm" - instead of using the word evening. The word simply doesn't appear to be in the syntax of my brain.

I think I'll go sit in the floor and ponder a bit more . . .

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