paraphernalia

Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply

paraphernalia

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:27 pm

We were driving back to Wales from a trip to Yorkshire that we took to help Margaret with her hiraeth and the word PARAPHERNALIA cropped up in conversation.

I had no idea where the word came from and when we got home I was quite surprised that according to The Online Etymological Dictionary it is “a woman's property besides her dowry”, so how and when did come to mean “miscellaneous articles, especially the equipment needed for a particular activity: and the trappings associated with a particular institution or activity that are regarded as superfluous” (Oxford)?
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by tony h » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:07 am

I understand your interest in paraphenalia but hiraeth is wonderful. It is a word I have often needed and didn't know existed. And what is rather more bizarre is that I can now use hiraeth but in the full knowledge that no one will know what I am talking about so I could have made up any word.
Post actions:
Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:01 am

Tony, I have always said that "Just 'cos the English don't have a word for hiraeth, don't mean they don't get it!"
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by tony h » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:02 pm

So how do you pronounce it and use it in an (english) sentance?
Post actions:
Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by Phil White » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:53 pm

So "hiraeth" is a sort of undefined, wistful longing for a state of affairs that probably never existed, but should have done. Sounds like "life" to me. Trust the bloody Welsh to make it sound so poetic.
Post actions:
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:19 pm

Who knew that when I, as a toddler, threw a tantrum at the supermarket checkout after being refused sweets, it was really hiraeth I was suffering from?
Post actions:

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:13 pm

Apparently "hiraeth" is pronounced hɪəraɪ̯θ. (Hirr ('i' as in 'hill') eith).

"I had to go home to see Mam and Dad. The hiraeth had got too much."
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:24 am

aaa
Bob, Getting back from hiraeth to your original question (I gotta do what I gotta do!), here’s a definition plus two etymologies the first of which I find unthrilling.

RANDOM HOUSE WEBSTER’S UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY

PARAPHERNALIA: noun plural but singular or plural in construction

1) Equipment, apparatus, or furnishing used in or necessary for a particular activity: a skier's paraphernalia.

2) Personal belongings.

3) Law. The personal articles, apart from dower, reserved by law to a married woman. . [[Wikipedia: “Changes in family law and inheritance law mirroring trends in the wider society, such as the several Married Woman's Property Acts of the various common law jurisdictions, have generally rendered the legal concept of paraphernalia obsolete.”]]
___________________________

DICTIONARY OF WORD ORIGINS by John Ayto [[noted lexicographer]]

PARAPHERNALIA: In former times, when a woman married, her property was divided into two categories: her dowry, which became the property of her husband, and the rest. It was a measure of the light in which these remaining odds and ends were viewed that by the early 18th century the term paraphernalia had come to be used dismissively for ‘equipment’ or ‘impedimenta [[impedimenta: Objects, such as provisions or baggage, that impede or encumber]]’
___________________________

In the above etymology, what about after the early 18th century? Also, I can see ‘the rest’ being characterized as ‘odds and ends’(see OED below) and I can see how such odds and ends might at one time have been viewed ‘dismissively,’ but not anymore, as far as I know. And the connection to ‘equipment,’ or ‘impedimenta’ seems tenuous.
___________________________

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

PARAPHERNALIA:

1) Law (historical): Articles of personal property, especially clothing and ornaments [[miscellaneous articles]], which (exceptionally at common law) did not automatically transfer from the property of the wife to the husband by virtue of the marriage. In English and Scottish Common law, under which all personal or movable property of a wife was vested ipso jure in the husband, the paraphernalia became restricted to such purely personal belongings of a wife as dress, jewels, and the like [[odds and ends]] . . . .

2) Originally: Items belonging to a particular person, especially articles of dress or adornment; trappings, bits and pieces, accoutrements. Subsequently: the miscellaneous items needed for or associated with a particular activity.
__________________

I think that maybe the OED should have reserved the word ‘originally’ for the historical law definition:

Personal belongings of a wife such as dress, jewels, and the like (historical law)→Items belonging to a particular person (articles of dress or adornment, trappings, bits and pieces, accoutrements)→Miscellaneous items (equipment) a person needs or which are associated with a particular activity — And voila! Well, not quite, but it's my best shot. (<:)

The earliest modern-sounding OED quote that fits the ‘subsequently’ definition in #2 is from 1791, in agreement with the Online Etymology Dictionary. However, one might also say that the ‘thunder and lightning’ of the 1736 quote are items associated with a particular activity – playing a ghost on the stage.

The following quotes are from the Oxford English Dictionary and archived sources:
<1736 “[Thunder and lightning] are indeed properly the Paraphernalia of a Ghost [on the stage].”—Pasquin by H. Fielding, iv. page 49>

<1746 “A Lady whose Paraphanalia fill'd up three Fourths of the Breadth of the principal Walk.”—The British Magazine, page 257> [[#2 - Items belonging to a particular person . . .]]

<1791 “Bridles, saddles, and other equestrian paraphernalia.”—Annals of Horsemanship by ‘G. Gambado, iii. page 12>

<1877 “The long-tasseled student cap on his head, the unnecessary ‘pinchers’ on his nose, and . . . the other traditional paraphernalia of the Norwegian student.”—Tales from Two Hemispheres by H. H. Boysen, page 183>

<1954 “All the paraphernalia that Europeans travel with in India—bedding rolls, ice boxes, . . .”—Bhowani Junction by J. Masters, xxv. Page 210>

<1976 “A curved desk with all the paraphernalia of a busy receptionist.”—The Multiple Man (1977) by B. Bova, vi. page 66>

<1995 “. . . I installed a weight-driven clock in the tower of our parish church. I had no difficulty finding the necessary weights, pulleys and other paraphernalia . . . ”—The Independent (London), 4 January>

<2005 “The Super Bowl boosted sales, particularly in the discount sector [and] led customers to stock up on party goods and football paraphernalia.”—International Herald Tribune, 5 March>

<2013 “Beasley was arrested a month ago in suburban Scottsdale on charges of felony marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.”—Washington Post (D.C.), 4 September>
______________________

Ken – September 5, 2013
Post actions:

Re: paraphernalia

Post by Bobinwales » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:12 pm

Thank you Ken. That makes sense.
Post actions:
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:27 pm

Yes - great work, Ken. It's priceless that you're prepared to distil out the best from the various dictionaries and myriad other sources. And expose the iffy.

It's interesting to see (and useful to have available) the different orderings of senses:

Webster's by frequency of modern occurrences in a database

OED by (believed) primogeniture.
Post actions:

Re: paraphernalia

Post by tony h » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:06 pm

Can I suggest that someone splits this thread into two (if that is possible) because both word deserve a thread to themselves
Post actions:
Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: Paraphernalia

Post by tony h » Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:21 pm

Bobinwales wrote:Apparently "hiraeth" is pronounced hɪəraɪ̯θ. (Hirr ('i' as in 'hill') eith).

"I had to go home to see Mam and Dad. The hiraeth had got too much."
I do have an inexorable feeling that there must be a linguistic relationship between hearth (as in that earth god feeling of hearth and home) and hiraeth. Do you know if there is?

And also of some north european county, I think a Dutch or German, thing where there is a "hearth room" which is the sole of the house and only for family.
Post actions:
Signature: tony

With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

End of topic.
Post Reply