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Posted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 6:27 pm
by Bobinwales
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)?

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:07 am
by tony h
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.

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:01 am
by Bobinwales
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!"

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:02 pm
by tony h
So how do you pronounce it and use it in an (english) sentance?

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:53 pm
by Phil White
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.

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:19 pm
by Erik_Kowal
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?

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:13 pm
by Bobinwales
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."

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:24 am
by Ken Greenwald
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.


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.



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

Re: paraphernalia

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:12 pm
by Bobinwales
Thank you Ken. That makes sense.

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:27 pm
by Edwin F Ashworth
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.

Re: paraphernalia

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:06 pm
by tony h
Can I suggest that someone splits this thread into two (if that is possible) because both word deserve a thread to themselves

Re: Paraphernalia

Posted: Sun Sep 08, 2013 12:21 pm
by tony h
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.

Re: paraphernalia

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:35 pm
by tony h

Re: paraphernalia

Posted: Tue May 01, 2018 1:22 pm
by Bobinwales
Thanks Tony. I hadn't heard of that one although I do know a couple of the actors.

Re: paraphernalia

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 6:32 am
by Wizard of Oz
Wizards might I, especially with permission from Bob, add my research into HIARETH. It has been suggested that the difference between the Welsh language and the English language boils down to the fact that Wales is a romantic land of bards, poets and seers, while English is spoken by accountants in suits.

HIRAETH (Welsh) – Intense happiness at a love that was, and a sadness that it is gone. To the Welsh the broader, more all-consuming love that a Welshman has for Wales, its valleys, its craggy coastline, its language, its poetry and its history. It is more than homesickness. When Bryn Terfel sings of the welcome kiss you will receive in the valleys when you return to Wales he also promises it will banish your hiareth. Coming home will assuage the longing you felt. This is not entirely true as hiareth is more; a longing for unobtainable past times. The time of Llwelyn ap Gruffydd or the time of Owain Glyndwr or the time when Wales was a free nation.

The hiareth of love for a person is not simply a bunch of flowers. It is the flowers still wet with dew that you have picked in the field to bring to your love, to that person. It means, “I long for you deep in my soul; I long for the way we were, for the things we did together, the places we went, the dreams that we shared – and that we may share no more.” The English version would be, “Wish you were here”.

Other languages have similar words.

SUADADE (Portuguese) – The sense of wistful melancholy experienced when reflecting on lost love. This is not confined to a person. The 17th century soldier-poet, Francisco Manuel de Melo described it as, “The pleasure you suffer, the pain you enjoy. The love that is left behind.”

HYGGE (Danish) – The emotional warmth created by being with good friends and well-loved family. The idea that hygge gets you through the winter, they say, but it’s more than that – it gets you through life. It is specifically about the “the reassuring emotional warmth, comfort and security that comes from being with good friends or family.” It is something you feel and you aim to create and return to.

I know this feeling. It sometimes comes upon you and you don’t necessarily realise its appearance. My wife told me that when I was in Scotland it was the most relaxed and destressed she has ever seen me. I know I felt as if everything would be OK and I would know what to do. I saw places that I felt had always been a part of me. I felt comfortable and well and able to do anything.

(Source: The Greeks Had a Word For It: and the Russians and the Japanese and the Dutch., Andrew Taylor, Bantam Press. ISBN 9780593075715)

WoZ in Aus
Wondering if his kilt still fits him.