or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


In the comments to today's posting, Frank says, "I've never heard the word 'humidex.' I like it!"

I do, too. The language needed a quick way of saying "The temperature is X, but it's so damned humid that it really feels like Y, and if I don't find some air conditioning soon I'm going to kill someone", and now we have one. It's a Canadian thing, as far as I know. Wikipedia seems to think so, anyway: "In Canada the term humidex is used for the heat index developed by Environment Canada", which is responsible for meteorological forecasts, among other things.

Now we need them to come up with a snappy one-word term for "wind chill", although that's not really such a bad term; short, descriptive, not exactly poetic but serviceable. (The French term is, as one might expect, much more syllabic and rather elegant: "réfroidissiment aeolien".)


Blogger Frank said...

For once, you Canucks have the right idea! (Just kidding, of course!) We Yanks use "heat index" to describe what the temperature feels like when the humidity is added in, but I think humidex is better.

I don't think wind chill needs to be cut down. Like you said, it serves its purpose rather nicely. The French term is a bit... long (though I'm sure you don't pronounce half of the letters), but I do like the "aeolian" part. It's so classically allusive!

Thursday, July 21, 2005 2:04:00 AM  
Blogger pyramus said...

French is a very wordy language. If you compare English and French texts, you'll find that the French occupies up to forty percent more room on the page. And you're generally right about not pronouncing letters in that language, but the "wind chill" term gets nearly all of them: "ray-frwah-dee-see-mon ee-oh-lee-en", approximately. (You don't pronounce the last letter in the first word, and the last letter in the second word is sort of a ghost of an en, just a place marker.)

"Aeolian" is nice, isn't it? It still hangs around in English in the term "aeolian harp", one played by the wind rather than by human hands, but I suppose it's on its way out as fewer and fewer people have anything like a classical education. (Not that I do; most of the allusions in, say, eighteenth-century English poetry that would have been understood by any well-educated person are lost on me without some serious research. But I know who Aeolus was!)

Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:32:00 AM  

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