Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Saturday Snapshot #6

Photo by Nikki Dobrowolski

     Now as a photograph, Nikki Dobrowolski's shot of a beaver dam on Huzzy Lake does not rank up there with Ansel Adams' "Moon and Half Dome." Though it does has a certain solemnity and quiet power.
     Rather it was that it was a dam that caught my attention, first, because you just don't see dams much, Hoover notwithstanding. And second, it was a "dam" as opposed to "damn," which you see, or rather hear, all the time, including every day in the name of this blog.
     Which got me playing one of my favorite games: Which usage is older? Dam, the blockage of a body of water, or damn, with that silent "n" creeping in, the condemnation to hell's flame?
    Turns out to be something of a tie.
    The thing that beavers and functioning American governments make goes back at least 700 years, to Old Norse, dammr.
    And the condemnation goes back ... about 700 years, to the Old French damner, meaning to condemn, convict, blame, injure. The Latin damnare, "to adjudge guilty, to doom to condemn," is of course much older, but then the Norse predecessors of dammr could go back far too. Not a lot of written records to help us here.
    Anyway, speaking of beavers, I'm in the Upper Peninsula, with no idea what, how or if I'm going to be able to post anything tomorrow. We'll just have to see. You should be out enjoying this glorious weekend anyway. I sure am.
   

12 comments:

  1. Is a dam in a lake really a dam?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A beaver's house is a dam no matter where it's built.

      Delete
    2. I thought a beaver lived in a lodge, separate from the dam.

      Delete
    3. The internet is your friend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaver_dam

      Delete
    4. I liked both your photos, Nikki!

      Delete
    5. Indeed. The photo is a beaver lodge.

      Delete
    6. Thanks Coey! I got a bit mixed up w dam and lodge distinction, forgot some of my Attenborough lessons, probably in the sun too much. That area is a fairly recent shallow cove w many submerged trees that have fallen, so it seems as if the beaver dam did its job and made a nice habitat for the lodge there.

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the etymology. The distinction has always lurked in the back of my mind waiting for an opportunity to look into. Now I know.

    john

    ReplyDelete
  3. Electronic communications are much better then even a few years ago. Most places have connections unless you are in the deep woods; and even then you can be surprised. The UP is one of my favorite places...

    ReplyDelete
  4. This has been really fun seeing my photos posted. Thank you. I hope you have a great time in the U.P. Little thing, you did put an e in my name that doesn't belong.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Whoops -- typo. Fixed now. Apologies. The hazard of not reading what you've written.

      Delete

Thank you for your comment, which will be published at the discretion of the proprietor.