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Story of a word:Harvest

9 月 23 日是廿四節氣中的秋分。當天香港氣溫約為 32 度,一點秋分的感覺也沒有。

「秋分已經過了,為甚麼香港還是這麼炎熱呢?」她說。

「你有沒有想過,廿四節氣為甚麼總是和我們的實際體驗相距甚遠?」他說。

「因為全球暖化?」她說。

「那是原因之一。」他補充。「另一個原因,是廿四節氣是以北方的標準來計算的,如果根據香港的南方氣候調整,要到十月才入秋,也不是甚麼奇怪的事。」

「耐心等一下吧。秋天即使遲到,也從來不會缺席。」他說。

那時她沒有把這番話放在心上,只不過踏入十月中,天氣真的有變涼的跡象。時間來到10月8日,廿四節氣中的寒露。傳統上,寒露象徵深秋已經來臨,天氣由涼爽轉為寒冷,即將迎接第一場雪。

雖然和落雪有一大段距離,但寒露過後,香港開始有點秋天的感覺。

她在看書時偶然發現,要到十四世紀 Autumn 這個詞語才開始出現,而它本意就是拉丁文中的「天氣開始轉涼」;大概 300 年後,Fall 這個字才正式登場,原因是當時的詩人流行以「落葉」(The Fall of the Leaf)來借代秋天。久而久之,Fall 便得到了秋天的意思。

一般認為, Autumn 屬於英式英文,而 Fall 則是美式英文。有人說,美國人喜歡後者,是因為 Fall 發音和拼法都比較簡單,更符合他們直率豪邁的性格。大家總喜歡說墮入愛河,英文就是 Fall in Love,難怪有人說,秋天是戀愛的季節。

那麼,在 Autumn 發明之前,人們究竟是怎樣稱呼秋天?原來,英語中最早用來表示秋天的詞語,既不是 Autumn,也不是 Fall,而是 Harvest,因為秋天是收穫的季節。在中文,秋字的部首是禾,也和農業有關。

對農民來說,將秋天和收穫聯想在一起是很平常的事,只是後來愈來愈多人到城市定居,Harvest 這個稱呼便漸漸被遺忘。時至令日,只有少數歐洲語言如德文和荷蘭文中,仍保留着 Harvest 的痕跡。

這個小發現,讓她對秋天多了一層想像。她幻想,從前的人生活在一個大自然包圍的小村落,在春天播種,然後每天耕種,不能急於收成;耐心等待過後,大家在收穫的季節約定慶祝,好好回顧過去一年下過的苦功。

即使現代人再也沒有在土地裏種下甚麼,我們在日常生活中的每個行動,都會不自覺埋下種子,例如人與人之間,或是在工作過程之中。微小的種子,日後都會變成意想不到的後果。

秋天是收穫的季節。只要默默耕耘,深耕細作,總會等到收成的一天。假如你的秋分仍然未到,請你耐心守候,收穫的季節即使遲到,也從來不會缺席。

On the date of 23th September, it was the autumnal equinox of the 24 solar terms. On that day, the temperature in Hong Kong was about 32 degrees, and there was no sign of autumn at all.

“The autumnal equinox has passed, why is Hong Kong still so hot?” she said.

“Have you ever wondered why the 24 solar terms are always so different from our actual experience?” he said.

“Because of global warming?” she said.

“That’s one of the reasons,” he added. “Another reason is that the 24 solar terms are calculated according to the northern standard. If it is adjusted according to the southern climate in Hong Kong, it is not surprising that autumn is not arriving until October.”

“Just be patient. Autumn may arrive later, but it will never be absent,” he said.

At that time, she didn’t take those words to heart, but in the middle of October, the weather started getting cooler. On 8th October, that was the cold dew in the 24 solar terms. Traditionally, it symbolizes the arrival of late autumn, when the weather gets much colder, and the first snow is about to begin.

Although it is far away from snowing, after the cold dew, Hong Kong begins to feel a little bit more like autumn.

While reading a book randomly, she stumbled across that the word autumn did not appear until the 14th century, and autumn originally means “the weather is getting colder” in Latin; about 300 years later, the word fall finally appeared, because it is popular to refer to autumn as “The Fall of the Leaf” by the poet at that time. Over time, the meaning of fall became identical to autumn.

Generally speaking, autumn is British English, while fall is American English. Some people say that Americans like the latter because the pronunciation and spelling of fall is simpler, which is more suitable for American style. People like to say “Fall in Love”, no wonder some people say that autumn is the season of love.

So what exactly did people call autumn before the word was invented? It turns out that the earliest word used to express autumn in English is neither autumn nor fall, but harvest, because autumn is a season of harvest. In Chinese, the radical of the word autumn is also related to agriculture.

It was common for farmers to associate autumn with harvest, but as more and more people settled in cities, the name harvest was gradually forgotten. To this day, only a few European languages, such as German and Dutch, still retain traces of the meaning of harvest.

This little discovery sparked her imagination towards autumn. She started to imagine: in the past, people lived in a small village surrounded by nature. They planted seeds in the spring, and then plowed every day. They could not rush to harvest. After waiting patiently, everyone would celebrate the harvest season and review their hard work they had done in the past year.

Even if modern people never plant anything in the land, every action we take in our daily life will plant seeds unconsciously, such as when we are meeting different people, or even at  work. Tiny seeds can turn into unintended harvest later on.

Autumn is the season of harvest. As long as you work hard, you can always look forward to the day of harvest. If your autumn has not yet arrived, please be patient. The season of harvest may arrive later, but it will never be absent.

Storyteller:@thomas.is.writing

Illustrator:YanYu Lee, Yuki @iamyylee

〖關於插畫師Yan Yu Lee, Yuki〗

香港插畫師Yan Yu Lee, Yuki,2017年畢業於英國倫敦藝術大學 Camberwell College of Arts 插畫系。2021年完成劍橋藝術學院插畫與圖書藝術碩士學位後,在香港及英國兩地從事插畫相關工作。Yuki 擅長使用細膩的紋理和細節描繪作品,製作具有手繪質感與溫度的插畫。

Yan Yu Lee is an illustrator born and raised in Hong Kong, currently working between HK and UK. She graduated in BA illustration from Camberwell College of Arts in 2017 and later completed an MA in Illustration and Book Arts at Cambridge School of Art. She has a strong interest in portraiture, with illustrations that balance minimal silhouette with delicate tactile textures. Although she draw digitally in her latest illustrations, her work all have a hand-drawn quality to them.

👉 選購 Yuki 的絲印及 Risograph 作品

◇ Ztorytheme -〖秋天 𝔸𝕦𝕥𝕦𝕞𝕟〗

說起秋天,你會想起什麼?是悲傷還是浪漫、是結束還是收穫⋯⋯

其實,好故事就像落葉一樣俯拾皆是,讓我們從不同角度感受秋天吧。ZtoryTeller 希望百花枯萎、乾燥腐爛的味道,令你傷感之餘多情,收穫美麗的人和事,做好準備一起過冬。

#StoryOfaWord #Ztorytheme #ZtorythemeHarvest 

#Ztorytheme秋天 #ZtorythemeAutumn

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