Snow PicSometimes it is necessary to borrow a phrase from another country to enrich one’s life in this one. Nothing illustrates this point more than the English expression, “the pleasure ground,” as a substitute for yard or lawn.

I did a little research on this subject and discovered that the idea of uniformly kept lawns in suburbia is unique to the U.S.A. It seems that in our enthusiasm for democracy we thought neighborhoods should share the same look, from one lot to the next, like one long continuous park. Equality, in other words. But sometimes equality is boring.

Yard + lawn = yawn.

Across the pond they see things differently. The English take more ownership of their lot, front and back, referring to it as “the pleasure ground.” And as lots become smaller in the cities, each square foot is considered all the more precious.

Growing a hedge or erecting a wall around one’s lot helps realize one’s dream, whether it be a kitchen or cutting garden, raising hens, or creating a green oasis of privacy and quiet. In other words it’s your land to do what you want, and the English have always embraced that concept.

The second phrase may be more about semantics than anything else, but the words we choose to use help shape our feelings. Americans are obsessed with taking vacations. That must be because we are obsessed with work. Again, when the English travel, they refer to it as being “on holiday.” It doesn’t have to be a recognized holiday. It’s simply an  expression of pleasure.

That is how I want to see it too, as being “on holiday,” be it a long distance trip, a weekend in the country, or an afternoon spent in my own pleasure ground.


Filed under semantics

7 responses to “Semantics

  1. Craig Kelly

    I will never look the same way at my yawn.

    • A distinguished retired plant pathologist in my writing workshop this morning gave me the word I’ve been looking for: “pleasance.” English, 14th c., meaning a place of pleasure usually attached to the manor.
      (In all the pictures I see, that’s what yours looks like to me, a pleasance.)

  2. Omg, you’ve just helped me to understand my husband’s obsession with our “pleasure ground”, and the need for tall planter boxes (hedges) to border it! Thank you.

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