New nature word! COTONEASTER

Well, more of a new pronunciation. When I moved to this spot I was told the hedge around the front was “Cotton-Easter,” invoking images of fuzzy bunnies and colourful egg-laden baskets – rich fertility symbols from days of yore. I named the place “Cotoneaster Cove,” for its protective U shaped hedge.

Cotoneaster Cove

Cotoneaster Cove

When I first moved from pavement-bound downtown to here, I felt so tree-deprived that when I looked out the  window at this tangle of bare branches I felt relief – as if my neurons were tangibly growing and connecting, stirring old, dusty connections from my youth.

I was surprised recently to learn that people saying “cot-oh’-nee aster” were talking about the very same plant! I don’t know if I’ve ever met a word so transformed by where you divide the syllables. Turning to my old friend, the online OED (thanks EPL!) I find that it is a European plant, and the name is plain old modern botanical Latin: “cotonia” for quince, plus “aster,” which makes my “new” odd-sounding pronunciation understandable. So strange to have my home’s name altered so dramatically in one fell swoop!


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