mollyringle

In the US we call it "fall" rather than "autumn" AND THAT'S FINE.

Now that it's fall in the US, let's examine this little meme. And let's ideally stop sharing it because it's ignorant. I shall explain.

Picture of autumn foliage with text: "UK: We call it autumn from the Latin word autumnus. US: We call it fall because leaves fall down."
Picture of autumn foliage with text: "UK: We call it autumn from the Latin word autumnus. US: We call it fall because leaves fall down."

You know me, so you know I ran a search on the Oxford English Dictionary. Results:

"Fall" is a very old English word, and "fall" to mean "autumn" was originally used in Britain as far back as the 1500s and continuing on into the 1800s:

"...now to be subiect vnto summer, nowe vnto winter, now to the sprynge, and nowe to the falle." - John Hooper, bishop of Gloucester and Worcester; 'Godly Confession,' circa 1550

"...leaves...becoming yellow at the fall, do commonly clothe it all the winter." - John Evelyn, English writer; 'Sylva,' 1664

"She has been bled and purged, spring and fall." - Sir Walter Scott, 'Malachi Malagrowther,' 1826

OED says at the start of the entry: "Although common in British English in the 16th century, by the end of the 17th century 'fall' had been overtaken by 'autumn' as the primary term for this season. In early North American use both terms were in use, but 'fall' had become established as the more usual term by the early 19th century."

It also says that it is "a shortening of earlier 'fall of the leaf'." Similarly, "spring" was short for "spring of the leaf," so if you don't make fun of "spring," leave "fall" alone too.

So I think what this meme really means to say is:

BRITAIN: we call it fall because leaf fall down—hang on, no, we must appear more arbitrarily classical-language-oriented than those uppity colonials, so let's use a snotty Latinate word instead. Autumn! It's autumn from now on!

My fellow Americans, stop letting Brits make you feel bad about your vocabulary. Brits...stop being snobs about the language.

Also, looking down upon another dialect, as a general rule, is nearly always rooted in classism, racism, and/or xenophobia. All dialects are equally valid. Repeat: all dialects are equally valid.

*holds up my linguistics degree*
*gives you the “don’t challenge me on this” look*

(Let me be clear: there are plenty of reasons to be embarrassed about America, but let's at least pick ACCURATE ones. 😉 )

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