Saturday, March 12, 2011

My finial is filial

When I first opened my door for business, occasionally someone would walk in off the street to ask me to make something for them.   Often this was a bizarre experience because I speak the language of my profession and it‘s foreign to the casual customer.  Undaunted, I would end up drawing things in the shop dust with a scrap of steel or crawling all over the racks and under the tables for examples of what I was talking about.  This makes me sound a lot more graceful than I am.  Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  And yes, I am even less graceful than that.  Anyway, as part of my pig-headed determination to educate the world and, of course, enlighten them all at once, I would use my vocabulary like a club.  What good is it if you can’t beat someone with it?  I would blather on about gauge this and alloy that and ….pa pa patina, and on and on.  Truly, age does have gigantic advantages when it comes to some things.  Reason being primary with ego shrinking running a close second.  Mostly these casual customers would humor me or earnestly try to communicate in my language, but there was one that sticks out in my mind for her dogged determination to ignore my attempt to correct her.  I’m pretty sure that this is because she was using the entirely incorrect word.    

And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

She came in to get a drapery rod for her living room.  If you can believe it, I actually advertised in the Yellow Pages.  Now that I think about it, that’s probably how they all found me.  What she wanted was a rod, some brackets, the appropriate number of rings (I’m told by designers that the number is one for every seven inches of fabric) and, as she put it, a nice pair of filials.  Yep, even spell check knows that’s not right.  . . . . “Okay, so you need a 120” rod (The appropriate diameter to span the distance, of course. ) two brackets,  34 rings and a pair of finials.”  . . .  She said, “Yes and I want the filials to look like leaves.” . . . . . . . . This went on for a while and finally she won.  I gave up and sold her two lovely leaf filials.  

But, as you have probably guessed by now, this got me thinking about the word finial and not to be forgotten filial.  I have begun to wonder if it is possible to have leaf filials or if in fact they would be leaves filials. 
So finial is pretty straight forward.  The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English (I know, it is hard to believe that there are this many dictionaries out there, and that I can find them. ) defines finial as a distinctive ornament at the apex of a roof, pinnacle, canopy, or similar structure in a building or as an ornament at the top, end, or corner of an object as in ornate curtain poles with decorative finials.  Pole, rod, I always mess that up.  The Online Etymology Dictionary says it originated in the mid fifteenth century and was a variant of final.

Filial, on the other hand, does not have anything to do with an apex of any sort.  You know what though, I have no idea what the dictionary means on this one.  It looks like it’s from Latin and also that . . . yeah, I have no idea.  But there is a bit about affiliation.  I like that.  Anyway, filial has to do with sons and daughters in Latin.  My daughters are not Latin so it probably doesn’t apply to them.  I could put the entire definition of filial here with the bit about breast feeding and whence but I figure I’m just going to put the link.

Good luck with that and enjoy.  

I never did find out if it was leaf or leaves filials.  Oh well.

Now back to work……

1 comment:

  1. I would have guessed there's a little Latin in your filiae.