With winter marching relentlessly upon us, Collected Wisdom turns its thoughts to the balmy days of summer. And not just to the days, to the months as well.
Why are only April, May and June used for naming girls? Why not other months? asks Louise Lang of Toronto.
While we received several comments on this from readers, nobody really came up with a suggestion as to why this should be. CW does have its own theory, however, and, with your indulgence, we'll present it.
April, May and June are all months with very positive associations because they fall in the spring and early summer. But they are not the only months associated with girls' names.
Julia, the female form of Julius, has a link to the month of July. In 44 BC, the Roman month of Quintilis was renamed Julius (July) in honour of Julius Caesar following his reform of the Roman calendar. In 8 BC, the month of Sextilis was renamed Augustus (August) in honour of Augustus Caesar. The female form of Augustus is Augusta.
So we also have Julia and Augusta - associated with summer months, evoking positive images of fine weather.
After the warmth of August fades, however, this naming trend comes to an abrupt halt. It's pretty hard to find a girl named for the autumnal or wintry months of September, October, November, December, January, February or March.
One notable exception, as several readers pointed out, is January Jones of the hit TV series Mad Men. According to the Internet Movie Database, January is Ms. Jones's real moniker. She was named after the character January Wayne in Jacqueline Susann's 1973 novel Once Is Not Enough.
We are told that the retreating glaciers carved out the Great Lakes 10,000 years ago, writes Bob McCulloch of Walkerton, Ont. Why did they not create similar lakes on the Prairies?
"The Great Lakes of Canada are a spectacular region," writes Robert Young, an associate professor of physical geography at the University of British Columbia, "but not unique in that many features of the regional geology and erosion responsible for their formation are also found far to the north and the west."
He says the Great Lakes exist at the edge of the Canadian Shield, where gently dipping bedrock of varying types has been eroded. "The varying rocks eroded at different rates, so that large basins developed that later filled to become lakes."
He explains that similar local geology, with slightly different structural forms, has caused numerous other lakes on the rim of the Canadian Shield. Lakes such as Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg, Lake Athabasca, Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake are all part of the complex of great lakes. "However," he says, "because the Prairies are a plain over a vast sedimentary basin composed of rock types that are different from the Canadian Shield and its boundary rocks, the lake basins can't form there."
Why is it that cat food comes in many flavours (beef, chicken, lamb, fish and seafood), but never pork? Mike Curtis of Vancouver wants to know.
Canadian car commercials sometimes say "U.S. model shown." Steve Hayman of Toronto wants to know why. "Is that car different from the one we can buy?"
"Olympic running distances are 100, 200, 400 and 800 metres," writes Bill Moore of Winnipeg. "You would expect the next distance to be 1,600 metres. How did the more awkward 1,500 metres get chosen?"
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