Enhancing Shower Activity

Last night, on the Shipping Forecast, we were advised that an advancing weather front would result in ‘enhancing shower activity’ (i.e. more rain). Usually, such gobbledegook leaves me muttering about plain English and doing a fairly good impression of Colonel Blimp. Not this time. I was entranced by a vision of raindrops dancing across the grey waters of the North Sea, shimmering and shining with all the colours of the rainbow as light pierced the gloom. It was the word ‘enhanced’ that got me. I know its ordinary meaning is just to intensify or increase (in + altus in Latin, meaning to elevate, via a complicated path in Norman French) but that is to ignore its sound; and to go from enhancing to dancing is a good instance of how words affect us at many different levels, not all of them subject to logical analysis. That is why poetry matters; why translation is such a difficult art; why the Word made flesh makes even the most garrulous of us dumb with wonder, love and praise.

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