Usage Mangling Time (UMT)

All this time I thought the hour went into a bank to be spent later! A dearly demented friend sent me an explanation this morning (CST):

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time.

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Similar examples would be dog walking time or book reading time. Since saving is a verb describing a single type of activity, the form is singular.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an 's') flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, but it is not as politically desirable.

My earliest association with Daylight Savings Time is with catching fireflies in mayonaise jars in the backyard. An evening spent catching lightning bugs in a jar would be a Light Savings Time. We thought the fireflies would be bedtime nightlights. Those easy-going barefoot twilights might have been early in Nebraska's standardized application of DST. I don't know, but President Lyndon Johnson signed The Uniform Time Act into law in 1966. Maybe what this country needs now is a Uniform Marshmallow Roasting Act.

Marshmallow is commonly misspelled marshmellow. Nice idea, but wrong. The Online Etymology Dictionary reports:

O.E. mersc-mealwe "kind of mallow plant (Althea officinalis) which grows near salt marshes." The confection was originally (1884) made from paste from the roots of this plant.

"Althea" is one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. Check out The Annotated "Althea". May it chase the Little Drummer Boy, Rummy, and Cheney right out of your head. Here are the lyrics:

I told Althea I was feeling lost
Lacking in some direction
Althea told me upon scrutiny
my back might need protection

I told Althea that treachery
was tearin me limb from limb
Althea told me: now cool down boy -
settle back easy Jim

You may be Saturday's child all grown
moving with a pinch of grace
You may be a clown in the burying ground
or just another pretty face
You may be the fate of Ophelia
sleeping and perchance to dream -
honest to the point of recklessness
self centered to the extreme

Ain't nobody messin with you but you
your friends are getting most concerned -
loose with the truth
maybe it's your fire
but baby...don't get burned
When the smoke has cleared, she said,
that's what she said to me:
You're gonna want a bed to lay your head
and a little sympathy

There are things you can replace
and others you cannot
The time has come to weigh those things
this space is getting hot -
you know this space is getting hot

I told Althea I'm a roving sign -
that I was born to be a bachelor -
Althea told me: Ok that's fine -
So now I'm out trying to catch her

Can't talk to me without talking to you
We're guilty of the same old thing
Talking a lot about less and less
And forgetting the love we bring

Words by Robert Hunter; music by Jerry Garcia.

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