Weathered pagodas and stretching times

Picture of a pagoda

The word for weather in Russian is погода (pogoda) [pɐˈɡodə], which sounds more or less like pagoda in English.

The English word pagoda, which refers to an Asian religious building, especially a multistory Buddhist tower, comes from Portuguese pagode, which comes via Tamil from the Sanskrit भगवती ‎(Bhagavatī, name of a goddess) or भागवत ‎(Bhāgavata, “follower of Bhagavatī”).

In French the words for weather, temps, also means time and tense, and comes from the Latin tempus (time, period, age, tense, weather), from the Proto-Indo-European *tempos ‎(stretch), from the root *temp- ‎(to stetch, string), which is also the root of the English word tempest, via the Latin tempestas ‎(storm), and the English word tense.

Breton also has one word for time and weather – amzer, which comes from the Proto-Celtic *amsterā ‎(time, moment), which is also the root of the Irish aimsir (weather, time and tense), the Manx emshir (weather, time and tense) and the Scottish Gaelic aimsir (climate, weather, season, era, time, reign), the Welsh amser (time, age, tense), and the Cornish amser (tense).

Sources:, Wiktionary

I’ve started putting together a new section on Omniglot featuring weather-related words and phrases. So far I have pages in Czech, Russian and Welsh.

In the UK we talk about the weather quite a bit. It’s (usually) a neutral and uncontroversial topic, and while some people are genuinely fascinated by it, for most of us it’s just a way to start a conversation. Do people do this is other countries? Or do you use of topics as conversation starters?

3 thoughts on “Weathered pagodas and stretching times

  1. The American joke is that everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.

  2. I think the notion that if you want to make small talk with someone you don’t know, you should talk about the weather, is international. But I think of it as a joke, because it’s a boring subject and because it’s a cliche.

  3. One of the few phrases that sticks in my mind from my Russian language class is “какая плохая погода”, precisely because of the image it evoked of people tut-tutting over inferior Chinese architecture.

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