|Titanic memorial in Belfast|
Yesterday a nice young man knocked on my door and asked if he might look for a monument in my back yard. Since my garden is quite bereft of statuary, I thought, "Good luck with that!" but let him through.
And lo! After some digging and waving around of a metal detector (I was so hoping he would find some hidden treasure), he found the monument! But it was a very unprepossessing square iron peg buried under my fence.
I learned a meaning of "monument" that I didn't know before. The young man was a surveyor, and it has a specific meaning in surveying of "a marker of a property boundary". It has had that meaning since the 1650s!
At least my surveyor didn't find in my garden a monument in the Scottish sense of "A ridiculous or objectionable person or thing; a laughing-stock, a fool, a rogue."
"Monument", which came into English in the 1300s, is derived from classical Latin monumentum, monimentum commemorative statue or building, tomb, from monēre to remind, which is also the root of "admonish", "monitor" and even "summon".