1.2.3. Water in your culture

Course subject(s) 1. Dip your toes in the water: What are the spatial, social and cultural dimensions of water systems?

Water is part of our culture in multiple ways, including our language. Historical practices that are no longer in use have shaped our words, and live on as metaphors or proverbs in our various languages.

An example of this in English is the word eavesdropper, which nowadays means a person who is secretly overhearing other peoples’ conversation. This Middle English word started off referring to the rainwater that dropped from the eaves of a house with a sloping roof. Later on, it came to mean the place right next to the wall, where that water landed. Eventually, eavesdropper described someone who stood within the eavesdrop of a house to overhear a conversation inside. Now that houses in England tend to have gutters to catch the rainwater, the eavesdrop doesn’t really exist anymore, but the term eavesdropper remains.

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Water Works: Activating Heritage for Sustainable Development by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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