If I talk of a plan, then probably there will be certain things that come to mind. You may wonder if I am scheduling something, perhaps I have the intention to do something, you may think in terms of Plan A, Plan B.
But that is not how it started out. In fact, the first recorded instance of plan meaning ‘scheme of action’ was in 1706. Before that, it was generally used to mean ‘drawing, sketch, diagram’. Its modern sense may have developed out of the idea of drawing a diagram of what one intended to do.
Going back to the late 1600s, plan was a technical term in perspective drawing; it didn’t take long for that sense to expand to include other forms of drawing. But originally it didn’t have anything to do with drawing at all.
It came into English from French plan, where it meant ‘map’ and also ‘ground plan’. But the word does not stop there in its passage through time. French adapted it from planum, a Latin term meaning ‘level, flat surface’. And how did this come to mean map or drawing?
If we think of our action when drawing, we can easily find the answer. We put our paper down on a flat surface and draw. And what is a map if not a flat representation of the ground?
Can we find an earlier source for planum? We can indeed! It comes from Proto-Indo-European root *pla-no, itself a form of the root *pele, meaning ‘broad, flat’ and also ‘spread out’ – it is flatter to spread things out than to heap them in piles.
There are a number of descendants of this word in various Indo-European languages, ranging from Lithuanian plonas, meaning ‘thin’, Old Slavonic polje, which translates as ‘flat land, field’, to Old English and Old High German feld, meaning field, among others.
While we are on the subject of planning, let’s look at something that combines our sense of drawing, putting things down on paper, with the modern sense of schedule and intend to do something.
Jump Mag has produced a fabulous new planner for 2016, and I have had a sneak preview and the chance to test it out. It contains useful features that personally I’ve always wanted on a planner or diary, such as a specially designated place to write your shopping list. I don’t know about you, but I have often thought of something that I need to buy while I’m out, but not shopping, and then forgotten it. Not only that, but the planner has a mealplan section, so you can make your shopping list as you decide on each meal.
Each day has a separate box marked ‘kids’ – it usually ends up filled with their various activities, things going on at school, or that have to be remembered for school, like “Take in gauzy material” or “trip to olive mill, need bus money”.
But for me, one feature that I really love is the space to note down special memories. How often have things happened that have left a mark, and you really wish you had somewhere to note them down? It’s a great idea.