Ireland has a curious expression whereby this weather is used to mean “these days”. It normally occurs at the end of a clause or sentence, though it doesn’t have to. It’s a very colloquial phrase, more often heard than seen. But it appears sometimes in speechlike prose, such as these examples from the Irish chatroom boards.ie:
(1) He’s a sad man this weather.
(2) what coolant temp are you logging this weather?
(3) Wouldn’t imagine their stock was exactly flying out the door this weather.
(4) Hi, anyone else struggling with tacky paint this weather?
This weather meaning these days is an expression I’ve used most of my life, but I hadn’t really thought about it until I saw a tweet from Warren Maguire (whom some of you may remember from a post here last year on his survey of accents):
(Tyrone, if you’re wondering, is a large county in Northern Ireland.) Another linguist, Pavel Iosad, drew connections with other Celtic languages:
I added a note to the effect that the phrase was not limited to Tyrone but was also used in counties Galway and Mayo in the west of Ireland. It may well have informal currency all over the island, as it seems to come from the Irish word aimsir /ˈæmʃɪɾʲ/, which can refer to both weather and time.
As a child I learned aimsir principally in the “weather” sense, with am meaning “time” in most cases. But aimsir meaning “time” is apparent in many Irish phrases, such as le haimsir “with time”, and caitheamh aimsire “pastime” (literally spending time). Aimsir is also the Irish word for grammatical tense.
MacBain’s Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language has an entry on aimsir that suggests a possible development from am:
time, so Irish; Old Irish amser, Welsh amser, Breton amzer, possibly a Celtic ammesserâ; either a compound of am, time (ammensîrâ, from sîr, long?), or amb-mensura, root mens, measure, Latin mensus, English measure. Ascoli and Stokes give the Celtic as ád-messera, from ad-mensura.
Either way, it seems the temporal sense came first, then the weather-related one. I suspect a connection with farming, given the deep relationship between agricultural and seasonal rhythms – or maybe it’s not so specific, and emerged simply as a result of the correspondence between weather and time of year. I’d welcome your ideas.
Warren Maguire, meanwhile, would like to know if this weather = these days “is found in any English varieties that haven’t been in contact with Irish/Scottish Gaelic”. Jeffrey L. Kallen, in his chapter on Irish English in Englishes Around the World, says this sense of weather is “not found elsewhere”, but do let us know if there’s anything like it in your dialect.