Minding Some "P's"
Still More "P's"
Lord of the Flies I
Lord of the Flies II
Caponiere to Yapp
Some "F" Words I
Some "F" Words II
What the "H" I
H Words VII
H Words VIII
H Words IX
H Words X
Sublime To.. II
Saturday Words I
Saturday Words II
Saturday Words III
2009 Kids Bee I
2009 Kids Bee II
2009 Kids Bee III
2009 Kids Bee IV
A Saturday Stew I
Bill Long 12/13/08
The weather is cold today in the NW; we need some tea and some stew. While the latter is heating up, let's mix together some words into a savory hotchpot or lobscouse or haricot that will nourish and warm. Of concern here and the next essay will be thrawart, madeleine, klewang, klepht, kletterschuh, haredization and various words built off of cochlea.
1. There are approximately 3X the number of attestations of thrawart in a Google search as of thraward. Thus, it is not unusual that the OED chooses the latter as its chief spelling for this word. The origin of this Scottish word seems to be in fraward, a variant of froward, and, along with froward, means "disposed to turn aside from the proper way; refractory; perverse; adverse." The OED says that thrawart is perhaps also derived from the verb thraw, which is an earlier form of "throw" but also means "to turn, twist, turn awry, contort." Thus, something that is thrawn is distorted, turned awry, twisted. I like to think of thrawart, then, as something thrown awry--both words are almost there in thrawart. So, I like to think of thraward and froward as synonyms, with the former emphasizing the "action" that leads to the refractory behavior. Some people are just "thrown awry" by nature, it seems, while others solemnly choose their course. "The teacher tried, without success, to curb his thrawart behavior."
2. You just have to stop and ponder the way that literature shapes language when you look at madeleine. A madeleine is a traditional cake from Commercy, a commune of the Meuse departement in NE France. Here is a picture of the cake. Note the distinctive ribbed, fluted or shell-shaped surface. The madeleine, like most French pastries, is delicious. But the reason I write on madeleine here is because for Marcel Proust, in his massive A la recherche, the experience of eating a madeleine triggered childhood memories. In vol. 1 of that work, entitled Swann's Way, he says:
"And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine..my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of..tea."
Thus, a madeleine is a type of something that strongly evokes memories or nostalgia. A whiff of smoke, a landscape painting, a sound heard while walking--anything can be a madeleine for us, the effect of which, as Proust says, was to make him shudder:
"No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place…at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory…"
Thus, we can have pictorial madeleines, musical madeleines, etc.
For some reason, when studying the madeleine, I ran across the notion of a dariole mold. This has nothing to do with what is in your closet after not being cleaned for a generation; it is a small, cylindrical metal cup designed for individual portions of food, such as mashed potato or rice pilaf. Here is a description, and here is a picture.
3. A klewang is a single-edged Indonesian sword. Though there are 30X more attestations for the spelling of it as klewang than as kleywang, the OED's stubbornly clings to kleywang. Here is a great picture of the klewang, with an ugly-looking tip to it, seemingly calculated to do the maximum damage. Note that the blade, unlike most sword blades, tapers towards the hilt rather than the blade. The web site just linked says the following about it:
"It was used by the Iranun people of Sabah, a Malaysian state in north Borneo. Historically the Iranun (known as Illanun during the British colonial period), were regarded as the fiercest pirates in the Malay world."
So much about the world we don't know.... Here is some information on the history of the Iranun.
4. When we turn to klepht, we still are dealing with conflict, but klepht refers to Greek people who first fought against the Turks in the 15th century and refused to submit. Then, after the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, the term became associated with those who refused to join the independent country. Thus, what might have at first been seen as an act of patriotism then was seen as an act of brigandage. Thus, a klepht is a brigand or bandit. It all depends on who is writing the history, doesn't it?
5. I couldn't leave this essay without a word about kletterschuh, the German word for a "cloth or felt-soled light boot worn esp. for rock-climbing." The only appearances of it in pictures online are with other German shoeware, on German language pages, which leads to the question of why this particular German shoe is now an English word while shoes like the Alpinstiefel, Bergschuhe, and Gummistiefel have never made it into English. Perhaps it is because rock-climbing has been a favorite pastime in America and we developed no easy term for "rock-climbing boots." I think also the technology of the kletterschuh, pictured here, is so different from the "hiking boot" that we just had to accept the German word. Here is an article on this shoe, which literally means the "clambering shoe..."
As usual, not much progress today--but that means there is always another essay.