Worm-channered posts

Worm-channered posts

This suggests woodworm tunneled posts and I imagine that ‘channered’ refers to the tiny channels they carve on the surface of it. This possible channel-like definition is further reinforced by another example in the same book: ‘The trickles in the...
Couiner

Couiner

In this double-whammy week of French gloire, Bastille Day plus World Cup victoire, a half dozen proudly round sounding ooohh French words which have been playing in my ears since I stumbled upon them. First, a few onomatopoeic verbs and nouns, starting with...
Chuchoter

Chuchoter

What a lovely sh-sh-sh quiet whispering sound, meaning, indeed, ‘to whisper’.  A whisper is ‘un chuchotement’, and a whispered conversation is ‘une chuchoterie’. The whisperer, as in horses, is ‘un chuchoteur’ or...
Chuinter

Chuinter

To hoot (as in owl) or to hiss (as in snake).  ‘Chuintant’ is hushing, and ‘un chuintement’ is a hoot or a hiss. Another word for an owl’s hooting is closer to the English: hululer. See also ‘couiner’ and...
Roucouler

Roucouler

The second syllable has the clue, here is how to bill and coo… This soft word can mean to whisper sweet nothings, or if you’re less sentimental, you can use it to dismiss a singer as a mere crooner.  It can also evoke the cooing of a bird. The business of...
Roudoudou

Roudoudou

A wonderful word for a hard sweet or candy.  Put one in your mouth and then try saying ‘roudoudou’ five times. Second thoughts, better not, we mustn’t be choking on our words. The dictionary doesn’t give the plural, so may I ask French friends...
Boursoufler

Boursoufler

A word that rolls into its roundness the sound of blowing (‘souffler’), conveying something of its meaning: to swell, puff up, or in the case of paint, to blister. It can also be a reflexive verb, ‘se boursoufler’, and the noun is twofold:...
Nuannaarpoq

Nuannaarpoq

Can a word change a life? This Eskimo word changed mine and made me curious about a people who could create such a word. I’ve spent the last quarter of a century turning it over in my mind like a gleaming pebble in the palm of the hand, pondering what I could...
Quviannikumut

Quviannikumut

A glorious Eskimo word for feeling deeply happy – I wish you many moments of quviannikumut. ‘Sitting high on a sea cliff in sunny, blustery weather in late June – the familiar sense of expansiveness, of deep exhilaration such weather brings over one,...
Isumataq

Isumataq

Barry Lopez’ masterful Arctic Dreams gave me an inkling of a richly philosophical seam in the Eskimo language. If you sit down and watch, read or listen to the news, you may despair at the apparent absence of anything resembling an isumataq in the upper echelons...
Perlerorneq

Perlerorneq

May you be ever spared this suffocating, madness-inducing winter depression.  Lopez describes the misery or insanity it can bring on, and the compassion often shown to those who succumb to it.  It seems a product of endless cold and darkness, but it has an...
Plump with meaning

Plump with meaning

When there is substance behind them, the most ordinary words acquire meaning, and so satisfy the senses as ripe nuts falling in the lap of a hungry man might satisfy hunger. This idea of commonplace words placed uncommonly and so providing nourishment for the mind or...
Slummock

Slummock

Glorious word this, describing a dirty, untidy or slovenly person, or behaving in a lazy, indolent or clumsy way, as in ‘You’ve slummocked in bed for weeks’.   ‘Stop slummocking, will you?’ Now, where did I find this word?  I’m too...
Mastiff-like tenacity

Mastiff-like tenacity

Such jaw-gripping tenacity is used to describe the force that the ending ‘-cious’ adds to words, as in the word ‘tenacious’.  Thoreau observes and analyses language as incisively as he observes and analyses nature. ‘… the...

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