Wordy Wednesday 5



On World Book day I blogged about the wonderful collaboration between Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, The Lost Words, and in this I suggested that perhaps it grew out of Robert Macfarlane’s book Landmarks.

But Landmarks is a marvellous book in its own right, and has much the the same aim as The Lost Words, in that it introduces the reader to scores of words it is unlikely they will have come across before.

These are almost exclusively words from Britain used to describe objects and phenomena in the natural world, be it a word peculiar to East Anglia for a small stream (a currel, since you ask), a word from Sussex for a heap of dung (a maxon), or, from Suffolk, a measure of herrings or sprats (a cade).

Most of these are obscure because they are words in local dialect, and therefore only used in a small number of places, or have fallen into disuse and been virtually lost over the years, or are very specialised words that it is unlikely the majority of people would ever come across.

The book is filled with background stories by the author, either of his own experiences or those of other writers and scholars with a deep love and understanding of words and the natural world, which makes the whole book far more than simply a glossary of lost words.

The reader is introduced to a wealth of knowledge and experience on all aspects of the subject, from seas and rivers to woodlands and mountains, farmed land, the strange no-man’s land at the edge of settlements, and even deep underground.

Personally, I have been trying to drop the word smeuse into conversations since reading the book. It is a Sussex word, and so was / is in use fairly locally to me and means…well, read the book and find out what it means.

Oh, and maxon. Naturally.

Certainly a five star read.

9 thoughts on “Wordy Wednesday 5

  1. Mick, the personal angle of this book sounds of special interest and anecdotes help to bring books alive when they could become mere lists. This is a book I’ve meant to read and you’ve just reminded me that although I posted about this book (here https://annikaperry.com/2016/03/10/disappearing-words/) I never got round to reading it in full. I’ll be ordering this from the library and find out what smeuse means … and learn more about crottle and wonty-tump!😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a lovely book, Annika. I was given ‘The Old Ways’ as a present, several years ago, as the giver knew I loved the outdoors and it immediately became a favourite book. Landmarks is equally brilliant, and all his others are now on my (extremely extensive) ‘To Read’ list.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the title – wordy Wednesday. I also write quite a bit for wordless Wednesday which is actually not in line with the theme but then I can’t stop writing and bloggers who have been inviting me to post for WW are good with it. I wonder if at all wordless has any meaning in the blogging world? Someone might rather post pictures on the photo sharing sites, Instead!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Words. It’s amazing how some have such a passion for them, to explore their inner nooks and crannies, to make them sing. And for others, it’s like solving a mathematical equation, a brain-wracking ordeal, scratched out in painful pieces. I’m not sure which camp I fall in, but I’m not sure I’d get the joy out of those books that you have.

    Maybe I need to have a word with my imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, it’s almost like a specialisation, Dave. I’m sure you could use a lot of words I’m unfamiliar with, and many other folk too, because of your diving world, for example. And they wouldn’t seem strange to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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