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Folk Friday: Weird and Wonderful Words

English really is a crazy, wonderful language. This morning, my co-worker in the ESL department arrived with a couple of calendars she picked up on sale last night. One of them gives a new unusual English word each day, and some of them are gems.

Frigorific – Sounds rather vulgar, doesn’t it? It means ‘to make something cold’, as in ‘a frigorific blast of wind’. When I relay this one to my DH, I’m sure it will find alternate meanings.

Grok – Huh? Sounds like a noise a bird makes. It means ‘to understand profoundly and intuitively’, as in ‘Margaret Mitchell really grokked character description’. The word was coined by Robert A Heinlein in his 1969 Science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. It’s supposed to be Martian.

Acedia – apathy or boredom. This one has its origins in Latin. Acedia is a common condition this time of year, I’d say.

When I was growing up, my family had an elderly Nuttall’s English dictionary. It’s a great source of old words. One of my favourites is ‘slubberdegullion’, meaning a mean, dirty fellow. Drat, I should have had Chelle call someone that in McShannon’s Heart – but no, the word went out of use a couple of hundred years before Chelle was born.
What writer doesn’t love finding new words?

And yes, it’s Folk Friday. Since I’ve started rambling about language, Here’s a tune in Scottish Gaelic sung by Nova Scotia’s own Mary Jane Lamond. I love her pure, clear voice.
One thing I enjoy about Gaelic music is that the meaning of the lyrics is sometimes at variance with the mood created by the music. This piece is a good example. These songs weren’t written as art, they were written as forms of gossip and storytelling for people who had no time or reason to learn to read. At least this one isn’t about a grisly murder, as was one beautiful song I heard at a folk club meeting one night. I wished I’d been content not to know the meaning. Enjoy this one!

(“Dómhnall Mac ‘Ic Iain”)

English Translation:

Ma dh’eugas Dòmhnall mac ‘ic Iain If Donald son of the son of John dies
Eugaich e an cosnach He’ll die employed
Ma dh’eugas Dòmhnall mac ‘ic Iain If Donald son of the son of John dies
Bidh sinn air a thòrradh We’ll be at his funeral
Ma dh’eugas Dòmhnall mac ‘ic Iain If Donald son of the son of John dies
Eugaich e an cosnach He’ll die employed
Ma dh’eugas Dòmhnall mac ‘ic Iain If Donald son of the son of John dies
Bidh sinn air a thòrradh We’ll be at his funeral

Gheobh sinn aran agus ìm We’ll get bread and butter
‘S càise na banaraich And the milkmaid’s cheese
Gheobh sinn aran agus ìm We’ll get bread and butter
Uisge-beath’ an Tòisich And the Toiseach’s whisky
Gheobh sinn aran agus ìm We’ll get bread and butter
‘S càise na banaraich And the milkmaid’s cheese
Gheobh sinn aran agus ìm We’ll get bread and butter
Uisge-beath’ an Tòisich And the Toiseach’s whisky

One Comment

  1. Theanne...
    January 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I love learning new words too…those you know (from the past) and have recently found on a calendar are certainly new to me! Exciting! Particularly like GROK! The song by Mary Jane Lamond was uplifting…from the music I would never have figured it was about someone possibly dying. Thanks for visiting my blog today…I don't know why K-9s who'll jump in any old piece of water aren't thrilled about taking a bath…maybe it's the conflict between having to do something and wanting to do something…LOL


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