Thursday 10 February 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday 10/2/11

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.  

I've just finished reading Witi Ihamaera's The Whale Rider- a rather fascinating insight into modern Maori culture. I plan to write a proper post on it sometime soon, but in the meantime thought I would pass along some of the many new words I came across in this book. 

1. Lambent

Even in his lumbering years of age the whale would remember his adolescence and his master; at such moments he would send long, undulating songs of mourning through the lambent water. 

lam·bent  adj.
1. Flickering lightly over or on a surface: lambent moonlight.
2. Effortlessly light or brilliant: lambent wit.
3. Having a gentle glow; luminous. 

[Latin lambns, lambent-, present participle of lambereto lick.]

I do love the concept of lambent, I do rather think it's such a dreary sounding word for such a beautiful phenomenon.

pinched from flickr

2. Susurrated (and glissandi while we're at it)

The ice cracked, moaned, shivered and susurrated with rippling glissandi, a giant organ playing a titanic symphonic.
su·sur·ra·tion   also su·sur·rus 
A soft, whispering or rustling sound; a murmur.

[Middle English susurracioun, from Late Latin susurrti, susurrtin-, from Latin susurrtus, past participle of susurrreto whisper, from susurruswhisperultimately of imitative origin.]

su·surrant su·surrous  adj.

n. pl. glis·san·di  or glis·san·dos Music
A rapid slide through a series of consecutive tones in a scalelike passage.

[French glissade; see glissade + -ando (as in accelerando).]

3. Skirled
The elderly female whales skirled their happiness through the sea.

v. skirledskirl·ingskirls
To produce a high, shrill, wailing tone. Used of bagpipes.
To play (a piece) on bagpipes.
1. The shrill sound made by the chanter pipe of bagpipes.
2. A shrill wailing sound: "The skirl of a police whistle split the stillness" (Sax Rohmer).

[Middle English skrillen, skirlenprobably of Scandinavian origin.]

4. Plangent
The sound was plangent and sad as he tried to communicate his oneness with the young whale's mourning. 
1. Loud and resounding: plangent bells.
2. Expressing or suggesting sadness; plaintive: "From a doorway came the plangent sounds of a guitar" (Malcolm Lowry).

[Latin plangns, plangent-, present participle of plangereto strike, lament; see plk-2 in Indo-European roots.]

plangen·cy n.
plangent·ly adv.

It's funny to note that all these words are from sections about the whales, which is actually not the major part of the book. The majority of the action centers on the people rather than the whales. But for some reason his writing about the whales had more words I didn't know. Although the people sections had many, many Maori words I didn't know. More on that later. 


Anonymous said...

I must have read this book in translation, because I don't recall finding so many beautiful words in it. Nice post!

bermudaonion said...

I love these words! In this part of the country, people would probably think I meant squirrel if I said skirl! Thanks for playing along!

Margot said...

Such beautiful words from this book. It must have been a joy to read.

Anonymous said...

here's mine

Susan said...

This is a beautiful post. It's such a joy to read books with rich language. Not necessarily to have to run to the dictionary every few sentences, but to read and understand new words from the context of the writing. This book sounds like a winner.

Kath Lockett said...

I'm being a bit lambent at the moment: should be going to yoga and finishing an article but am goofing off on blogs! :)

Unknown said...

Lambent - such a lovely word. Skirl was the only one familiar to me, having a Scottish father, and interesting to see again how many Scots words have a Scandinavian origin...those Vikings!

Joy said...

I knew glissandi from piano lessons, but the rest were new to me. Thanks!

Here's mine: Wondrous Words Wednesday

Anonymous said...

here's mine