Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday 2/6/11

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

I'm currently reading Robert Louis Stevenson's classic work Kidnapped. It's rather fascinating as a story, and intriguing too for its vocabulary. Published in 1886, but set in Scotland in 1751, it is choc full of anachronisms.

David, you shouldnae speak to me about your father.

So much so, that my Penguin edition has a 3 page glossary at the back. But still there are even more words that are new to me. Most of the words I'll feature here aren't in the glossary. I suspect that Kidnapped will supply enough words for many Wednesdays.

1. Risp. Verb

If the worst came to the worst, and your high relations (as I cannot suppose them to be somewhat of your blood) should put you to the door, ye can but walk the two days back again and risp at the manse door.

Make a grating sound (particularly on an uneven bar on which a ring slides, used instead of a door knocker)
(The manse was the  house of the parish minister)

2. Rowans. Noun

To be sure, I laughed over this; but it was rather tremulous laughter; and I was glad to get my bundle on my staff's end and set out over the ford and up the hill upon the farther side; till, just as I came on the green drove-road running wide through the heather, I took my last look of Kirk Essendean, the trees about the manse, and the big rowans in the kirkyard where my father and my mother lay.

I initially thought he was referring to grave stones or monuments, although it is unusual for poor people to have large grave markers of course. Turns out rowans are trees- and apparently meant to scare away the witches.

3. Firth. Noun.

There was a flag upon the castle, and ships moving or lying anchored in the firth; both of which, for as far away as they were, I could distinguish clearly; and both bought my country heart into my mouth.

Not an unfamiliar word.

But a different meaning here. Reasonably obvious from context. I suspected harbour, and was close enough.

Firth is the word in the Lowland Scots language and in English used to denote various coastal waters in Scotland and England. In mainland Scotland it is used to describe a large sea bay, or even a strait. (from wiki)


Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Louise,

The only one of your words that I didn't know of, is 'Risp' and I could never have guessed what that was in a million years.

It sounds like a great Scots word and even better when said with the accent.

If you are reading anything with a good Scottish theme, I'm sure there will be plenty of words to keep you going for a long time!!


Annie said...

I like to learn new words which are linked with a country, like Scotland. They are often "tasteful" !

Anonymous said...

Great words, firth was interesting.

bermudaonion said...

I just read a book set in Scotland and it had words like shouldnae too. Reading it made me want to go to Scotland. I enjoyed your visual explanation of firth!

Scribacchina said...

I somehow knew rowan, but that's all. Thanks for all the new words!

Tea said...

I think the Rowan is a pretty tree. All of these are new words for me.

Margot said...

All of your words were new to me. When I first saw Rowan I thought of the company that makes wonderful yarn and knitting patterns. When I saw Firth I thought first of the Firth of the picture. All interesting words Louise.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I loved reading all the wondrous words in Kidnapped, too. (And I really like this meme....Maybe I can try it now and then this summer, when I have lots of extra time.)

Lisa said...

Risp is interesting - a little like rasp. And I am not nearly as familiar with Firth as I'd like to be. :)

My words are here.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

I'm loving these words! They are shorter words, but sophisticated in meaning. Thanks for sharing!