Having come to the end of Simon Armitage’s Walking Home, I want to write another commentary and revise some of what I said before. I take back, in part, the complaint about the lack of poetry. There is some but not enough. Also, the ending left me wildly disappointed. My favorite sentence remains: “A woman plays the Northumberland pipes; from where I’m sitting … it looks like she’s giving physiotherapy to a small marsupial wearing callipers and smoking a bong…” And my favorite bit of information: They played Pooh sticks!
And I share his “anxiety disorder”: As he walked he worried about the poetry reading; as he read, he worried about the walk. Boy, can I identify!
Before I get to the long list of new words, here are some observations on British English. Besides “tyre” for “tire,” and “judgement” for “judgment,” we have pretty much abandoned “doughnut” for “donut.” I’ve never seen the word “tarmack” used as a verb, nor would I ever refer to a packet of mustard as a sachet.
Some of these Britishisms create delightful images: “posh Wellies,” which Armitage says have a buckle on the side. But the Hunter company’s catalogue indicates that all the models, for men and women, come that way now. So I guess we’d all have to be “posh” if we bought them, which I have now decided never to do.
The noun “fell” in Brit-speak means, according to the Cambridge dictionary, a hill or a rise of land. On this side of the pond, Emily Dickinson has the best usage, as an adjective: “House is being ‘cleaned.’ I prefer pestilence. It is more classic and less fell.” I prefer the E.D. version.
Here are the words I did not know that I found in the American Heritage Dictionary:
- beck – a small brook,
- lurcher – a crossbred dog used by poachers,
- tup – ram (which I’ve seen before, probably in Willie S.),
- tormentil – a plant with yellow flowers,
- conurbation – a metropolitan area,
- rota – rotation,
- pipit – a type of songbird,
- Theodolite – a surveying instrument,
- saloon – a sedan.
Note: Spel Czech (my version of spell check) didn’t recognize recognize any of the above except “fell” and the American spellings.
Tomorrow: Definitions I had to locate in English-English dictionaries and elsewhere.