Thursday, 17 October 2013

Endangered words

Have you ever wondered what happens to the words that are no longer used? They become classed as obsolete, confined to only the largest of dictionaries by lexicographers (those guys whose job it is to compile dictionaries.) As new words are created to fit with our new fangled lifestyle, old words are inevitably pushed out and lost. You can't really be a literacy teacher without spending a large amount of your time thinking about words but it wasn't until last week at Ally Pally when I saw a collection of endangered knitted specimens that I started to worry about their fate. Some might say do we actually care but I'm with Safia Shah and I'll happily join the campaign to bring words back to life especially if it involves knitting them.


Who better to involve in such a virtuous adventure than my own child, along with a friend, especially as they were off school today due to teachers striking. The girls embraced the idea of saving these dejected words and with very little encouragement from me, set about composing their very own dictionary.

Along with words featured in Safia's website (jargogle, ninnyhammer, brabble), they unearthed many other delights:

Jollux - 18th century slang for a fat person

Elflocks - tangled hair, as if matted by elves

Twitterlight - an alternative word for twilight

Hugger-mugger - to act in a secretive manner


And even more apt for any 10 year old girls - twattle - the act of prattling on, talking idly and gossiping (as if that needed any explanation).


But what to do with such a fascination of words and how best to save them from extinction? Fortunately I know a lovely lady with her own ceramics painting cafe, delectable glazes and a kiln in which to fire everything into an everlasting memory.


Thank you very much to Catherine and Gail at Espressions

Not only did they have the whole kit and caboodle for preserving the moment but Catherine also had a pile of ancient books overflowing with a superabundance of words clambering for that second chance.


Safia's book Carnaby Street's The Great Uninvited is released on 31st October and will be eagerly awaited by my two wordsmiths and I will be able to collect the tiles next week.


1 comment:

  1. Preserving on tiles -- what a great idea, a sort of permanent photo. Some words written 5000 years ago are still preserved on clay tiles, of course. What agreat project!


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