broadsideblog

The Naming Of Things

In animals, antiques, art, beauty, life on October 1, 2011 at 10:45 am
How exactly do I milk this thing?

Image by Unhindered by Talent via Flickr

Holstein, Jersey…

Then I ran out of names for cows. I’m not a farm girl and, although a big fan of milk and yogurt (thanks, cows!) I’m at a loss to name more than two breeds of them.

For someone who prides herself on knowing a lot about the world, this annoys me.

I went for a walk and tried to name all the trees I saw. I could recognize plane, oak, maple, elm, chestnut, white and red pine, cedar, Japanese maple, birch…But not walnut. I’d feel a little silly carrying a field guide, but how else will I know how to name the things around me?

We know to name the things that matter most, but why can I name (sigh) the makers of $800 shoes more readily than I can cite the names of the trees and flowers and birds that give me the most pleasure?

Having studied a variety of disciplines, from photography to sailing to saber fencing to interior design to two languages (French and Spanish), I have a large and varied vocabulary I enjoy:

quoin, dentil, parapluie, tenedor, gunwhale, boom vang, crazing, metamerism.

What are some of the favorite words you use in your worlds?

  1. We just got back from Hungary, what a language! I speak French and a little German, but neither helped us over there.

    I love words and knowing stuff, I could never do a degree, what would I study, I want to know everything. As a result I drift in and out reading all sorts of stuff.

    The whole world is just interesting isn’t it?

    As for a words – zoom, boing, hush, magic, love, words that mean what they say, words that have a picture attached. All good

    Jim

  2. I’m eager to visit Hungary…lucky you!

  3. I’ve learned a little bit of Spanish, but I’d really love to learn French too. It just sounds like such a sexy language when I hear it, I love how it flows and how it makes everything sound so sophisticated and romantic when you hear it. My mother learned French back in school, but only knows a few phrases now.

  4. French is gorgeous….but unforgiving. The slightest error in a diphthong and you’re toast!

  5. [...] to the biggest cow I’ve ever seen in my life! She originally saw this cow picture on a blog post and I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out of my eye sockets. "Salem Sue", the [...]

  6. “why can I name (sigh) the makers of $800 shoes more readily than I can cite the names of the trees and flowers and birds that give me the most pleasure”

    Hahahahahaha, clearly $800 give you a lot more pleasure than you realise ;)

    I’m studying boat anatomy now (in lieu, frustratingly, of being actually able to get on a tug). I like words like transom, wheelhouse, hawser… to me, words that have shape. solidity, texture and almost, almost a certain smell to them. But I am a teeny bit biased.

  7. LOVE tugboats…Lucky you! One of my happiest days ever in NY was spent on a tugboat in the harbor. I too love all those marine/nautical words.

    It isn’t loving $$$ shoes, it’s reading silly fashion magazines…and not field guides. What you read too often, you end up knowing.

  8. One of my fav words is “dreich” which is a Scottish word to describe overcast, dull, drizzly weather – it’s used rather a lot!

  9. What a fantastic word! How is it used? Today is a dreich day? How is it pronounced?

    I just learned an amazing word from someone’s blog…a freemartin, the female twin of a bull calf. Who knew?!

  10. Yes and it’s appropriate for today which is a real dreich day here in Edinburgh! It’s pronounced dree “ch” as in our throaty “ch” like in loch Ness. I didt know about freemartin either – brilliant!

  11. Love it. It’s dreich out here on Long island today as well.

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