The Naming Of Things

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?

12 thoughts on “The Naming Of Things

  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


  2. 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.

  3. Pingback: Meet the world’s largest Holstein cow (and the world’s largest buffalo) | Every day I see a cow

  4. “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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?!

  7. 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!

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