Friday, July 08, 2005

Vocabulary

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Chapter 1
  • Tee-totaller. One who, like my parents (but not me), abstains completely from the consumption of alcoholic beverages of any type. The term apparently originated with the British “temperance” movement. (And that’s another definition we won’t get into here.)
  • Clothes. Now, I have to admit that the first two times I read this book, I thought the point Lewis was making was that the Scrubbs were very neat and tidy people—who, you know, unlike me, didn’t leave a bunch of laundry scattered all over the room, including on the bed. But what Lewis means by “very few clothes on the beds” is that the Scrubbs believed in sleeping more cold than warm; that is, the beds didn’t have many blankets on them. Am I a little slow in the uptake, or what?
  • Grain Elevators. I presume that this will be confusing for some people. Maybe not. But these are silos (tall, usually cylindrical structures used to store grain) that are outfitted with some automated means of getting the grain in and out. You really can’t ride a grain elevator. Much.
  • Stern. This is used as a noun here, not an adjective, so there’s no missing word. The stern is the rear portion of a ship (synonymous, more or less, with ‘aft’ or sometimes ‘poop,’ as in ‘the poop deck’—and I actually think Lewis uses this latter term far more frequently in this book than is proper for an adult).
Chapter 2
  • Catches. As the American Heritage Dictionary would have it, these are “canonic, often rhythmically intricate compositions for three or more voices, popular especially in the 17th and 18th centuries.” I’ll just have to take their word for it.
  • Lodge a Disposition. Sounds kind of like fancy language for “get something stuck in your throat.” It’s actually fancy language for “make a complaint.”
  • Boatswain. The crew member in charge of keeping the boat’s deck ship-shape. Heh heh. In much of sea-going jargon, this is shortened to “bosun.”
  • Cogs. Single-masted trading ships; typical in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries of our world.
  • Dromonds. Speedy Byzantine sailing galleys, specifically designed for war.
  • Carracks. Square-rigged, multi-masted ocean-going vessels. Magellan circumnavigated the earth in a carrack.
  • Below the Belt. A term from the days when “being a good sport” meant something. The idea here is that it used to be considered poor sportsmanship to hit a man in his private parts. It hurts.
  • Poltroon. A salt’s term for “coward.”
Chapter 4
  • Postern. Most fortified cities naturally had large gates. That’s how you’d get big things in, like Trojan horses and such. Sort of. But cities (and castles) also had small, stout doors just big enough for people to get in and out of. A postern figures prominently in the battle at Helm’s Deep in Tolkien’s The Two Towers.
Chapter 5
  • Battened. When I pretended to be on a storm-tossed sea as a child, I had no idea what I meant when I shouted, “Batten down the hatches!” You just did it. But the idea is that “battening” would be used to seal the hatches so that seawater would not flood the lower decks.
  • Reef. To bring in the sails and lash them down. A severe wind could shred the canvas, which would be very very bad.
  • Yard. The cross-piece on the mast, from which a square sail would be hung.
Chapter 7
  • Billy-oh. Archaic British slang for “a whole bunch.”
Chapter 8
  • Baccy. That’s tobacco. Remember, Tolkien put tobacco in Middle-earth, too, though he later tried to get away with calling it “pipe-weed.” Nicotine and lung cancer are apparently common to all worlds.
Chapter 10
  • Curds. Now, this is really strange, but in societies of the past, curdled dairy product was a delicacy. And while cottage cheese is still with us, it’s hardly considered the food of royalty.
  • Examination. A test, not a medical inspection, or anything of that sort.
  • Bottom. This is a reference to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which featured a fool named Bottom.
Chapter 11
  • Chaplet. A wreath worn on the head.
  • Girdle. A wide sash worn around the waist. Used to “gird up the loins,” so to speak, if you’ve ever read the King James version of the Old Testament. I think this was probably done to prevent hernias during heavy exertion!
  • Lemon-squash. The British version lemonade. But it’s really not much like lemonade. I think they must crush the rind, too. But then, I’ve only had the bottled stuff. Not terribly pleasant, I must say.
Chapter 12
  • Boon. A granted request.
Chapter 13
  • Devices. Symbols. Heraldry was the art of conveying, in “devices” upon shields, banners and so on, a knight’s heritage.
Chapter 14
  • Quay. A weird term for “wharf.” Pronounced “key.” Useful in Scrabble.
Chapter 15
  • Coronets. Light crowns, mere circlets almost. My dad played a cornet, incidentally. Not only spelled differently, it's like a trumpet and doesn't fit very comfortably on one's head. Not that I ever tried, mind you.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jon said...

Jenn too.

1/15/2008 2:17 PM  
Blogger yaguara2003 said...

Who does casting for extras for these films in New Zealand, Europe, London etc? Mexico? Thanks

-jeff

8/15/2008 3:00 PM  

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