Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy aka Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun.

I haven't played this meme in a while, but I've been mostly reading pretty straightforward books. Last week though, I ran across a lot of unusual (to me) words while reading The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

p.18 Tswana
"Why should I ever want anything but to live in Botswana, and to marry a Tswana girl?"
a member of a numerous people of Botswana and neighboring parts of South Africa.

p. 20 Motswana
"I love our country, and I am proud to be a Motswana."
is the singular form of Batswana

p. 22 Batswana
"We were all Batswana together, and a man would not see a fellow Motswana together."
A member of a Bantu people inhabiting Botswana and western South Africa. (Same as Tswana.)

p. 25 sjamboks
"They beat him with sjamboks and left him lying on the road to be run over."
(in southern Africa) a heavy whip, usually of rhinoceros hide.

p. 28 sufuba
"She carried food there, as that aunt was too old to look after herself and she had only one son there, who was sick with sufuba and could not walk very far."
I can't find a definition of this word. Obviously some kind of illness.

p. 69 hammerkops
"They barked at crows, and at hammerkops; they barked at passersby; and they sometimes barked just because they got too hot."
a brown heronlike African bird, Scopus umbretta, having the head so crested as to resemble a claw hammer. (see picture)

p. 74 bilharzia
"But years later, when he remained small, the mother thought of the fall and blamed herself for believing the nurse who was only good for doing bilharzia tests and checking for worms."
any elongated trematode of the genus Schistosoma, parasitic in the blood vessels of humans and other mammals; a blood fluke.

p. 90 santawana
p. 90 thokolosi
"No animal took him, or at least no ordinary animal. A santawana maybe, a thokolosi. Oh yes."
Santawana is a girl's name meaning consolation. This doesn't really make sense to me.
Originally a water sprite, the tokoloshe (alternate spelling) is nowadays often a domestic spirit in the households of witches and warlocks. Usually described as a brown, hairy dwarf, it is virtually identical, in habits and appearance, to the brownie of European folklore.

p. 149 muti
"Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni had found muti. He had found medicine."
Muti is a term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa as far north as Lake Tanganyika

p. 154 Bantustans
"They treat us as one of their wretched Bantustans. You know what they're like."
A bantustan (also known as black African homeland or simply homeland) was a territory set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia), as part of the policy of apartheid. Ten bantustans were established in South Africa, and ten in neighbouring South-West Africa (then under South African administration), for the purpose of concentrating the members of designated ethnic groups, thus making each of those territories ethnically homogeneous as the basis for creating "autonomous" nation states for South Africa's different black ethnic groups. The term was first used in the late 1940s, and was coined from 'Bantu' (meaning 'people' in some of the Bantu languages) and '-stan' (a suffix meaning 'land' in Sanskrit). It was regarded as a disparaging term by some critics of the apartheid-era government's 'homelands' (from Afrikaans tuisland). The word 'bantustan', today, is often used in a pejorative sense when describing a region that lacks any real legitimacy, consists of several unconnected enclaves, and/or emerges from national or international gerrymandering.

p. 201 dagga
"If it's obvious enough to me when I walk down the street that somebody has been smoking dagga, then surely it should be obvious enough to somebody like you."
Indian hemp used as a narcotic; cannabis.

p. 210 fantouche
"He was not going particularly fast, and so she dropped back slightly and followed him past the remnants of Mangope's capital and its fantouche Republic of Bophuthatswana."
a puppet or marionette with no will of its own

p. 224 Dumela
"Dumelas Mma," she said. "I am Mma Ramotswe."
Sesotho word, meaning hello or good day


CMash said...

Wow!! Some great words...all new to me.

bermudaonion said...

You found some great new words in that book! The hammerkop is adorable. Thanks for participating!

Lisa notes... said...

Glad you included a map. I would be lost! Interesting to see a hammerkops. Never heard of one. All your words are new to me.

B said...

Interesting! Thanks for sharing this list.

gautami tripathy said...

Great words. Thanks for posting.

Here is mine!

Margot said...

I read this book a long time ago and obviously skipped over all these new words. Very enlightening. Now I should probably go back and reread it.

Unknown said...

A terrific & very interesting list of words which I will refer to again when I read the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency! Thank you for the map & picture of the hammerkops, too!

Great post!
~ Amy

Anonymous said...

Santawanta means brown hyena. When looking for words in this series also add Setswana in your google search.