• Richard Farr

Old words for old things

Robert Macfarlane’s The Old Ways resurrects not only old ways – roads, paths, routes – but the old words you need to describe them. I keep drifting back to the book just to linger over sentences that contain, like fragile eggs in a fallen nest, words like zawns, herepath, holloway, pugmark, curach, selkie, sillion. Words that make you feel the wind in your face. And a sign of the times: I had to re-type ever single one of these words in order to override my automatic spell-checker’s desperate hunt for something it knew.

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