Saturday, April 18, 2015

Holloways, bostles, shutes, driftways, lichways, ridings, halterpaths

The English language is wonderfully varied, rich and expressive, facilitated by a linguistic kleptomaniacy leading to the purloining of words from all ages and places.

This is brought to mind by a passage in The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane.
Always, everywhere, people have walked, veining the earth with paths visible and invisible, symmetrical or meandering,’ writes Thomas Clark in his enduring prose-poem ‘In Praise of Walking’. It’s true that, once you begin to notice them, you see that the landscape is still webbed with paths and footways – shadowing the modern-day road network, or meeting it at a slant or perpendicular. Pilgrim paths, green roads, drove roads, corpse roads, trods, leys, dykes, drongs, sarns, snickets – say the names of paths out loud and at speed and they become a poem or rite – holloways, bostles, shutes, driftways, lichways, ridings, halterpaths, cartways, carneys, causeways, herepaths.
Language that is in itself poetic. What a wonderful collection for different types of paths.

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