August Literary Resolution and Wariangles

Only four months left after this for the 2011 literary resolutions. Every time I do something like this (such as the 30 day song challenge on Facebook), it makes the time pass that much quicker. Whereas keeping track of writing-related goals never has that effect.

This is my favourite month. The challenge is: reread your favourite book from childhood. Why did that book make such an impression on you?

I get to reread - and talk about - The Lord of the Rings again! I had a long post last year, based on a post of Tahereh's; I called it Why Tahereh Mafi Should Read The Lord of the Rings.

I won't repeat all my points. It's quickest to say, without Tolkien, I wouldn't be writing. Of course, I started writing fiction before I first read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings (at the age of 10), but my growing love of language was directly influenced by Tolkien and the other members and followers of the Inklings. Many of the books I've read since discovering Tolkien were based on his recommendations, inspirations, editing, involvement, and so on.

And nothing beats the Oxford English Dictionary for etymologies! Here's Tolkien's research into one of my favourite words (I've blabbed about this before, haven't I?):

wariangle, n.

OE ?weargincel, ME variangel, were-, weryangle, wayryngle, ME, 16–17 waryangle, 15–18 wariangle, 15 warriangle, 16 warwinckle, wierangle, wierangel, wirrangle....

Etymology: ?Old English weargincelshrike (Sweet: authority not known). Compare Old High German (Middle High German) warchengil, wargengel, wargingel, etc. 'cruricula', etc. (Steinmeyer-Sievers, Diefenbach), German wargengel, warkengel (with very many local variants due to different etymologizing alterations; as würgengel, quasi 'destroying angel'). Compare also Middle Low German worgel, Old High German (Middle High German) wargil, warigel, wergil, worgel(Bavarian dialect wörglshrike, Salzburg wörgelgreenfinch). All these forms appear to be diminutives of Old Germanic *wargo-zmurderer: see wary n.

The Old English word, if genuine, perhaps preserves most nearly the original form. For the suffix compare Old English húsincel, túnincel, þéowincel, etc. (all without umlaut). Compare Old High German -inklî(n. It remains, however, very remarkable that in German or in later English there is no trace of -k forms with the single exception of warwinckle in quot. 1618 at sense 1.

As there is no evidence of the word later until Chaucer, the Middle English and later forms are perhaps in part due to, or influenced by, some continental form. The prevalent form of the ending, -angle, -ingle, is perhaps partly due to association with hang v. (owing to the habits of the shrike). In early times the first element would assist this etymology: compare Old English weargtréo, warytre n. gallows. Such an association was apparently present in early German: compare such forms as wurgelhâch, wurgelhâhe, warchengil, warkengel, etc.

1. A name formerly given to the Shrike or Butcher-bird, either the (Great or European) Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor) or the smaller red-backed Shrike (L. collurio). See shrike n.2

Apart from the doubtful Old English form and two obscure passages in Middle English the evidence for the existence of the word is almost solely drawn from dictionaries, glossaries, and dialect collections of doubtful value, some of which perh. merely echo quot. 1598.

c1386 Chaucer Friar's Tale 110 This Somonour, that was as ful of Iangles, As ful of venym been thise waryangles.

1598 T. Speght Wks. G. Chaucer Annot. Bbbb v Warriangles Be a kind of birdes full of noyse and very rauenous, preying vpon others, which when they haue taken, they vse to hang vpon a thorne or pricke, & teare them in pieces and deuoure them. And the common opinion is, that the thorne wherupon they thus fasten them and eate them, is afterward poysonsome. In Staffordshire and Shropshire the name is common.

2. Used as a term of contemptuous abuse. Rare.
a1400–50 Wars Alex. 1706 A wirlyng, a wayryngle [Dubl. MS. warlow], a wawil-eȝid shrewe."


li said…
That was a super post :-) My favorite class was 6th grade English, when my teacher allowed us to come up with our own list of vocab/spelling words every week. I spent many happy hours poring through the dictionary.
You love your Lord of the Rings!

One of my favorite books was Hello Aurora. It's an obscure book I bought at a Scholastic Fair. I bought it used from Amazon a year or two ago, and loved it just as much.
Jillybean said…
I love etymology! Too bad I know almost zip about old/middle English. [g] I can read it -- don't ask me about advanced vocabulary like this, though!

Love the word wariangle! Have to admit, though, I'm quite a bit fonder of 'wirlyng' for some reason.
Jillybean said…
Another thought - what's all this about birds lately, anyway? For both of us!
Deniz Bevan said…
Ooh, li, that sounds awesome. Love poring through the dictionary. You start with one word...

Sounds intriguing Theresa! I miss those Scholastic book order forms. I got all fan girlish one time in NYC when we walked past the Scholastic building.

Ever since we started talking about birds, Jill, I keep seeing bird stuff everywhere! Read an article on Islam and Turks and birds (when I was finishing my research the other day) and found all sorts of symbolism for the doves that are already in the story - apparently I did right by putting in the doves in the scene when Baha takes a turn for the worse; doves symbolise hope for lovers. Awww.
Michelle Fayard said…
Your post brought back so many good memories. I have several childhood favorites, but the ones that just popped into my hear are two by Zilpha Keately Synder, The Changeling and The Velvet Room.
Jillybean said…
Deniz - oh, how perfect! [g] I didn't know that.
Beth said…
I love the idea of re-reading some of my favorite childhood books. It would be fun to see how our adult selves feel about them.
Deniz Bevan said…
Aww, I'm glad Michelle. Hadn't heard of that author, will go look!

I didn't know that until last week either, Jill, and I wrote the scene last year! Love it when that happens [g]

You're right, Beth - I should reread something from childhood that I *haven't* reread before.

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