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Hope in the Dark

The Old English word galan means “to call” or “to sing enchantments.” It’s the source of the obsolete word galder meaning “charm” or “incantation,” as well as nightingale, the name of a bird...

Gee and Haw

The highly specialized vocabulary of people who work outdoors, communicating with sled dogs, a word from the sport of rock-climbing, church key, browse line, smeuse, nitnoy, mommick, zawn, zwer, boom dog, and I think my pig is whistling.

Smeuse

There’s a word hole in a hedge or wall made by the repeated passage of a small animal. It’s called a smeuse. This dialect term from the UK is one of hundreds from Landmarks, a book of essays in which Robert Macfarlane seeks to reanimate...

Zwen and Zwan

Robert Macfarlane’s book Landmarks, a collection of dialect terms for features of the natural landscape, includes zwen, the sound of partridges taking off, and zawn, a wave-smashed chasm in a cliff. This is part of a complete episode.

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