Thursday, November 19, 2009

Clarity: an attempt to return to the premise of this blog

With apologies to the Travelling Spouse for butting into her business, but because I know most of you have been wondering about the word "Lychgate"...

The picture at the top of this post is a lychgate. This particular one is in Wales. A lychgate (not Lynchgate - that's a whole 'nother post, I'll bet) is a covered gate which enters into a graveyard, specifically into a church graveyard. Literally, "corpse gate".

Since several of you have asked, the word "lych" is from the Old English (actually Saxon; several of our really good words have survived from the Saxon. Ahem) and means "corpse". It is meant to be an adjective/prefix for things having to do with a corpse. Our friend Wally Wikipedia gives such examples as lych bell (a hand-held bell rung in front of a corpse during a funeral procession); lych way (the path down which a corpse is carried to its resting place); and lych-'Donald's (a place where people eat dead meat.) Perhaps this last was not on Wikipedia. I forget.

I want to quickly explain that this word only refers to the entrance to a BRITISH churchyard. In the U.S., we refer to cemetery gates as "gates"; Paths as "paths"; and hamburger places as "junk food joints". But you knew that. To my knowledge, we don't ring bells in front of corpses, being considerably more civilized than your average barbarian Brit who does that and even worse...

I'll not burden you with the Welsh translation of the Saxon-cum-English word (since it sounds filthy) though I am tempted to honor Sage by trying to come up with the Cornish equivilent. It is probably on a sign somewhere in Cornwall already, though. In Irish (yes, I know this is not British) it is called marbhan geata. (Who knew there were so many languages in the UK? And I haven't scratched the surface. Nor will I try.)

Now, wasn't that more interesting than me being unmetricated?

Next: "Different to vs. different than." Holy Huckabee.
Photo of the day: Dean Vernon Wormer:


Stephanie B said...

Lych is a cool word. There has to be a way to use it in my fiction.

If you'd never mentioned it, I would never have known.

Did you know that, despite all their different language, they still mostly use metric in the UK and Ireland?

Sage said...

@stephanie, that would be why despite every thing being sold in metric some people still ask for a yard of fabric and a pound of apples then lol...

Actually I am definitely amongst them, I know I can do the sums but I prefer to ask for 6 oz of ham rather than 300g just to be awkward and watch the weighing assistants try and do the reverse maths lol


lyche is the middle english for body rather than corpse, and the cornish for that is korf so again I think you could derive corpse from same lines of association.

The welsh for the same is corff (or cyrff)while the welsh for corpse is celain.

Does that help Max

A. said...

You keep taking the words out of my mouth, dear Max. I haven't even had time to explain the difference between lynch and lych to my commenting friend. :) I've had an emotionally draining morning, delving into the innards of hard drives.

Back to lychgates, they often have shelves to rest the body, and some even have a little room above the gate. I hadn't realised we hadn't exported lychgates to your shores. They are very common around here.

As for the rest of it:
And if I haver, well I know I'm gonna be,
I'm gonna be the one who's havering to you

But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the one who walks one thousand miles
To fall down at your door

A. said...

I was taught "different from". I can write nothing else, she was a very strict teacher.

soubriquet said...

The Lyke-Wake Dirge
(Lyke=corpse, Lik, (modern swedish)=corpse.)

This ae neet, this ae neet,
Every neet and all,
Fire an' fleet an' candleleet,
And Christ receive thy saul.

If thou from here our wake has passed,
Every neet and all,
To Whinny Moor thou comes at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

And if ever thou gavest hosen or shoen,
Every neet and all,
Then sit ye down and put them on,
And Christ receive thy saul.

But if hosen or shoen thou ne'er gavest nane,
Every neet and all,
The whinny will prick thee to thy bare bane,
And Christ receive thy saul.

From Whinny Moor when thou mayst pass,
Every neet and all,
To Brig o' Dread thou comest at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

From Brig o' Dread when thou may'st pass,
Every neet and all,
To Purgatory thou comest at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

And if ever thou gavest meat or drink,
Every neet and all,
The fire will never make thee shrink,
And Christ receive thy saul.

But if meat nor drink thou ne'er gav'st nane,
Every neet and all,
The fire will burn thee to thy bare bane,
And Christ receive thy saul.

This ae neet, this ae neet,
Every neet and all,
Fire an' fleet an' candleleet,
And Christ receive thy saul.

Go listen here:

Relax Max said...

@Stephanie B - Thank you for the compliment! (And I am going to try to back gracefully away from metrics for awhile, though I haven't forgotten them. I will pounce when you least expect. :) )

Relax Max said...

@Sage - Korf. But probably can't say "Korf gate" can you? I must find out the Cornish word for "gate" now. This language thing never ends. :)

How do you know so much? Do you speak Cornish? Or have you studied it? I know you love Cornwall, but you weren't born there were you? You also seem very competent in Welsh.

I must start stalking you more and find out how you know so much. I have tried, but I always get sidetracked when I get to your recipes. Maybe I will try to make pasties for Thanksgiving.

I'm glad you stopped by today. :)

Relax Max said...

@A. - Hello A. :) First let me tell you I love the little poem at the end of your comment. That just HAS to be Irish! Remember the Irish blessings we all love so much? - like the road rising up to meet your feet, and like that? This poem sort of smacks of that, I think. I have made a copy of that last verse. I am going to keep it in my collection. Tell me if it is Irish.

Just give your commenting friend on your blog my blog link. I'll tell her (or him) all about lynchings! Ha! (But I am not sorry I stole this idea from your picture - though I am now studying up on hydraulic rams because of your other picture.)

But no, I don't think you've properly exported these lych gates to our shores, except in perhaps a rather few set of instances. We usually prepare our bodies at mortuaries, I think. :) Here is a tidbit I found in my exhaustive searching: in olden days it was less common to bury a body in an actual coffin, but rather a shroud only (must have been REALLY olden days) and the body (in the shroud) would be laid on a board of sorts (called a bier) for carrying purposes, and this transfer would take place in the lychgate, and then the bier would be carried more formally into the graveyard. Led by the clergyman, one assumes. (Perhaps with someone leading the way ringing a lych-bell?) Please write this down - I want it done for me if I happen to expire before I finish this long comment. :)

Did I ever tell you how much I appreciate your regular comments? I do.

Relax Max said...

"Different from" at least makes more sense than "different to". More on that later when Soubriquet isn't around.

Alison said...

Hmm, I don't think we have them this far north though?

I also have a vague recollection of them being called 'Kissing Gates' I think - perhaps referring to couples who have just been married?

Relax Max said...

Hi Alison. I think there are some (not as many) in Scotland. If you happen upon one, I'd appreciate a photo. But you have me curious about kissing gates now. I think they MUST be something different! I'm sure someone will help me out, but in the meantime, here is my own explanation:

In 1947, there was a robber by the name of Bernard Gaytes in Georgia. He was nicknamed "The Kissing Bandit" by the press at the time, because of his habit of robbing only women, but then kissing them before he ran away. He was never captured, and stories are still told about "Kissing Gaytes" to this very day.

And they say I can't write fiction. Hoowa.

Hey, Alison. Where have you BEEN?

Relax Max said...

@Soubriquet - Right. Well, obviously you didn't go to elementary school in the U.S. If you had, you would know that all American school children sing this song before classes start each morning. Just before saying the pledge to the flag. The words are a little different. Such as Whinny and hosen. But it was still pretty neet. Of course we couldn't say "Christ".

Thanks for the memories. I owe you.

Sheila said...

A kissing gate: a gate to let people through a fence while preventing livestock. On one side you have a normal gate (either metric or non-metric but most livestock haven't yet learnt how to count to ten) and on the other side a semi-circular or v-shaped construction which traps the free end of the gate and stops it from opening fully. You open the gate until the end "kisses" the upright post at the far side, enter the enclosure and push the gate back so that you can leave.

Sheila said...

It's also the name of a dating site for farmers. If you're looking for a romantic association. :)

Janet said...

By the time I read everyone else's comments I forgot what I was going to say.

Oh, yes. "Lych-Donald's" made me laugh so hard I had an asthma attack. I may have been cooped up in the house too long.

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