Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday: Gardens of Grief

As a warm up for my upcoming review of Gardens of Grief by Boston Teran, I decided to do one of my favorite memes, Wondrous Words Wednesday, which I've been neglecting due to busyness--and laziness. Part word nerd, I visit the host site, Bermudaonion's Weblog, nearly every Wednesday, looking for new-to-me words in her weekly post to add to my ever-growing vocabulary list, as well as from other participants in this meme (even when I don't present words from my own reading, which feels a bit like cheating!). Anyway, I've just finished reading Gardens of Grief, a novel based on historical fact about the Armenian genocide, and will review it soon. In the meantime, here are a few words that I discovered while reading the novel. The book itself presents a definition for dragoman, and I also looked up each word on wonderful Wikipedia. I'm not supposed to quote from Gardens of Grief, as I have an advance copy of the book, which will be released to the public in April of this year.

1. dragoman: an official functionary, a sort of trading post politico and interpreter serviceable in a host of Arabic and European languages (from Gardens of Grief); title for interpreter, translator, and official guide between Turkish, Arabic, and Persian speaking countries. A dragoman was required to have a knowledge of many languages. This position was especially important during the Ottoman Empire (1299-1923).

2. efendi (also effendi): lord or master; title of respect used frequently during the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), equivalent to the English sir. In the book, this term was used repeatedly. I had a sense of the word from the context of the story, but wanted to know its meaning more precisely.

3. samovar: a heated metal container used to heat and boil water in Russia and many other countries, including those in the Middle-East. The heated water is usually used for making tea. Traditionally heated with coal or charcoal, many newer samovars use electricity and heat water and are similar to electric water boilers. Antique samovars are often displayed because of their beauty and craftsmanship. The book mentions a heavy, brass samovar that "clanged mercilessly" as they hiked on narrow trails.

Russian samovar (photo from Wikipedia)

What wondrous new words have you encountered during recent reading?


  1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Your first two words are new to me but I do have a glass samovar, it's purely for show but I guess I could use it.

    So glad I found you blog. I look forward to following.

  2. Martha, how interesting! Samovars may also be made out of glass. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Awesome! I think it especially grand that you visit all the participants in Wednesday Words!
    All of these words you share today are of the kind that look familiar and that's about it. But the definitions - well, except for dragoman - are foreign so it's a good thing I stopped by. I learned something.

  4. I've heard of samovar, but the others are totally new to me. Thank you for your kind words. I look forward to your review of Gardens of Grief.

  5. Wow, great words! Interesting notes on their use and relevance in history. Here's mine:

  6. samovar doesnt sound like a metal container- more like the name of some place.

  7. Wow, some really new words I have never heard of! I hope you enjoyed the book and looking forward to your review too :)

  8. Those are all new to me. Interesting meme.

  9. I knew what a samovar was, but the others were new to me. Thanks for sharing them!

  10. I just finished reading Michael Gilmore's The War On Words, a fascinating look at how American writers censored themselves before and after the Civil War.

    Reading the book reminded me that I've been getting lazy with my vocabulary. I recommend it because almost every sentence had two or three powerful and carefully chosen words.

  11. A great post. I think it is fascinating to re-read old posts just to see how much our vocabulary has increased, our use of words improved.

  12. I think I've seen efendi in crossword puzzles. That's a beautiful samovar! And a new word to me.

  13. This is an excellent meme to help improve your vocabulary. Thanks for all the comments!

  14. Thanks for sharing these wondrous words Suko! That samovar is very cool looking.

  15. I've heard the word 'samovar' before, but I didn't know what it was until your post. Thanks for introducing me to something new!


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