Looking at Onomatopoeia and Metaphor, Simile, Collective Nouns, and my Delusional Dictionary. For definitions of those, click here to read the introductory post to the series.
This week’s words:Ululate, Unmoving, Unkindness, Undertaker.
To ululate is to howl, wail, lament loudly. Although not generally considered onomatopoeic, in the right context, the verb can convey the loud, wavering sound that is ululation, especially that expressed as grief by certain tribes. ‘After the sudden death of her second child, Ursula, normally a silent forbearing woman, ululated long, loud and desperately in lament for his loss.’ The letter ‘u’ doesn’t lend itself generously to onomatopoeia, but there are utterances such as ‘ugh’, ‘uh-uh’, ‘uh-oh’ and ‘um’, all of which words express feelings as the sounds themselves.
Simile: Unmoving as a tombstone
Generally, tombstones are pretty fixed, so this is another apposite collective noun. Can we add others to the idea of immovability? The Earth itself sometimes shifts, so what do we have that might be considered unmoving? Unmoving as a bigot’s attitude, unmoving as prejudice, unmoving as greed, and, on a more positive note; unmoving as true love, unmoving as kindness? I’m sure you can find others.
Collective Nouns: Unkindness of ravens
An unkindness of ravens seems a little unfair; there are plenty of other creatures that feast on the dead, vultures, for example. But ravens have attracted this description, possibly through the folk belief that the Tower of London’s White Tower would collapse if the six captive ravens were to leave the site. Even worse, apparently the whole country would descend into chaos. Of course, we’ve already descended into chaos with the Brexit fiasco, but the ravens remain stubbornly in place: does that presage some even worse disaster? In spite of the many varied tales surrounding these birds, the probability is that the myth was developed during the Victorian era, perhaps as a way to encourage tourism?
Delusional Dictionary: Undertaker: an individual who has chosen a source of income never likely to die out; someone who derives pleasure from the misfortune of others; a career choice for the greedy; a social vulture.
For those learning English as a language, there’s a useful guide to pronunciation here, and Facebook hosts a great group you can join here.
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