In which are explored the matrices of text, textile, and exile through metaphor, networks, poetics, etymologies, etc., with an occasional subplot relating these elements to Iggy and the Stooges.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

textile vocabularies

I've been struck often that the Northern European (English? Anglo-Saxon etc?) words for textile instruments are childish in nature:

needle, bobbin, spindle, treadle, heddle, shuttle, raddle, teasel, niddy-noddy, etc.

Can you think of others? Please post suggestions to this lexical roster.

Because "loom," etymologically, works its way back to meaning "that familiar old tool," the "le" suffixes at the end of these words suggest intimacy, the way German or Yiddish diminutives work to confer affection on the named one: "Hansel" and "Gretel" rather than the formal "Johannes" and "Margrethe."

Sounds that create intimacy and proximateness (closeness) and that are also fun for kids (or adults) to say suggest that these were instruments and tools of quotidien familiarity. Does it also suggest a slight infantilization or diminution of status, as in "women's work," or am I trying to introduce conflict into this edenic scene of cozy domesticity?


  1. addendum:
    no I don't think it represents infantalization;
    but it does invoke the notion of "play"

  2. Thanks, Suzanne. When I figure out how, I will add your blog to my sidebar. I found this lovely sentence on Wiki-p:

    "Traditionally the niddy-noddy was used to the rhythm of a song, the opening line of which ran, ‘Niddy-noddy, niddy-noddy, two heads and one body.’"[1]

  3. If the kid want to know about textile instruments, maybe I can give he or her a hand.