The Water Glossary/An Sanasán Uisce
Paperback Book, Lithograph Print, 148 x 210mm, 60 pages, Self Published, Second Edition 2016, ISBN 9780995636101
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Influenced by the work of academic and writer Robert MacFarlane, who in his book Landmarks celebrates the power of language to shape our sense of the world, The Water Glossary addresses the complex interrelations of landscape and language.
Over time and through myriad languages and dialects, an “astonishing lexis for landscape” has developed and, in turn, formed our identity and understanding of the nature of being. However, the diminishing use of nature-related words has become indicative of the relationship we now have with landscape; our vocabulary, designed to accurately and richly define the intricacies of our natural environment, is succumbing to homogenisation. Language, both culturally and ecologically, is a fundamental means of connection and of understanding, so when there is a shift in the way we describe landscape, there ultimately is a change in our relation to it.
The Water Glossary aims to counteract this lexical dissolution by forging, in the Irish language, a collection of words related to this most prevalent element. Water, as well as being embedded in our cultural, geographical, and mythical psyche, perennially plays, on both local and global levels, a preeminent role in today’s political and environmental discourse. The Irish lexicon illustrates how the language of this island’s dwellers shaped their notion of place, their knowledge of the environment and climactic nuance, by providing a vocabulary profuse in imagery and suggestive of keen observation and understanding.
The Water Glossary essentially re-produces a descriptive landscape, layered with words that have been collected from a variety of sources including old texts dating back to the 9th century, current online dictionaries, through social media callouts and drawn from a diverse range of Irish speakers, including Connemara fishermen, organic farmers, librarians, weather forecasters, scholars, teachers, priests and poets.
It includes a foreword by writer Robert MacFarlane and contributions by broadcaster, writer & editor Sinead Gleeson and visual art curator Mary Cremin.
Photography: Roland Paschhoff