Bill Long 10/24/08
In this essay I would like to "finish" a list of "r's" that I have before me, and that includes radd, radappertization, raddle, radiogoniometer, rafiq, reciprocornous, recipiangle, rathe, raschel, recollet and ransescent.
1. Words derived from Latin and ending in escent emphasize an emitting, a process or a "becoming." Thus, luminiscent means "emitting light." Ransescent, derived from the Latin rancescere means "becoming rancid." Rancid, by the way, is derived from the Latin rancidus, which means "stinking" or "rank." While on ransescent, I couldn't avoid seeing rancelman, which is a a Scottish word for a local officer formally appointed in Orkney or Shetland to inquire into thefts and petty offenses and to maintain order in his district. Thus one could speak of the rancelmen of the Shetland Parishes.
2. Rafiq is an Arabic word, which came into English in the 18th century, and means a travelling companion or escort, especially one hired to negotiate safe passage through his or other lands. Burton's Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah (1856), describing much of his explorations in the Arabic world, has this: "The payment of a small sum secures..a 'Rafik,' and this 'friend,' after once engaging in the task, will be faithful." As I hope you see, one Arabic-loan word is preferable to using a dozen words to describe him.
3. I have already described one definition of raddle (the twisted, horizontal section of a fence) here, but I would like to add another definition of raddle: red ochre. That color is, what can I say? an almost copperish-red. I found this web page, which tells of "authentic" Wildland adventures through Namibia. Scroll down until you run into the half-naked woman who seems to be painted red. The Himba woman has actually covered her skin in red ochre as protection from the sun. Here is a sculpture from 1984 entitled Raddle. It is made from jute woolpack, dry raddle (red ochre), horse grease, steel pack hooks and jute bindding and is by Antony Hamilton. Wonderfully suggestive sculpture it is...
4. Radappertization is a term taken from manufacturing technology and named after Nicolas-Francois Appert (1750-1841), a French confectioner and inventer of this method of food preservation. He did it for Napolean's troops... What is it? The treatment of food involving heat treatment and significant doses of ionizing radiation, so as to reduce the number of microorganisms sufficiently to prevent future spoilage. The food thus sterilized can be stored without refrigeration. One source I read says that the field of low-dose treatment of packaged goods to preserve them seems to have developed more than one word for itself. Not only is there radappertization; one also has radicidation and radurization. The former is defined by the OED as "the treatment of food with ionizing radiation in doses sufficent to reduce the number of viable pathogenic microorganisms to an undetectable level." Here, however, you use 3-10 kilograys, while radappertization, in case you were desperately interested in finding this out, uses 20-30 kilograys, which radurization employes 1-10 kilograys. So, there appears to be some overlap between radurization and radicidation, but someone with more experience in the field has to rescue me here...
5. Raad can refer to two things, both rare or historical, according to the OED. But if obsolescence was the central criterion for not studying a word, I would never have looked at kyestein. The name raad, derived from the Arabic ra'd, meaning "thunder," is the electric catfish (Malapterurus electricus). Certainly the fish isn't obsolete; the word raad to describe it is rare. The raad is found in the Nile and other rivers and swamps of western tropical Africa (hence the Arabic root), with electric cells in fatty tissue beneath the skin which are capable of delivering a powerful electric shock. Here is a picture and more detailed description. The genus name tells us all we really need to know. Malapterurus (named by Lacepede in 1803) is short for Malacopterurus, which incorporates three Greek words: (1) malakos (soft); (2) pteron (wing, fin); and (3) oura (tail). So, we have the "soft winged tailed electric fish.."
The other use of raad is not just rare but is considered "historical" by the OED-makers. It is a Dutch/Afrikaans word referring to a council or assembly in the 18th-19th century Dutch-speaking areas of South Africa. Or, it could refer to the legislative assembly of a Boer republic or, generally, any council or board. German has the word Rat to express the same idea. From 1973: "The Minister of Labour..says that in no circumstances will he sit in the same 'raad' as a non-white."
6. Reciprocornous is rare and almost unattested in English, but it is so cool that I will mention it. It means "having horns that turn backwards and forwards like those of a ram." The "re" means "back" and the "pro" means "forward." So, if you want to come across as a precocious person, have this word at the ready for the occasion when someone asks why you like rams...
7. I hadn't known before now that a recipiangle (derived from the French) is "an instrument formerly used (chiefly in France) for measuring and laying off angles, esp. in fortification." But Chambers' Cyclopedia from the mid-18th century, relying on the 1721 dictionary printed at Trevoux, France (story here), says: "The recipiangle ..is usually very simple, in form of a square or rather a bevel; consisting of two arms or branches rivetted together and yet movable like a sector on the centre or rivet." Here is a picture of a bevel, if you would like to see one...
8. A raschel, derived from the name of the classical French actress Rachel (nee Eliabeth Rachel Felix; 1820-1858) is a kind of knitting machine or a coarse warp knitting produced by such a machine. Why it is named after her isn't clear to me.. Nevetheless, here is a raschel bag sold from China. Maybe if I did more shopping I wouldn't need to study as much--because I might run into all the words in the malls. I doubt it, though.
9. The radiogoniometer is a device for determining the direction from which radio waves are coming without the need for a rotating aerial. Also called simply a goniometer. Goniometer comes from two Greek words for "measuring" and "angles." Here is a picture of the "Bellini-Tosi Radiogoniometer" from 1907. I wonder if our TV meterologists, who no doubt have spent their lives poring over weather maps, have ever used a radiogoniometer..
Still two words left to go (rathe; recolet), but these will await another essay.