What do you call a narrow, virtually hidden stream which trickles along a densely green moor? What about the name of the shadows that are cast against the moorland clouds as they drift across the blue sky on a windy day?
In Irish Gaelic, these two natural events have been given specific names: caochan and rionnach maoim.
As writer Robert Macfarlane explains in a recent Guardian article, the Gaelic language is filled with such dazzling onomastic treasures. Unfortunately, in a world preoccupied with mirco-blogging, bookmarking, and media-sharing, many people have forgotten what real twitter sounds like or what pirr, the Shetlandic name for the light touch of wind that dances upon the skin, feels like.
In a growing plea to preserve these names and rediscover these experiences, Macfarlane and others are lobbying for “rewilding” the language we use to describe the non-virtual world around us. Click here for an editorial that explains more about this movement.