Recently I was presented with a beautiful gift – a book by Dominick Tyler called Uncommon Ground: A word-lover’s guide to the British landscape. The book is the product of a year that Tyler spent travelling the length and breadth of the British Isles to photograph specific features of the natural world.
Realising how limited was his vocabulary for naming the things he saw in the landscape – ‘There was a hill, then a dip then some lumpy bits and then it got stony’ – Tyler began collecting words for landscape features that would improve upon the vague generalisations we tend to use today, such as hill, rock or stream. The terms he collected had invariably been used for generations by ancestors who depended on specific words to give directions, tell a story, find a place, or describe the land on which they worked.
The words collected by Tyler – words like zawn, jackstraw, clitter, logan…
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