World Languages Collection at Tūranga receives warm welcome

“It is my first time to see Korean books in a library!” an elated Donggi Jun said when he saw the shelves of books in his native Korean, a part of the World Languages Collection Ngā Reo o te Ao / World Languages, Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4 of Tūranga.

Jun hails from South Korea but has been a Christchurch resident for years. “I’m so happy to see lots of popular authors. A lot of us miss our country. These books will be a source of comfort,” added the 58-year-old who also renewed his library membership card so he can start borrowing Korean books “as often as I can”.

Jun is only one of many migrants who were delighted to see the World Languages Collection since Tūranga opened on Friday 12 October. The collection aimed to reflect the thriving cultural diversity of Christchurch. It enables migrant communities to maintain a connection with their language and culture, as well as provide study materials for English language learners.

At present, the World Languages Collection at Tūranga comprises of books in 13 languages including Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Thai. In addition, it has magazines and periodicals in Afrikaans, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese and Russian. It also includes an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) section for English language learners.

Customer browsing the World Languages Collection, Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4, Opening day, Tūranga, Flickr TU-2018-10-12-136

Olivier Hoel, who left France to work in Christchurch a year ago, was thankful to find his beloved French titles housed at Tūranga:

“It was a great surprise when I saw them first at Peterborough Library and now, they’re here, more accessible in a such a lovely place.”

CoverVisitors to the city were equally impressed. “We are in the wrong city! How come you have this!?” a South African visiting from Wellington exclaimed while lifting an edition of the Afrikaans magazine Rooi rose from the rack. She was also able to find a book in the Afrikaans section written by a friend, quickly getting a snapshot for Instagram.

German tourist Horst Schnidt was also pleased. Looking up from reading the pages of German periodical Der Spiegel, he commented, “This new library is in itself amazing. But having items in various languages like German makes it more special.”

The collection has been well-used. An average of 30 items are being marked “used” every day, at times peaking up at 50. This doesn’t include the many more being borrowed. Many customers also joined the library or renewed their membership (like Jun) just to access the collection.

ESOL tours have proven to be quite popular as well. Over 350 individuals from various cultural backgrounds have been toured around Tūranga since its opening and shown World Languages materials (adult and children’s) including the eResources they can access from the library website. Among them were students from Hagley Community College, Papanui High School (Adult ESOL Department), and Wilkinson’s English School.

“The ESOL items are a big help to me,” said Chinese student Rita Xu who was also thrilled to see the Chinese books section, the most extensive in the collection. “My friends will be happy. I will tell them about it.”

The collection, however, is not only popular with English language learners but also with students of other languages. For instance, German language students from Hagley College were keen on the German books and magazines that could aid them master German.

No doubt, the World Languages Collection in Tūranga is a hit.  As Anne Scorgie from South Africa puts it, “Having this collection shows that Christchurch is really now recognising its growing diversity. It’s a great step.”

Hayley Concepcion and Crystal Betito
Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4, Tūranga

Donation of Polish books to Christchurch City Libraries

On Saturday 9th December, Central Library Peterborough hosted Mr Zbigniew Gniatkowskted, the Polish Ambassador to New Zealand; Mrs Winsome Dormer, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland for the South Island; Anna Gruczyska, President of the Polish Association in Christchurch; and Krysia Wiek, member of the Polish community in Christchurch. The Polish Embassy kindly gifted books in Polish, and about Poland, to the library.

The Polish collection has been a part of the Christchurch City Libraries’ World languages collection for several years now, established after the original Polish Library at the Hereford Street Community House perished in the February 2011 earthquake, with the entire collection of books lost.

In addition to purchases made by the Christchurch City Libraries, the Polish collection contains book donations from members, and on this occasion from the Polish Embassy. In addition to a number of books in Polish, the donation includes several books on Poland and Polish history in English, for the Christchurch City Libraries collection.

View Polish language items in our collection.

After presenting the collection to the Christchurch City Libraries our guests stayed for a morning tea – delicious polish buns made by Krysia – and a chat with the Central Library Peterborough team.

Information and photos from:
Anna Gruczynska
President of the Polish Association in Christchurch
Annie M
Central Library Peterborough

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week 2017

This year Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) has shifted from its usual end of July timing to 11-17 Mahuru (September). This year we also celebrate the 30th anniversary of te reo Māori as an official language of Aotearoa.

The theme for this year’s Māori Language Week is –

Kia ora te reo – Let the Māori language live

In celebration of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori we will be publishing a blog post each day incorporating te reo Māori or highlighting te reo Māori resources.

Te Reo Māori i Te Whare Pukapuka – Māori Language at The Library

Christchurch City Libraries – Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi will be celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori with Wā Kōrero/Storytimes throughout the week with te reo Māori songs and stories. There will also be a couple of storytimes sessions extra to our usual schedule delivered by a bilingual presenter at Linwood and Aranui.

See our events calendar for a session near you.

Preschool storytimes
All our wā kōrero/storytimes sessions during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori will include Māori language stories/songs

If kapa haka is more your thing, get your takahia on at Aranui Library, 2-3pm on Thursday 14 September where St James School – Te Kura o Hato Hemi will be performing.

Adding te reo Māori to your library experience can be as straightforward as the tap of a screen – why not simply try out the reo Māori option on our māu e tuku (self issue) machines?

Using māu e tuku/self issue
There are a variety of language options on our self-issue machines including Te Reo Māori.

Or learn a new kupu (word) by reading our bilingual library signs or even just learn to say the Māori name of your local library.

Mahuru Māori

Beyond the official week celebrating te reo, a further initiative, Mahuru Māori, encourages te reo Māori speakers of all levels of ability to commit to speaking te reo Māori only during the month of Mahuru/September. Other options are to speak te reo Māori anake during a chosen day of the week, or for one week of the month. Te reo speakers can join the Mahuru Māori Facebook Group for support and help to complete the challenge. For te reo tweets during September follow @MahuruMaori.

Ngā Rauemi Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Resources

Whaowhia te kete mātauranga – Fill the basket of knowledge

There are many, many resources available for anyone wanting to improve their te reo Māori knowledge. Here are some suggestions for filling your basket.

Kōrero Māori ki… – Speak Māori at…

In addition to online resources and titles available at your local library, the following initiatives and events can help bring some te reo into your day.

  • A cafe – Order your drink of choice in te reo at any of the cafes in our libraries (South, Upper Riccarton and Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre) or at The Kitchen cafe on the ground floor of the Christchurch City Council building on Hereford St and from 11-16 September you’ll get an extra sweet treat to go with your drink. Need help with how to place your cafe order in te reo? Te Taura Whiri o Te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) has produced this fantastic guide to awhi you.
  • The post office – NZ Post is celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori this year with a range of stamps featuring Māori kupu (words) to do with technology. Learn new words like “ahokore” (wifi), “Pūnaha Kimi Ahunga” (Global Positioning System) or “waka hiko” (electric car).
  • Cover of Disney Moana Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack : Piano, Vocal, GuitarThe movies (Moana Reo Māori) – Disney’s hugely successful animated feature with a Polynesian setting, Moana, has been dubbed entirely in te reo Māori (including the waiata) and will screen in cinemas during Māori Language Week… for free (though online booking fees may apply). There are limited session times so get in quick for tickets. For a taste of what to expect, watch a video of the cast singing to Taika Waititi and whanau (via Facetime).
  • Anywhere – Te Puni Kōkiri is distributing special “kōrero” badges so if you see someone wearing one it’s a tohu that they can carry out a conversation in te reo Māori and are happy to do so. Give them a cheery, “kia ora” if nothing else!

Ngā Rauemi mō Ngā Tamariki – Children’s Resources

Search our catalogue

We’ve also made lists of modern classic picture books in Te Reo Māori and Māori stories for older children.

If you know of other resources, events or initiatives in Ōtautahi to help people celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, please feel free to let us know about them in the comments below.

Memories, mind-wandering, and the evolution of language

“It was a dark and chilly winter’s night, but the crowd in the foyer of the Charles Luney Auditorium at St. Margaret’s College didn’t let that deter them. They were bundled up warm, busy chatting to their friends, and keen to get into the auditorium to hear Auckland University’s Michael Corballis present ‘Mental Travels in Space and Time’.”

Did you just get an image in your head of how that scene might have looked? If you’ve ever been into the Charles Luney Auditorium before, your mind will have travelled back there, remembered how it looked, and added in people in winter clothes and cold dark weather to suit the story.

If you haven’t been to this particular location, you might have remembered your old school auditorium instead, or maybe the foyer of the old Christchurch Town Hall or Isaac Theatre Royal, and pictured the scene as if it was happening there. Either way, regardless of how you imagined this scene, you based it upon your memories of a time you were in a particular location, and what you saw and heard, and how it made you feel.

You have just used your brain for mental time travel – using memories as a way to imagine ourselves in places and times that we are not currently in. That was the topic of Professor Corballis’ speech, held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Society Te Apārangi. The audience learnt about the hippocampus – the part of the brain which helps form memories of events, and which reinterprets those memories and helps us daydream and imagine ourselves in new places and times.

It’s because of the hippocampus that we can empathise, and put ourselves in another person’s situation, why authors and storytellers can come up with fictional made-up stories, and why readers sometimes get so caught up in the stories they are reading – our brain is letting us experience the story in the same way as it would if we were actually living it.

The audience also learnt what happens if the hippocampus is damaged. If this happens, you can’t form memories of the things you have done, but you remember skills that you have learnt. Could you imagine not having any memories of specific events? Or having others tell you that you have done something or gone somewhere with them, but you don’t remember doing it? Yet at the same time, you don’t have any difficulty remembering how to carry out skills such as walking, talking, or drawing? I can’t imagine that personally, but we heard about some individuals for whom this is normal.

Cover of The truth about language

The speech Professor Corballis gave was entertaining and informative, and these same characteristics come through in his new book The Truth About Language. I really enjoyed how accessible this book is – no matter your background, the conversational writing style is easy to read. With anecdotes, quotes from literature, and references to historical and contemporary linguistic theories, Corballis tells the story of how language came to be, and why it is so different in different countries and communities.

Don’t worry if you aren’t a linguist – you will still be able to understand the points Corballis is making, and enjoy the information found in this book. For those readers who do want a more in-depth understanding of the evolution of language, however, the book includes references to other theories and theorists, generous explanatory notes, and a comprehensive bibliography to guide further reading.

From the big bang to the different languages used world-wide in 2017, there are so many aspects of language – body language, pronunciation and sounds, grammar, and so much more. Michael Corballis’ The Truth About Language is a fun way to learn about this fascinating subject, and Christchurch City Libraries has a range of his other books that delve further into the subject. So, if language, the mind, and psychology are things you’re interested in, then check them out on our catalogue!

The Truth About Language: What it is and where it came from
by Michael Corballis
Published by Auckland University Press
ISBN: 9781869408633

Find out more

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week 2016

The dates for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) this year are 4 – 11 Hōngongoi (4-11 July) and this year the theme is –

Te reo tautoko – behind you all the way

The phrase “Ākina te reo – using the Māori to show support” is also being used as part of the campaign which includes celebrity ambassadors like Canterbury’s own Andrew Mehrtens making more of an effort to improve their te reo skills.

Te Reo Māori i Te Whare pukapuka – Māori Language at The Library

Cover of Kanohi: My faceChristchurch City Libraries – Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi will be celebrating Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori with special bilingual storytimes throughout the week. See our events calendar for one near you.

The Wā Kōrero (Storytime) session at New Brighton will have a special guest performer in Kitty Brown, co-author of a series of te reo Māori board books for children.

The kids from Merrin School will be raising the roof at Upper Riccarton Library on Wednesday, 6 July with a rousing kapa haka performance. Not to be missed!

We’re also hosting a special event on The History of Te Reo Māori in Children’s Publishing on Thursday, 7 July at Fendalton Library.

But there’s no need to attend a special event to add te reo Māori to your library experience -why not simply try out the reo Māori option on our self checkout machines?

Te Reo Māori self checkout
Te Reo Māori self checkout, Flickr File Reference: 2014-07-10-IMG_0669

Read our Te Kupu o Te Wiki (Word of the week) blog posts.

Or learn a new kupu (word) by reading our bilingual library signs or even just learn to say the Māori name of your local library.

Ngā Rauemi Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Resources

Whaowhia te kete mātauranga – Fill the basket of knowledge

There are many, many resources available for anyone wanting to improve their te reo Māori knowledge. Here are some suggestions for filling your basket.

Hākinakina – Sports

Ākina te reo - support the language

Ngā Rauemi mō Ngā Tamariki – Children’s Resources

Download one of our colouring in pages [39KB PNG, 354KB PDF]


Cover of Ko wai tōku ingoa?Search our catalogue

We’ve also made lists of modern classic picture books in Te Reo Māori and Māori stories for older children.

Ka pai rawe Finnian. Kia kaha ki te Kōrero Māori.

Tēnā koutou kātoa. Ngā mihi ki a koutou.

Even after 40 years of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (1975 – 2015) celebrations, pronunciation of this taonga continues to challenge us.

Finnian Galbraith, a year 11 student at Kāpiti College shares his thoughts on this. The clip has gone viral and let’s hope it generates a lot of kōrero. Ka pai rawe Finnian.  Kia kaha ki te Kōrero Māori.

Keep locked in to Te Wiki o te Reo Māori with Ngā Kete Wānanga o Ōtautahi for daily posts and links to help you and your pronunciation.

Mango languages gives you the world

LogoWhen I was travelling through Jordan, our guide pointed out some hills across from the Dead Sea. “That is Israel, we are still officially at war with them”, he said. It reminded me that New Zealand’s isolation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Then I got a job at the University College of London where everyone I worked with seemed to be multi-lingual. This made me see our isolation in another light. Kiwis can’t pop over to Germany for the weekend to improve their German! So there is also a loss when your nearest neighbours are an ocean away and Australian. Times though are changing with immigration, tourism and cheaper air travel our island is becoming increasingly open to other cultures and language.

It is not surprising that with more fluid borders that people are keen to learn languages other than their own. This is where Mango languages can come in handy. You do not have to worry about scratched discs or overdue fines – instead you can learn over 60 languages online. Mango will let you learn from basic right through to advanced levels, with grammar and cultural notes.

So if you are looking for ways to learn a foreign language or need a better grasp on English then this is a great place to start. Mango for languages is available from home with your library card number and password/PIN or in libraries.

Squeaky clean reading?

Cover of Holy Sh*t
Holy Sh*t: A brief history of swearing

Today I stumbled upon an app that I can quite safely say I will never use. Clean Reader can instantly sanitize any of the books in its store to make them squeaky clean and free of profanity.

Occasionally we get a customer who does feel that a book contains too much bad language.

I have read this book from cover to cover and it is disgusting!”

Libraries have, and always will be about choice. I choose not to read nasty psychokiller thrillers but I don’t mind a bit of cussing. I don’t have a problem with someone else wanting to read these books – actually that isn’t quite true as I really do think they are mysoginistic and nasty, but I will always defend the right for the library to purchase these books and for our customers to read them.

So don’t expect to see a clean reader attached to our eBooks, but it is out there if you need it. I wonder if there is an app that can remove nasty sadistic psychos, probably not. Maybe I could make one?

Toku ara o te reo Māori / My te reo journey / Moja te reo pot

It was enchanting, impressive and compelling from the very first moment. As all the best things in life, it happened so unexpectedly and it was something completely different! Although my life has been kindly providing me with opportunities of diving into various languages ever since I can remember, learning te reo Māori has been without a doubt one of the most amazing journeys I have ever taken.

Te Kupu o te Reo Maori

It started in rather unspectacular circumstances though. I was sitting in a pub in Hanmer Springs one day last winter, leisurely browsing through the Saturday issue of The Press. An article about te reo classes caught my eye. I was after some Māori language classes since I landed in Aotearoa, but I hadn’t found anything that would be:

  • holistic (embracing the language as well as the culture and tikanga)
  • fun
  • affordable.

The classes were taught by an English teacher at Burnside High school, the excellent Regan Stokes, with the support of his two friends Joshua T. Toki and Damien Taylor. As the article stated, classes were based on koha donations and were offering a relaxed and informal encounter with te reo – so they were perfect for people with other commitments or for those who just wanted to check out what te reo is all about.

I started attending classes weekly and learning has never been so much fun. I have loved schooling since I was a child. Learning and sharing knowledge has always been exciting to me, but I had never imagined it could be so entertaining, encompassing various skills and styles – not just visual and auditory but kinaesthetic and imaginative as well.

What surprised me first was that so many words and vowels resonated with the sounds and words of my own Slovenian language. I felt strangely at home, producing these first utterances. Pronunciation in my own language is much closer to te reo pronunciation than English, so I found it quite easy to grasp its logic (I am still far from mastering pronunciation itself – that takes time!) Every language sounds different to every pair of ears. To me, te reo sounds playful and uplifting.

I can imagine anyone who was brought up to speak in languages with highly developed vocabulary, as well as complicated and often very confusing grammar, would agree that te reo’s nature is truly economical. Readers may know, that Māori language will often use what already exists in order to make up a word. Deciphering the words in te reo can as a consequence be a special pleasure, it’s like a taonga hunt and is highly rewarding for beginners as it quickly makes sense.

The economical aspect of te reo encourages constant repetitions, which give the language a joyful yet poetical note. Repetition, whether it is whole words or the rhythm, is one of the core elements of poetry and nursery rhymes. Its importance was and still is strongly manifested in the religious chants and rituals of most tribes. It does not work only as an aesthetic device, it affects readers and listeners subconsciously, on an intuitive level.


It almost seems contradictory, but the economy of te reo is where the most enchanting part of it, its depth, emanates from. To me it seems as the whole language exists on a totally different level. It is basically impossible to understand and grasp this language without understanding and elucidating tikanga and essence (not just meaning) behind certain words. Direct translation of one word to another just doesn’t do justice to the meaning. It is not only the stories, that most kupu carry with them, it is the entire cosmology of Māori culture, the view and understanding of the world that radiates out of them. I am mesmerised again and again by these luminous kōrero that are hiding behind so many words. It seems to me every word is a treasure on its own and the layers of one single word are sometimes countless. Everything becomes even more complex when sentences are knitted together – the language itself then almost feels three dimensional. It is expanding in so many directions and on many levels. Digging after meanings and untangling the karakia sometimes feels as if you would be diving through the endless layers of Tangaroa or Ranginui.

These two features – economy and depth – are distinctive features of poetry as well. And te reo is an outstandingly poetical language. It is not just the structure of words and repetition of sounds that make it melodic and rhythmical, it is the structure of sentences, the grammar itself which brings te reo’s utterance, articulation closer to te ātaahua of poetry forms (ātaahua can be translated as “beauty” or “beautiful”, but it actually means “carefully shaped”). For me the essence of a perfect art form, let it be literary or visual or musical or any other, lies in the harmony, in perfection of its form. A work of art is perfect as it is, there is nothing one would add to it or remove from it, as that would only ruin it. So too is te reo. Its economy shapes it so sophisticatedly and that also nurtures its inspiring ambiguity and beauty. This language is potently charged with metaphor and one can trace its figurativeness even in everyday, informal talk.

Maori books

Shirley Library. Flickr 2013-04-10-IMG_5757

The view of the world that opens through te reo is entirely different to the one that my own language or English has furnished me with. All the languages that I have learned are of Indo-European origin and they all hold on to a very strong anthropocentric position. They derive from a point of view of a subject, of a human as the centre of the universe. How we, as human beings, see and comprehend the world around us and how we relate to this world is strongly rooted in the language. It is the language we are born in that has a great impact on our comprehension of the world and our relation to it, because we relate to everything inside of us and outside of us through this language.

Te Reo Māori is far from being anthropocentric – rather the opposite. Subject and verb are structurally very important elements of grammar in most Indo-European languages. All language classes I’ve attended started with learning how to say TO BE and later on TO HAVE. That doesn’t happen in te reo. Te reo doesn’t even know the verbs “to be” or “to have” (and how cool is that!?) In te reo, one wouldn’t say “I like the book”, but “The book is good to me.” THE BOOK IS GOOD TO ME.

I am struck again and again how differently this language expresses the relations between concepts and notions – so unlike those that are deeply rooted in me. Concepts that other languages regard as immanent and omnipresent, like concepts of substance, existence, possession and ownership, are quite foreign to te reo. Less subjective concepts (at least to my understanding) seem to prevail in it: relationship, belonging, coalescence and mutual responsibility. Human being is placed in a more humble, yet more connected position in te reo view of the world. To me, this view makes so much more sense.

Te Reo Māori self checkout

Te Reo Māori self checkout. July 2014. Flickr 2014-07-10-IMG_0669

Learning te reo makes me often reflect on Slovenian, as well as English. Lately it has made me think a lot about the history and survival of my language. My country gained independence in 1991 and that’s when it appeared on the map of the world (it looks like a small chicken in the right bottom corner of Europe). For a long time throughout history, my culture and my tangata existed only through the language. Most of the time we were part of other bigger and more powerful countries, empires or other forms of constitutional unions (like Yugoslavia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, Illyrian Provinces etc). In comparison to other European nations we were not numerous, we had no power and we were not landowners. We can boast only a few aristocratic families in our whakapapa. In our history, we have been Christianized, survived all sorts of systems of government (including principalities, provinces, empires, kingdoms, federations), been occupied and/or governed by numerous foreign forces (including French, German, Italian and Austro-Hungarian just in the last 200 years), battled through the first and second world war (and worst of all our own civil war) and the Balkan conflict in 1990s. All this time, we kept our language (despite all other languages which were official, taught in schools and used in legal matters). It was the language where the consciousness of culture, its uniqueness and identity came from.

Whanau display at Shirley Library

Whanau display at Shirley Library. Flickr CCL-2014-03-16-Shirley-Whanau-Display-DSC_04369

The first book in the Slovenian language was written and printed in the 16th century, a few decades before Shakespeare’s first works were published. So we had a lot to catch up with, which we did. Mostly in the Romantic era and later on in the 20th century – with prolific poets and authors writing in the Slovenian language and for Slovenian readers. Newspapers had been published since the beginning of the 19th century and we established our first publishing house dedicated to children’s literature after World War Two. The strongest and most passionate advocates of independence at the end of 1980s came from a group of authors, poets and intellectuals, centred around the literary magazine Nova revija. Today, we are the second country in Europe by number of books published per year per capita (right after the United Kingdom). We have survived because of our language and literature.

All our stories and histories are unique and complex – there is no point in comparing them as they stem from entirely diverse circumstances. I like to see my history as a story of language, its power and importance. Now, it seems more inspiring and meaningful to me than ever before.
I feel deeply grateful, that I can walk this rewarding journey of te reo, because it has given me so much more than just basic phrases in another foreign language! In utu I would like to share the story of my language (Utu has a wide variety of meanings in te reo. Here, it is used in a sense of reciprocity of kind deeds, of a gift exchange, that creates and establishes permanent and personal relationships). Let it linger as a little reminder of the importance of te reo and the need to nurture it.

Te Reo Māori classes in Ōtautahi

Te Reo Māori resources

Here are some resources which I find very useful in learning te reo Māori:

Cover of He Whakamārama Cover of Te Aka Cover of Reed Book Cover of Ka Whawhai Tonu matou

Masha Oliver
Library Assistant, Te Kete Wānanga o Papa Kōhatu

The Stuff of Life

Books as a single entity are all very well, but I’ve been thinking lately about the individual words that make up the things I read.

cover of Outer Dark

Cormac McCarthy will do that to you. Pick up any of his books, from The Road, the 2007 Pulitzer Prize winner,  to No Country For Old Men, Suttree, and the two that are coming out as movies this year, The Counsellor and Child of God and there is a wealth of wondrous words throughout.

Then the sun buckled and dark fell like a shout – Outer Dark

I’m currently reading Outer Dark, written in 1968. It is set in the last part of the 19th century, as near as I can tell, and this bleak, gut wrenching book is filled with wonderful words that fit this period and I found myself writing some unknown words on my bookmark to check later in the dictionary. He is known for making up words and I love this about him, he feels unfettered by just the English language, despite having a rich love of it.

…the house was grown with a rich velour of moss and lichen and brooded in a palpable miasma of rot. – Outer Dark

It had me thinking about how each word crafted into a piece of writing adds to the whole, some you don’t notice, but some leave you amazed or confused or thoroughly impressed. Does Mr McCarthy for example, go hunting dictionaries for words that are obscure to colour this prose, or is he just incredibly well read? His turn of phrase and the pictures he conjures in my mind are just beautiful sometimes, well, often. I often hear myself saying words like ‘cool’, or ‘awesome’ out loud to myself as I read, obviously I don’t share his breadth and depth of language.

By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp – The Road

So I’ve compiled a little list of some of the discovered words from Outer Dark:

  • moiled – whirled or churned ceaselessly; twist; eddy.
  • penduluming: what a pendulum can be caught doing when it feels inclined to.
  • palmoutward- not a new word, he must have decided to run the two words together, just because he could.
  • malediction – the utterance of a curse.
  • recrements – refuse separated from anything; dross.
  • consubstantial -of one and the same substance, essence, or nature.
  • moonwraught – another lovely combo-word.
  • revenant – a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost.

My two favourite words at present would have to plinth and moist, just for the way they sound when you say them.

McCarthy is rarely interviewed, avoids book tours or signings, and said about this:

I don’t think it’s good for your head, you spend a lot of time thinking about how to write a book, you probably shouldn’t be talking about it. You probably should be doing it.

Do you have favourite words, or authors whose use of language you find inspiring?