This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Friday, 17 May 2013

Word To Use Today: whakapapa.

Whakapapa is a Māori word. It lists the descent of all living things from the gods to the present time. Since the gods made everything then even rocks possess whakapapa, and this means that whakapapa is also a way of organising everything everyone knows.

Amongst the Māori people whakapapa is an essential part of who they are: it has a role in everything from sports teams selection, to health records.

For the many English speakers who live far away from New Zealand, the word itself is far too full of delight for us not to grab it with glee.

We may already have genealogy and family tree, but how much sparkier and filled with fire-eaters, quacks, inventors and thespians does a whakapapa promise to be than either of those.

The dull and glue-like word genealogy promises only to be cluttered with antimacassar-knitting maiden aunts and someone who was once the mayor of East Grinstead; and a family tree is, equally obviously, going to be laden with nuts and fruits.

Being lucky enough to have been adopted, my ancestors are unknown; but given the choice of a whakapapa, a genealogy and a family tree I'll go for the whakapapa every single time.

Wouldn't you?

Word To Use Today: whakapapa. This word is Māori. It means base or foundation. You can pronounce it either hwakkapappa or fakkapappa.

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