This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday Rest: wenge. Word Not To Use Today.

I have to admit that this word could be worse. In fact it could be much worse: it could be pronounced to rhyme with henge.

Then it would be the acme of peevishness.

As it is, it's said wen-gay, which merely sounds snobbish.

What is it? It's actually something rather precious: an endangered African tree, Millettia laurentii, prized for its hard dark wood.

Here's a wenge tree in flower: 


Wenge is used to make musical instruments such a guitars and dulcimers. Here it is as part of an eigenharp:

File:Eigenharp Alpha Wenge 0610 1376.jpg
Photo by Ross Elliott

Wenge is also used for furniture and floors: that's why it's endangered, of course.

Anyway, if you must use it, why call it wenge? Why not call it by one of its other local names, like dikela, mibotu, bokonge or awong.

Ah, but of course! It's because then it would be obvious that the stuff had been ripped out of the middle of an African rainforest, wouldn't it.

Yes. You can see why they went with wenge, after all.

Sunday Rest: wenge. This is a native African word, but more than that I haven't been able to discover.

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