Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Draft footnote of the day: Shallott's shallop

When Richard Dalloway finds himself, unwillingly following Hugh Whitbread on a necklace-shopping trip, he thinks "Goodness knows he didn't want to go buying necklaces with Hugh. But there are tides in the body. Morning meets afternoon. Borne like a frail shallop on deep, deep floods...."

I got interested in that shallop and here's what I've come up with. It may be a reach, but I rather like it:

171.26 frail shallop By the 19th century, an unusual* word, denoting a small boat for shallow waters. Tennyson’s Lady of Shallott floats to Camelot “unhailed / The shallop flitteth silken-sail’d / Skimming down to Camelot” (21-23).
*I would love to use "rare" but that is a term of art for lexicographers, so I'll stay safe with unusual, which I believe to be accurate. The OED's 19th c attestations are to Tennyson and William Holman Hunt: both deliberately archaizing writers.

3 comments:

Ed Rodley said...

You're correct. Shallop is a much more common word in the 17th c. The Pilgrims used one, Capt. John Smith used one.

Sarang said...

It is interesting how the two OED definitions of shallop almost constitute an enantioseme! It is either a heavy thing with guns or a frail thing with oars...

Anne Fernald said...

Thanks Ed!! Reassuring.

Sarang, I will never be able to keep up with your trope vocabulary--you keep sending me to the dictionary. Thanks!!