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I increase my vocabulary

December 10, 2014

Yesterday I increased my vocabulary by two words: irredentism and gonfalon.

Irredentism, which I read in Will Kymlicka’s book Multicultural Citizenship, means a political movement to recapture a lost homeland. I probably should have known that – I’d seen the word before but never bothered to look it up.

Gonfalon, which I read in a short story by Robert Aickman (‘Bind Your Hair’) means a banner with a pointy end, and possibly streamers attached.

I wonder if I’ve forgotten two words to make room for them?

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  1. Mark Brafield permalink

    I sort of knew ‘gonfalon’ before you mentioned it because the stirring hymn ‘The royal banners forward go’ is sung to a tune called ‘Gonfalon Royal’. I had vaguely assumed that ‘gonfalon’ was a Welsh word because of the way it looked on the page, although I now discover that it is a medieval French word instead. Staying on the subject of obscure words relating to flags, I am delighted to add that the correct name for the leather cylinder attached to a diagonal strap across the chest and into which the flag carrier inserts the flagpole is a ‘pillock’.

  2. Thank you Mark – that is good to know.

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