(urth) Seawrack's name

António Marques entonio at gmail.com
Mon Sep 13 14:45:53 PDT 2010

Lee Berman wrote:
> I think the issue boils down to a difference in sense of
> interpretation. As a contrast, to my theory I'll mention Borski's
> theory, which included exhaustive botanical research to come to the
> conclusion that Seawrack's real name must be a version of the
> sea-wrack seaweed called Laminaria hyperborea with a bunch of folk
> names one of which happens to be the Irish word "screadhuidhe". So
> that is Seawrack's real name. Great.
> Perhaps this is exactly the name Gene Wolfe had in mind as SeaWrack's
> real name. But for me it is a quite ridiculous solution to an openly
> posed puzzle. "Screadhuidhe"? Is that really what Gene Wolfe wanted
> us to discover here?

The word is - appears to be, since the only reference to it is quite 
obscure - 'screadhbhuidhe'. Now, 'screadhbhuidhe' is more or less 
transparently two words, 'screadh bhuidhe', of which the first is 
probably a noun and the second and adjective. So far so good.

But the phonetics is completely off. There are a couple of different 
pronunciations possible for such a wword, but none comes nowhere near 
Seawrack. Screadhbhuidhe is something like shkrayvee, shkrayvooy, 
shkrahvee, shkravooy. I can't see how that would become Seawrack.

As to meaning... bhuidhe is the lenited form of scottish or pre-reform 
irish buidhe ('yellow' - and just barely possibly 'buoyant' if it's 
scottish), current irish buí. Either will do for a brown alga. But 
screadh is enigmatic (the sc- establishes it as irish rather than 
scottish), because the only root similar to it means 'scream'. There's 
the remote possibility that it is a variant of pre-reform créadh, 
current cré, which means 'earth', 'clay'.

So, even if the seaweed name is good gaelic, it has nothing to do with 
Seawrack, and 'yellow scream', 'floating scream', 'yellow clay' or 
'floating clay' aren't in the least enlightening.

Plus, vironese naming conventions are vironese, and rendered in english. 
Whoever gave Seawrack her name isn't vironese, nor is there any reason 
to suppose a vironese original, and Screadhbhuidhe isn't english.

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