Monday, January 25, 2010

Bella Carter


That’s what the man said as we looked out over the sparkling bay. He pointed at these odd ice formations which looked for all the world like paving stones, piled up on the shore line.

“These are called Bella Carters,” he said.

“Bella Carters?” I said, the word being new to me, a mere CFA, always captivated by the wonderful words I hear around me at the edge of the Atlantic in Newfoundland. “Can you spell it?”


“Well,” he said slowly, he always speaks to me slowly as if I’m a rather dimwitted child, “I never did have to write it down but that’s what my daddy called them, and his daddy before him.”

I fell upon my dictionary once I came home. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Previously written about here. No Bella Carter listed. But under bellycater it says go to ballicatter. Which I do. In my slow-witted way.

And oh my, it gets a whole half page of space, this word.

And here’s the meaning I’m looking for:

“a narrow band of ice, formed in winter in the saltwater along the foreshore or landwash. Large slabs, chunks and fragments of this ice after break-up.”


And I attempted, with the photo, to give you an up close and personal look at Bella Carter.

Isn’t she gorgeous?

22 comments:

  1. I never heard of that before either.

    Thanks for sharing this new "word" with me.

    And, yes she is gorgeous!

    xoxo

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  2. I'm so in love with the words I discover out here, Vicki.

    I must try throwing this one around!

    XO
    WWW

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  3. she is beautiful indeed. but the word and the story behind the word is even more beautiful!

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  4. Now you can teach those Newfoundlanders the correct way to pronounce that word. Is there any way to get that knowledge published locally?

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  5. It's a fine word for a beautiful natural phenomenon. There's no sign of it in the (Shorter) OED, but one of its few online listings suggests that it's an "alteration of barricade". I wonder.

    Certainly your ballicatters are easier on the eye than the swathes of seaweed that accumulate on the shore nearest to me here!

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  6. I've never seen a strip of ice like that before, quite amazing. It's fascinating how words gradually change over time until as you say it needs some serious detective work to discover the original.

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  7. I guess they put the Inuit to shame for number of words to describe ice... I'm guessing the origin of the word is Portuguese, long history of Portuguese cod fishing and settlement around the coast of NL...

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  8. It's interesting how something akin to Chinese whispers can change words and proper names so easily, over a few generations.
    I prefer the new version to the original in this case.

    I wonder if the first part of the word has the same root as "ballast".

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  9. GSW:
    Oh I wouldn't dream of it. I absolutely adore the evolution of language - sometimes it is far better than the original!
    XO
    WWW

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  10. Stan:
    I think you may have to work on finding a word for that very same accumulation of seaweed!
    XO
    WWW

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  11. Nick:
    I hadn't either and I think the tide has a lot to do with it, event though one can't see the movement of the water at all. It is very still.
    It is magic.
    XO
    WWW

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  12. Annie:
    As near as they can tell the word comes from 'barricade' and the variants are many "bellicadoes" being one of my favourites amongst all those listed...
    Hundreds of words for a formation of ice. Yes, we got your backs, Inuits!
    XO
    WWW

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  13. T:
    Could be. Though barricades is the one listed, but nothing definitive.
    I agree. Bella Carter is a lovely evolution.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Bella Cartier I'd say, judging by the rocks!

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  15. She's very beautiful, but obviously frigid!

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  16. RJA:
    Oh I knew you were going to say something like that....;^)
    Xo
    WWW

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  17. Beautiful photo and a wonderful name to boot. Glad you shared it with us.

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  18. Wow, I never knew ice formed on the edge of salt water. If you were to take some and thaw it our how pure would the water be?

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  19. I just googled about salt water freezing and was surprised that it freezes at just a lower temperature and there were all kinds of interesting experiments to do which if I was a kid I'd try but I think I'll just go back to finishing Cat's Cradle so I can return it and pick up another Nevada Barr book.

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  20. Yes, I was startled by this too, Karin, when I saw it first.
    I haven't read Nevada Barr, I must search out.
    XO
    WWW

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