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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>
Subject: (whorl) Seawrack's Real Name
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 12:51:10 

For a long time now I have been trying to figure out Seawrack's real name.

That Seawrack isn't her real name is revealed to us very early on in BLUE,
when Horn first confides, "the truth is that her name, which was no word of
the Common Tongue, baffled me, and that Seawrack was near to it in sound and
seemed to suit her very well."

Later, Horn tells Babbie that he must not harm their new shipmate:


 "...I tired to pronounce the name the goddess had used, and the young woman
who bore it laughed nervously.

"I can't say that, "I told her. "Is it all right if I call you Seawrack?"


Armed with these clues, I subsequently drew up the following parameters:

1. Her name is not in the Common Tongue (i.e., English), so we're talking
another language here--thus recalling the various personages we've met in
the Long and Short Sun series with names of Arabic, Gaelic, Italian, Dutch
or Indian extraction (among others).

2. It must be incredibly difficult to pronounce. Given that Horn seems to
have little trouble saying Thelxiepeia and Sphigx, it's likely to be a
genuine tongue-twister.

3. Her name must sound something like Seawrack, but not too much so or Horn
would be able to pronounce it more readily.

4. Given the naming convention for women of the Whorl (since I believe
Seawrack is a special talent), the name should be floral, with a possible
nod to something in the broader seaweed family.

Now even before alga's rather serendipitous discovery about the
algae-seawrack connection, I was operating under the assumption that
Seawrack was almost certainly named after a member of the Cyanophyta. This
is because of its more common name: Blue Green Algae. Unfortunately, though
I looked through more taxonomy books and databases than I care to think
about, I could not find anything that resembled "Seawrack" in either
Latinate binomial or common forms (seaweed has a long and pervasive history
in the cookbooks and pharmacopeiae of the world--hence a plethora of folks
names for almost all varieties).

Disappointed, but undaunted, I moved on to the Rhodophyta, figuring that
perhaps since the Whorl hailed from a Red Sun system, the red algae would be
potent hunting ground.

No such luck.

Onward to the Phaeophycota, the unattractive brown algae. Then again its
Laminara genus is cited in the OED under entry 2 of sea-wrack as a major
form thereof. And thus I discovered Laminaria hyperborea, a seaweed with an
extensive list of folk names, among which I list the following: sea rods,
mayweed, sgothach, murach foghmhair, and so on and so forth--and then last,
but not least, screadhbhuidhe.

Funny word, screadhbhuidhe.

It's Irish and pronouncing it may well give your tongue a hernia.

Something like: Shkreavwiyeh (or ...vweeyeh)

At least its vowel sounds approximate those in sea-wrack, and it has an
initial 's'.

So could Seawrack's real name be Screadhbhuidhe?

To review: (1) it's not in the Common Tongue; (2) it's difficult to
pronounce; (3) it sounds (sorta) like Seawrack; (4) it's floral and has the
bonus OED association with Laminarian sea-wrack. (5) its Irishness may link
back to Mainframe, whose fliers' names derived from similar roots.

Don't know about the rest of you, but I'm satisfied.

Robert Borski

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