a shaman in Inuit society.
Angakok “a shaman in Inuit society” is a borrowing, by way of a Germanic source such as Danish or German, from Greenlandic Inuit angeqok. Because Inuit, a continuum of dialects spoken from Alaska through Greenland, uses multiple writing systems, the transliteration of angeqok has numerous alternative spellings, such as angakok, angakkoq, and angekkok. Inuit belongs to the Eskimo–Aleut language family, which includes languages spoken throughout the North American part of the Arctic Circle. While Inuit is the most extensively spoken, there are two other major branches of the Eskimo–Aleut family: Aleut dialects are spoken in the Aleutian archipelago off the coast of Alaska, and the Yupik languages are spoken in southwestern Alaska and the easternmost coast of Siberia. Angakok was first recorded in English in the 1760s.
The powerful sea goddess [Sedna] could also punish people for breaking taboos by causing them to become sick or injured. It was the duty of the Inuit angakok (shaman) to visit Sedna through soul travel to determine what wrong had been done. The angakok would have to placate Sedna by combing and braiding her dishevelled hair, or by overpowering her to force her to release animals for the hunt.
Often, illnesses or difficulties resulted from a taboo being broken. The angakok would hold a ceremony in which his familiar spirits would assist him to travel outside of his body to far-off places where he would learn the cause of the problem and how to rectify the situation. Once he returned to his body, the angakok would question the individual or other persons in the household. The general belief was that the angakok knew who was at fault, so those he questioned were obliged to answer him truthfully.
disposed to or affected with intense sadness or low spirits; gloomy.
Melancholic “disposed to or affected with intense sadness or low spirits” derives via Late Latin from Ancient Greek melancholía “condition of having black bile,” equivalent to melās “black” and cholḗ “bile, gall.” Black bile was one of the four humors (along with blood, phlegm, and yellow bile) that were once believed to affect temperament, and an excess of black bile was once believed to cause low, negative feelings. Melancholy came to refer to this excess of black bile and then to the feelings that this excess was believed to cause. Though we use depression today to indicate prolonged sadness, historical figures who struggled with depression, such as Abraham Lincoln, were described in their time as melancholic. Melancholic was first recorded in English around the turn of the 14th century.
Once an anthem for the possibilities of Americana, “Country Roads” half a century later might resonate with the Asian diaspora in a different way: as a melancholic reminder of leaving a place they called home, and everything lost to the promise of a better life.
Already an anxious and melancholic child, the train crash un-loosed something in me, vague broodings. In the weeks that followed I would lay in bed at night feeling like I was made of black air. At any time death could claim me. Worse, it could claim my mother. She did what she could to help comfort my fears.
any prolonged and bitter feud, rivalry, contention, or the like.
Vendetta “a prolonged and bitter feud” is a borrowing from Italian, derived from Latin vindicta “vengeance,” from vindex “defender,” which is also the source of avenger, revenge, vengeance, and vindicate. Vindex is likely a compound of vīs “energy, force” and the agentive suffix -dex, roughly meaning “shower, proclaimer.” Vīs is the source of vim (as in the phrase vim and vigor), violate, and violent—all of which literally pertain to a demonstration of strength or force—while the suffix -dex is related to the verbs dicāre “to proclaim, assign” (compare abdication, dedicate, and predicament) and dīcere “to say, tell” (compare dictionary, valedictorian, and verdict). Vendetta was first recorded in English in the early 1850s.
“Your Honor, defense counsel has throughout these proceedings attempted to insinuate that I had some sort of personal vendetta against the defendant, and that my office … somehow concocted this plot to unfairly convict him …. I have repeatedly requested that if counsel has any evidence to substantiate these outrageous statements to present it forthwith, and Your Honor has concurred. But defense counsel has given the jury nothing but a lot of hot air and continued efforts to obfuscate the facts.
As long as Kogito was busy reading and working on various writing projects, he didn’t think much about his widely published enemy’s vendetta against him. But late at night when he suddenly found himself wide awake, or when he was out walking around town on some errand or other, the peculiarly abusive words of his nemesis (who was a talented writer, no question about it) kept running through his head like toxic sludge.
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