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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Dec 23, 2013 11:44 pm

• swaddle •

Pronunciation: swah-dêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: 1. To swathe, to bandage, to wrap in bandages. 2. To tightly bind a baby with blankets so that it cannot move its arms or legs. 3. To tightly restrain or restrict, to smother, suffocate.

Notes: Swaddling dates back to the Ancient Egyptians, who wrapped their infants in long strips of cloth, a process taking as long as two hours. Swaddled babies were then often hung on a wall peg. Swaddling is still practiced in the Balkans, presumably because the babe feels more like it did in the womb. Many Native Americans once swaddled their papooses.

In Play: Of course, at this time of the year, we associate today's word with Luke 2:12 "And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger." (A much better translation than the more modern, "wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough".) However, you do not have to be a Christian to appreciate our word today: "Wash the car! Mow the lawn! Paint the porch! You have to quit swaddling me with so much work and let me relax on the weekends."

Word History: Today's Good Word probably comes to us from one of those English dialects where [th] becomes [t] or [d] (Brooklyn, Ireland, or down South today). It seems to have started out as a diminutive form or form indicating a frequent action (frequentative) of Old English swathian "to swath." So, this word is very much like our recent Good Word, passel, another mispronunciation of a word that went off on its own and worked its way back into the language as a new word.
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Re: Swaddle

Postby MTC » Tue Dec 24, 2013 9:13 pm

That swaddled infants resemble swaddled mummies is a well-known if unsettling fact. Infants enter life swaddled; Pharoes once departed the same way. Why? TLC, I suppose.

My limited online research shows that if Christ were born today he might not have been swaddled because "Aside from increased safety risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), swaddled infants may experience hip dysplasia or dislocation." - See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/mumm ... 4Kgbt.dpuf

Doc mentions swaddle "seems to have started out as a diminutive form or form indicating a frequent action (frequentative) of Old English swathian 'to swath.'" This lead me to the definition of swath:
"swath (sw th, swôth) also swathe (sw , swô , sw ). n. 1. a. The width of a scythe stroke or a mowing-machine blade."
Odd, isn't it, that the Grim Reaper with his scythe lurks in the shadows behind the swaddled infant; that swaddling evokes both life and death?

Well, I hope you have something beside these morbid musings to cheer yourself with on Christmas. (It's Christmas today in China.) Have a cup egg nog on me. (Teetotallers may substitute carrot juice.) And all the best to my fellow Goodwordians in the coming year.

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Re: Swaddle

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Dec 25, 2013 2:04 pm

And to you as well.


-----please, draw me a sheep-----

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Re: Swaddle

Postby wurdpurrson » Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:24 am

Many Native Americans once swaddled their papooses.

It is still custom in a number of Native tribes to place infants in traditional wood cradle boards. There are some differences in design between tribes, but they basically serve the same function: after wrapping blankets around, to secure the child in bindings sometimes made of soft-tanned animal hides, such as deer or pronghorn antelope, for comfort and security. Some designs allow for carrying the infant on an adult's back by placing (usually the mother's) arms through straps attached like a modern backpack. I've seen some decorated beautifully with bead work and painted designs on the leather. But the custom is waning. Most new young mothers seem to prefer the convenience of wheeled strollers purchased at the local big box store. Cradle boards are destined to become museum pieces; indeed, many can be found only in Native American museum displays.

When I lived in Japan half a century ago, it was still common to see a kimono-clad mother carrying her child on her back wrapped in a large furoshiki-style colorful cloth. The children often rode this way until they were two years of age, when they were allowed to begin walking. Various cultures do seem to echo each other's traditions, it seems. I suspect that now young Japanese mothers have scrapped the habit, just as Native Americans have done.

On that note , I wish good fortune to all for a new year filled with health and happiness. May you celebrate your own customs with family and friends!

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