Wednesday 1 February 2023

So what is my favourite word

in another language?

When the Scottish Book Trust asked that question yesterday my immediate thought was, "Well "sith" I suppose." It is appropriate for all things Scottish because "sith" means "peace" in Gaelic. It has a soft, soothing sound about it.

Years ago I knitted a "peace blanket". I started it the day after the Twin Towers were brought down in New York because I needed to do something positive, something which involved other people. It was a comfort blanket of sorts. Into it I knitted the word for peace in twenty different languages. I added the Blissymbol for peace - the "opposite" symbol and the "war" (crossed swords) combined. It was blue and white. I knitted it on the train, on buses, in public places. I got other people to put stitches into it. The knitting once went up and down buses and trains as people added stitches to one of the less complicated rows. When I reached the end of my journey on the bus the driver took it. He looked at it and then added some more stitches. The youngest person to contribute was just three years of age. The oldest was one hundred and one.  I won't forget the look on the face of the developmentally delayed teenager who put in a stitch and then, because her carer could not knit, added a stitch for her as well. The Senior Cat added his stitches by making the rail we used to hang it from before raffling it off at the library to buy picture books. 

Eventually it came back to me. The woman who won it was going into a nursing home and asked me to take it back. It had been hanging on her wall for fifteen and a half years but they had told her she could not have it in the nursing home. It is packed away ready for her son when he eventually comes back from working in another part of the world.

Not content with that wall hanging I knitted a pullover for with the word for peaces in thirty-two different languages and the Blissymbol. The pullover is wearing out now. It is darned in several places. The wool was not the best but all I could find at the time. I have been told "knit another one Cat. People need to see it."  

I doubt I will but I remember the slow, soothing process of knitting in "sith" and "shalom", "paco" and "paix", "amani", "uxolo" and "sipala". It took concentration to follow the charts I had made. It was my first ever "steek" but I was learning more about "peace" than knitting.

Our family motto is in Latin, not Gaelic, "Aut pax, aut bellum" - "either peace or war".  Latin yes but it is the word "sith" which has stayed with me. It is soft and soothing. It is a word my ancestors might have used and so it stays with me, a favourite word.

I like words for "peace" in any language.  

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