One of the most entertaining and refreshing aspects of working with a great editor is sometimes you spend a whole night discussing swingy thingies.
Which disproves the old legend that authors and editors are often at odds, and engage in fiery discussions.
We were somewhat at odds, but we had a good laugh.
Consider the following contraption
This thing appears in one of the stories that will be published in the forthcoming Aculeo & Amunet collection – The Hand of Isfet.
Now, in my story I called it a swape.
I know that in Egypt is currently known as shduf or shadoof, but you see – it’s an Arabic word, and they did not speak Arabic in Egypt in the Third Century.
A silly conceit, probably, but that’s it – I did not call it a shaduf, I called it a swape.
My Webster dictionary gave me the go-ahead*.
Compound to the dialect issue the fact that 9 readers out of 10 will probably be at a loss understanding what the frigging swape actually is – it’s not a common word, or a common contraption – and you get trouble.
Granted, I doubt my readers would be more familiar with a shaduf.
The smart thing, this being Egypt and the Third Century, would be to use the Greek word for the tool – kēlōneion.
Another word I suspect my readers are not familiar with.
We wasted our evening making plays on words and laughing like silly – which of course means we did not waste it at all.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that writing should be a painful and sombre activity – and neither does my editrix.
But the swape/shaduf/kēlōneion problem remains.
What should I call the cursed thing?
In the end, I’ll probably just call it swingy thingie with a bucket, and forget about it
* The huge problem of writing in a second language is, sometimes you consider commonplace, words that are actually pretty weird to native speakers.
Many years ago I was told by a young lady that my speech was peppered with very old-fashioned, uncommon and polite words.
It was hard explaining it came from reading a lot of Robert E. Howard.