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 Ingle-nooks

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Caro
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PostSubject: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 05:53

Twice in recent days the word inglenook/ingle-nook has come to my notice.  First in a Ngaio Marsh whodunnit published in 1939 and taking place probably a couple of years before (it mentions Hitler but not the war), describing a pub interior.  I didn't know the word and it seemed to be something to do with a sitting place near the fire.  Today at our writing group, attended by 4 other women ranging in age from 70 to 2 in their 90s (though they seemed offended when I described enjoying the company of old people, such as them) one of the stories was about Crockerton in England near Longleat (which we are having a series about on TV at the moment) from where her ancestors came. 

That preamble with all its brackets is to allow me to ask the history of this sitting place and whether it is still used now.  I understand what a nook is but what is 'ingle'.  I remember one of LM Montgomery's books was called Anne of Ingleside. So it must have some sort of 'place' meaning.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 06:55

"Be a little angel and bring a little angel..." That was our teacher "Smelly" Lynch's witticism (punned in Irish) when he requested that each of us in the class should take a lump of coal from home with us to school every day during the coldest bits of winter to keep the open fire in the classroom alive for another school-day (the alternative was doing bouts of physical jerks in the aisles between the desks at half hour intervals).

Smelly's pun involved a bit of a linguistic cheat. Strictly speaking "aingeal" (from "geal" and "an" - "bright ember") refers only to coal which is no longer giving off flame but is glowing and still hot enough to be used to ignite a newly set fire. The OED agrees that it means ember in Gaelic but then says only that this is a "possible" root for the English word "ingle", the problem apparently being that it pops up in the English format first as a "Scottish" term but that there is no evidence of its actual use in Scottish Gaelic. This strikes me as a pretty snobby and insular attitude for the OED to adopt since there are quite well documented and ancient examples of its use in Irish Gaelic, the language which gave rise to the Scottish version anyway. But I think it's fair to assume therefore that the word was primarily one used by the lower and illiterate classes and well below the OED radar before it eventually found its way into romantic "Scottish" English poetry in the 18th century, when the OED claims it seemingly miraculously manifested itself in its modern form as an alternative word for fireplace.

In fact "ingle" is by far an easier word to trace back through time than "nook", which even the OED throws its metaphorical hat at, muttering vague allusions to Norwegian, German and Sanskrit before then admitting total etymological defeat.
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 08:58

Many years ago I wrote a series of short articles for a caving magazine tracing the names of English caves/potholes. The underlying idea was that prominent open cave entrances - such as Gaping Gill, Yordas Cave, Douk Cave, Rowten Pot and Alum Pot, all in the Yorkshire Dales - while mostly inpenetrable, were almost certainly viewed as mysterious, probably mystic sites - entrances to the underworld etc. (and sometimes more prosaically just somewhere to dispose of rubbish) - and in the same way as other physical features (eg mountains and rivers) their names often reflect how they were viewed by the inhabitants of the area a thousand or so years ago.

One such name is Ingleborough - which describes a prominent hill (one of the Dales' well-known 'Three Peaks'), as well as a prominent resurgence cave on its lower flanks just outside the small town of Ingleton. In this local context 'Ingle', used as a prefix, seemed to me at the time to have derived from 'Angle' or 'Engle' meaning essentially 'English', combined with the Saxon word 'burgh', roughly a fort, or 'ton', a town (both the Brigantes and the Romans built large commanding forts on the summit of Ingleborough Hill). Ingleton, it seemed, was thus in the 9/10th century being singled out as an Anglo-Saxon settlement in what was otherwise a predominently Irish-Norse occupied district, with many villages and farms still having clear Norse names. But I now wonder if there was not an influence of the Irish 'fire' meaning. The adjacent village to Ingleton is Ireby ie Irish town (with the classic '-by' Norse ending), and the hillfort on the summit of Ingleborough has at various times been used as the site for a signal beacon. (As a place name ending '-ing' usually derives from the Saxon 'ingas', meaning place of, as in Worthing - the place of Worth/Wurth's people).

Coincidentally, but almost certainly unrelated, given your 'coal/ember' comment above, Ingleton does have coal deposits just south of the town, which were worked in the 19th century by several small but locally important coal mines.


Last edited by Meles meles on Wed 24 May 2017, 09:48; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : A touch of Pope Gregory's problem: angleii not angeli)
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 09:43

I have always understood the inglenook as being the interior corner of a large, recessed fireplace, often the most desirable seat in the pub.

The Dictionary of the Scots Language acknowledges ingle as deriving from Old Irish, [O.Sc. ingle, fire(-place), from c.1500, Gael. aingeal, fire, phs. orig. from O.Ir. aingeal, sunshine, light, shining, gleaming.]  

Outside Edinburgh we have Ingliston( beside the airport), - could this be English town?

Nook or Neuk according to the DSL can be either a corner or a promintory (East Neuk of Fife).
[O.Sc. nok, headland, 1375, Mid.Eng. noke, corner, angle, chiefly north. in usage.]
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 10:06

@ferval wrote:

Nook or Neuk according to the DSL can be either a corner or a promintory (East Neuk of Fife).
[O.Sc. nok, headland, 1375, Mid.Eng. noke, corner, angle, chiefly north. in usage.]

... my emphasis.

Far be it for me to dispute the wisdom of the OED but could not inglenook just be tautology to express a diminutive: a wee "corner-corner", or "nook-nook", in the same way as in French a "doggy" - as opposed to an ordinary "dog" - is familiarly known as a "chien-chien".

From wiki:
Angle comes drom the Latin word angulus, meaning "corner"; cognate words are  the Greek ἀγκύλος, meaning "crooked, curved," and the English "ankle ". Both are connected with the Proto-Indo-European root ank-, meaning "to bend" or "bow".
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 10:29

Perhaps but I don't think so, I have a vague recollection of ingle being used in the glowing, gleaming sense in Scots referring to twilight or gloaming but I can't find a quotation.
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 11:17

This is a verse from The Farmer's Ingle by Robert Fergusson (1773):

Weel kens the gudewife that the pleughs require
A heartsome meltith, and refreshing synd
O' nappy liquor, o'er a bleezing fire:
Sair wark and poortith douna weel be join'd.
Wi' butter'd bannocks now the girdle reeks,
I' the far nook the bowie briskly reams;
The readied kail stand by the chimley cheeks,
And had the riggin het wi' welcome steams,
Whilk than the daintiest kitchen nicer seems.
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 11:49

Burns: The Cotters Saturday Night

"At length his lonely cot appears in view,
       Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
   Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher* through
       To meet their dad, wi' flichterin noise and glee.
       His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonnily,
   His clean hearth-stane, his thriftie wifie's smile,
       The lisping infant prattling on his knee,
   Does a' his weary carking care beguile,
   An' makes him quite forget his labour and his toil."
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Wed 24 May 2017, 13:04

I'm inclined to stick with the Gaelic root for the fireplace, especially since it's a word that's been in continuous use for some few thousand years and hasn't changed its meaning one iota.

However the "Ingle" in place names (and variations thereof), though a separate issue, is itself a fascinating one. As denoting the "Angles" it features naturally enough in quite a few English place names, including England of course. But while Victorian antiquarians liked to wonder if the name originated from a Roman description of Jutland as "Angulus terrarum" (an angled land) a more telling and way lengthier trail is to be found if one keeps pushing eastwards across the continent, through Engelrute, Engelburg, Engelheim (Charlemagne's homeland) and Ingolstadt, all in modern Germany, Angleria in Northern Italy, Engelhartzell on the Austrian Danube, Engelweis and Engelstelen in Switzerland, Engelhausen (as was) in the Sudetenland, and even Engelholm in Sweden. The trail peters out as one enters Slavic and Russian territories with their more recently imposed nomenclatures, but then erupts again just beyond the Black Sea in Ingelsol and Engelsgrad as it wends its merry and very ancient way back into the mists of time (and Asia).
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Mon 29 May 2017, 04:29

I had no idea this was going to lead to such an interesting etymological discussion!  Thanks to you all.

Since writing that I seem to have discovered inglenooks everywhere.  In The Oldie this month Johnny Grimond was discussing the pros and cons of a 27th letter in the Roman alphabet and said about thorn (the 'th' sound). He said, "It was represented at first by a letter that looked like a 'b' superimposed on a 'p'.  That evolved to become a 'y', which, when followed by an 'e', was used for 'the', most often in conjuction in the popular imagination with 'olde'.  It is widely believed that, in 1992, the inglenook-fanciers' gazette, Ye Olde, became The Oldie.

And I am sure I found it somewhere else, too.  Have remembered there is an Inglewood in NZ too.  In Taranaki, in the North Island, near where one of my sons lived.  I suppose the burning meaning of ingle would make sense here, though I suspect it originated in someone's use of their home town or home farm back in Scotland or Ireland, a common practice here.
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Sun 11 Jun 2017, 07:33

I was shopping in Exeter yesterday and treated myself to Peter Ackroyd's new book: Queer City - Gay London From the Romans to the Present Day. Lo and behold, on page 2 I've just read this: "The 'ingle', or depraved boy, was well known by the end of the sixteenth century. Is there a phrase - every nook should have an ingle? Ingal Road still survives in East London."
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PostSubject: Re: Ingle-nooks   Sun 11 Jun 2017, 10:43

That's interesting Temp, I wasn't aware of that meaning of ingle, but yes, it certainly does indeed seem to have been a common term in late Elizabethan England. Will Shakespeare's friend, John Florio, in his English-Italian dictionary, 'Worlde of Words' (1598) defined the Italian, catamito, as "a ganimed [ganymede], an ingle, a boie hired to sinne against nature". And Ben Jonson in his play 'Epicene' (1609) has one character voice envy for another's luxury, including his option of him having "his mistress abroad and his ingle at home." Closer to modern times, T E Lawrence in 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' wrote, "Abd el Kader called them whoresons, ingle's accidents, sons of a bitch, profiteering cuckolds and pimps, jetting his insults broadcast to the roomfull."

At times it seems an ingle could also mean any lover, paramour or favourite (ie not just male) and the 'Encyclopedia of Homosexuality' (Ed. WR Dynes, 1990) adds that by combining the different meanings of ingle (ie a fire, hence the inglenook next to the fireplace ... with the meaning of a sexual partner) the term 'inglenook' was sometimes (mid-18th century) used as slang for "the female pudenda". I note also that in modern Spanish ingle still means simply the groin.

But I wonder though if the origin of the word 'ingle' ... meaning a (male) catamite, toy-boy, rent-boy, favourite, ... or equally a (female) whore, tart, floosie, prostitute, favourite ... might also ultimately come from the same Irish origin for a glowing glede, ember or flame ... and so be akin to the 20th century use of a "flame"  to mean a lover, or the expression "carrying a torch" for someone?
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