- For Teachers
Does any genius know the meaning of the words:
Toin, Spurl and Plinuckment.
“This machine is designed to pick up sound vibrations that are too high-pitched for reception by the human ear and to convert them to a scale of audible tones.”It felt something else which we didn’t know about – something called toin or spurl or plinuckment, or anything you like.
It is written by Roald Dahl(1916-1990) in -- The Sound Machine
I have been given by the explanation as follow but the explanation seems invividly explain the exact meaning of the words. The word plinuckment still left unexplained.
“Spurl” (also spelt “spuirle”) is a lowland Scots verb meaning “to kick about” or “struggle”, e.g. “His heid stuck fast, an’ there he’d lie, tae spurl an’ greet an’ kick” (Alexander Anderson, 1845-1909, “The Deil’s In That Bit Bairn”).
“Toin” is Gaelic for “arse”. It got into English on account of the Gaelic insult “Chomh ghaelach le toin Ui hAnluain”, that is, “As Irish as O’Hanlon’s arse”, documented by the poet Edmund Spenser thus:
“Other great howses ther bee of the ould Englishe in Ireland, which thorough lycentious conversinge with the Irish, or marrying, or fostering with them, or lacke of meete nurture, or other such unhappy occasions, have degendred from ther auncyent dignityes, and are nowe growen as Irish as Ohanlans breach.” (“A View of the Present State of Ireland”, 1596). “Breach” or “breech” being the polite but colourless equivalent.
Spenser was referring to the town Tandragee in Co. Armagh, then under the control of the O’Hanlon clan. Tandragee in Gaelic is “Toin re gaoth” or “back-to-the-wind” on account of the windswept castle there. Also, “toin” is pronounced something like “tone”, which was an old pronunciation of the English word “town”, hence the silly bilingual pun “As Irish as O’Hanlon’s town / O’Hanlon’s backside”. As for “plinuckment”, the remaining unexplained I regret that I have no idea what it means. – U-En Ng
I think the clue comes within the sentence itself:
It felt something else which we didn’t know about – something called toin or spurl or plinuckment, or anything you like.
Dahl is saying: "make up your own word to describe it, since I cannot think of one".
I think the other answer you have given is a desperate attempt to find meaning where there is none.Why someone should feel like "arse" escapes me.
Clearly they are intended as neologisms, not foreign words extant iin Gaelic or elsewhere. I think they are based on sound words and onomatopoeia, however: toin - tone; spurl - (onom.); plinuckment - pick / pluck + ment.
I don't think he's half as good at it as Lewis Carroll.
Agreed. Maybe a disclaimer is in order:I think the other answer you have given is a desperate attempt to find meaning where there is none.
"Any resemblance to words living or dead is purely coincidental."