mineral froth

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beeja

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Hi,

The visitor was looking out at the balconies and Beaux Arts facades of the Palermo district. They formed a mineral froth of molded pilastered and lintels, the elegant architectural elements of a half-dozen civilizations jumbled together. Green copper domes and black slate roofs went tumbling through the sky, stiched with wrought iron and draped with masonry garlands, shields, nymphs and demigods.

The above paragraph explains the architecture but I dont' understand the bold sentence. Froth = foam or bubble, so mineral froth = mineral bubbles? but what to do with pilastered and lintels? need some clarification, pls help!

tks, :-D
 

stuartnz

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I'm not a teacher, but to me, "They formed a mineral froth of molded pilastered and lintels," conveys a word picture. It suggests that the balconies and facades, which are made of minerals, give the appearance of a froth or foam. The words "tumbled" and "jumbled" later in the passage strengthen the impression, since froth has a random, disordered appearance.
 

beeja

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But "a mineral froth of molded pilasters and lintels" so, there are bubbles on pilastered and lintels? I can imagine that the pillars have some bubbles on them but do you think it's what the author means? ;-(

oh, can "froth" here mean "residue"? like rusty residue or stain on the pillars???

well, "a half-dozen civilizations jumbled together", doesn't it mean the architecture is mixed by many civilizations? like spanish, european, blablabla..

thank you,
 

stuartnz

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I think the writer is trying to convey the impression given by the sight of the scene recorded. I doubt that the pillars and lintels had visible bubbles, but I think it likely that to the author's mind their abundance and haphazard, seemingly random placement conjured up an image like that of bubbles. The "mineral froth" was at least in part the result of that "jumble of half-dozen civilisations", which phrase you've understood exactly the same way I did.

If my wife walks into my incredibly messy and disorganised office, and says "this room is a bomb site!", she means that picture she sees reminds her of the chaos and mess seen at the site of an explosion. That is what I think this author was doing - trying to put in words the impression given by the abundance of the balconies and pilasters. Both balconies and pilasters protrude out from the walls of the buildings they're on, and balconies are often quite rounded in appearance, so that a large number of them close together could, perhaps when seen from a distance, convey the impression of bubbles. That's how I read the passage anyway. Perhaps a professional teacher can explain this more clearly.
 
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Anglika

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I entirely agree.

The buildings are constructed of stone, brick and concrete - all minerals. The frothiness is the effect of the extreme decorative details on the facades.

This image shows how ornamental the facades can be in Palermo: http://tinyurl.com/2gfjn4
 

vil

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Attention: I’m not a teacher.

Hi beeja,

I hope, after all, you will be able to understand the meaning of the sentence in bold. There are further explanatory words concerning the matter in question.

The pilaster is an architectural element in classical architecture and is used to give the appearance of a supporting column, with only an ornamental function.

lintel - a horizontal structural member (such as a beam) over an opening which carries the weight of the wall above it; usually of steel, stone, or wood.

pilaster: Definition and Much More from Answers.com

sorry, you might see the proper bild if you open the link "pilaster" in Answer.com

frothing agent-a material that facilitates formation of bubbles in a froth flotation process.

Froth Flotation is a selective process for separating minerals from gangue by using surfactants and wetting agents. The selective separation of the minerals makes processing complex (that is, mixed) ores economically feasible. The flotation process is used for the separation of a large range of sulfides, carbonates and oxides prior to further refinement.

gangue - worthless rock or other material in which valuable minerals are found. surfactant is a chemical that sounds like a detergent

mold - to shape in or on a mold, form by pouring (e.g., wax or hot metal) into a cast or mould

molded - shaped to fit by or as if by altering the contours of a pliable mass (as by work or effort)

molded - become mouldy; spoil due to humidity

Regards.

V.
 
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