Week sixty-seven: CORDINER (probability 4547), by David Sutton

CORDINER (or CORDWAINER) is an archaic word for a shoemaker, a worker in CORDOVAN or CORDWAIN, this being a kind of goatskin leather, originally from Cordova (now Cordoba) in Spain.

This is just one of hundreds of words for old crafts or occupations that now have other names or have simply died out. Where now is the WHIFFLER, whose job it was to walk ahead of ceremonial processions clearing the way? Where is the CLAVIGER who had care of keys, the BELLETER who made bells, the FOSSOR who dug graves, the WHITTAW or WHITTAWER who worked in white leather, the CURRIER who tanned leather, the BUNTER who picked rags, the CANDLER who held eggs up to the light of a candle to check them for freshness, the SCAVAGER who collected scavage, the toll for keeping the streets clean, the BEARWARD who had care of performing bears? Even the BODGERS are gone now, who used to spend their summers in the beechwoods near my home, living in rough shelters while they turned beech spars to supply the local furniture industry. Somehow the names for the new occupations that have come in with today's media- and computer-dominated trades don't have the same appeal, though I confess to a certain affection for FLUFFER, a person employed on a pornographic film to ensure that male actors are kept aroused.


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