The other day, I was conversing with my Colombian brother-in-law, and at one point I said, in reference to the desire to stay in society, “I’m not some remontado, with my eyes on the hills.” (I think we were talking about Into the Wild). He nodded, as if he understood, but confessed upon my asking that he didn’t know what it meant. Wikipedia has this to say on the subject:
remontado n. 1. Re-mounted, gone back to the hills or mountains (said of someone who has returned to the wild and left civilization.) 2. A Northern Philippine’s tribesman.
Now, what is interesting isn’t that Sam didn’t have the word for Northern Phillipine Tribesman in his lexicon, but that he understood from context the first definition, even though he hadn’t run across the word before. What is also interesting is that my own place of acquisition for the word was in a similar environment: “the remontados burning their homes and setting their eyes upon the mountains” (Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun, III, chapter 5, pg. 42)
I guess this is just a note on the acquisition of words. (I felt like something should be written on this blog, in other words.)