“No Wool, No Vikings” by Claire Eamer is an article (for Hakai magazine) about, well, wool and Vikings. It’s well worth reading (I had no idea Viking ships had woolen sails!), but this is not WoolHat, and I’m posting about it because of the following paragraph:
But first, it’s time to collect the wool. These double-coated sheep shed their wool naturally in late spring and summer, so they don’t need to be shorn. Instead, the wool is plucked, or “rooed”—a bit like pulling loosened hair from a shedding dog. Rooing is labor intensive. In Viking times and for centuries after, the whole village would join in the roundup and rooing. The captive labor force of Fosen students means rooing is still possible on Utsetøya.
Of course I looked it up in OED, and fortunately the entry has been updated (in November 2010); it’s a word local to Orkney and Shetland meaning “To strip (a sheep) of wool by hand, instead of by shearing; to pluck (wool) in this manner,” and the etymology is quite interesting:
A borrowing from Norn.
< the unattested Norn cognate of Icelandic rúa, Norwegian regional rua, both in sense ‘to pluck (wool) from a sheep’, probably representing a later denominative formation (compare Icelandic rú old or dirty sheep’s wool (16th cent.), Norwegian (Nynorsk) ru, (regional) ruv sheep’s wool which is shorn off at the end of the winter) < the same Scandinavian base as (with i-mutation) Old Icelandic rýja to pluck (wool) from a sheep < the same Indo-European base as classical Latin ruere to churn or plough up, dig out, Old Church Slavonic ryti, Old Russian ryti (Russian ryt′) to dig, Old Russian r′′vati (Russian rvat′) to tear, tug, pluck (compare Old Church Slavonic runo fleece, probably < the same base), Lithuanian rauti to pull, tear, root out, and probably also (with different ablaut grade) rag n.2
I’m curious as to whether my Scandinavian readers are familiar with the various ru(a) words.
Addendum. Nothing to do with rooing, but I wanted to pass on the sad news that Jeff Del Col, who usually posted here as j. del col, commenting on everything from brassicas to R. Crumb to Elias Canetti, “died very unexpectedly today at the age of 68,” as his daughter Laura wrote me; she added that “He loved reading and talking about language and literature (he was an English professor himself)” and that LH gave him a great deal of enjoyment. [Obit.] My condolences to his family; he’ll definitely be missed around these parts.