Good Omens odd vocabulary word: undulants
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Author:  Attika [ Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Good Omens odd vocabulary word: undulants

I'm reading Good Omens and am somewhat stumped on a word I've encountered.

On page 259 of my Harpertorch Publishers paperback, an upset Shadwell is being led into Madame Tracy's flat and is peering about. The book passage reads: "His dreams had furnished it in silks, rich hangings, and what he thought of as scented ungulants."

Looking in Wikipedia and Wiktionary, the word ungulant doesn't exist by itself.

Ungulant does have two references, one to Ungulant Fever, and another to St. Ungulant.

To my mind, this leads to a few somewhat sensible possibilities:

#1. Terry and Neil meant to say "unguents," but incorrectly wrote "ungulants."

#2. Shadwell meant to say "unguents," but Terry and Neil are making fun of his confused mental status/vocabulary/accent and wrote out "ungulants."

#3. Shadwell meant to say "unguents,", but confused it with "ungulate" (a common scientific term for hoofed animal) and then further confused that with the confusing term "undulant."

#4. Could the word ungulant be being confused with undulant be referring to a couch/sofa with an undulating appearance?

There are other possibilities, but they require a lot of mental gymnastics to get to, including:

i.) Ungulant could possibly refer to Brucellosis, known also as "Undulant Fever," and can be acquired by drinking raw milk of an infected animal. But why Shadwell would think Madame Tracy would have a potentially lethal bacteria in her flat (in a glass of milk) is. . . unknown.

ii.) Since "undulant fevers" are "fevers that come and go," perhaps Shadwell thought that Madame Tracy had some potions in her flat that would "inflame" her clients? But undulant refers to a fever, not a potion, so . . . .

iii.) Terry and Neil could be making a very obscure reference to St. Ungulant, a character appearing in Terry's Discworld (or Roundworld?) book/series? But what an anchorite hermit would be doing in Madame Tracy's flat is again . . . unknown.

Would really like the authors' illumination here.

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