Today’s Daily Prompt topic is ‘Whisper’. It seems as if every word associated with whisper sounds like a whisper – a rustling, murmuring sound. Your voice automatically drops to near silence and your entire body tautens as it strains to hear the near quietude.
Susurrus means the same, and you can hear the sibilance in each syllable. Is this omnomatopoeia? Susurrus comes from the Latin susurrare – to hum, whisper. Can you hear the susurrant ripples of the flowing stream? It’s a beautiful word. Welcoming, soothing, enveloping. Sounds very enticing, doesn’t it? Like you could just sink in it. Well, you can sink into quicksand too.
In the Caribbean, we sometimes admonish those who ‘wiswis’ (whisper gossip and promote confusion and chaos). Without having delved into the etymology of that word, it is my view that it probably derives from the Muslims’ use of the term ‘waswaas’ – a term connoting the evil whisperings of the devil.
In Sura 114, the last Chapter of the Holy Qur’an, titled ‘An-Nas’, those whispers are recognised and the Sura itself legislates the protection to be recited against those whispers:
Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of Mankind,
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
The Allah (for judge) of Mankind,-
From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper),-
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-
Among Jinns and among men.