Friday, August 31, 2012

The Dream of a Perfect Language Part IV

A lecture presented by Umberto Eco

at The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America

November 26, 1996

These explorations in the history of perfect languages are not a mere archeological endeavor. The problems faced by Wilkins are reappearing today (albeit in more sophisticated forms) in the framework of many researches in Artificial Intelligence, in the theories of a computational nature of Mind (supposedly articulating a Language of Thought or Mentalese), as well in the researches on mechanical translation.

We know what a predicament translation represents for natural languages. It has been told that every language is a system in itself and that radical translation is impossible, except one is able to find a perfect language of Mind. Such a parameter for every translation was judged as essential by Walter Benjamin: since it is impossible to reproduce all the linguistic meanings of the source-language into a target-language, one is forced to place one's faith in the ideal convergence of all languages. In each language " taken as a whole, there is a self-identical thing that is meant, a thing which, nevertheless, is accessible to none of these languages taken individually, but only to that totality of all of their intentions taken as reciprocal and complementary, a totality that we call Pure Language (reine Sprache)" (Benjamin 1923). This reine Sprache would not be a real language. If we think of the mystic and Cabalistic sources which were the inspiration for Benjamin's thinking, we begin to sense the impending ghost of sacred languages, of something more akin to the secret genius of the Primeval Language than to the ideal of the a priori languages.

In many of the most notable projects for mechanical translation, there exists a notion of a parameter language, which does share many of the characteristics of the a priori languages. There must, it is argued, exist a tertium comparationis which might allow us to shift from an expression in language A to an expression in language B by deciding that both are equivalent to an expression of a metalaguage C. If such a tertium really existed, it would be a perfect language.

The only alternative would be to discover a natural language which is so "perfect" (so flexible and powerful) to serve as tertium comparationis. In 1603, the Jesuit Ludovico Bertonio (Arte de la lengua Aymara) described the Aymara language (still partially spoken by Indians living between Bolivia and Peru) as endowed with an immense flexibility and capability of accommodating neologisms, particularly adapted to the expression of abstract concepts, so much so as to raise a suspicion that it was an artificial invention. Later this language was described as the language of Adam, founded upon necessary and immutable ideas", a philosophical language if ever there were, and obviously somebody discovered that it had Semitic roots.

Recent studies have established Aymara is not based on an Aristotelian two-valued logic (either True or False), but on a three-valued logic it is, therefore, capable of expressing modal subtleties which other languages can only capture through complex circumlocutions. Thus there have been proposals to use Aymara to resolve all problems of computer translation. Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated that the Aymara would greatly facilitate the translation of any other idiom into its own terms, but not the other way around. Thus, because of its perfection, Aymara can render every thought expressed in other mutually untranslatable languages, but the price to pay for it is that (once the perfect language has resolved these thoughts into its own terms), they cannot be translated back into our natural native idioms. Aymara is a Black Hole.

It is not this evening that we can discuss the possibility of a new scientific Aymara and how to overcome all the predicaments of an allegedly perfect language. Thus let me conclude with a temporary remark, quoting an Arab writer of the tenth o eleventh century, Ibn Hazm.

According to him, in the beginning there existed a single language given by God, thanks to which Adam was able to understand the quiddity of things. This tongue provided a name for every thing, and a thing for each name. But if such a prior language existed, why should have men undergone the unprofitable task of inventing other idioms? And if it did not exist, which was the source of our natural languages? The only explanation is that there was an original language which included all others. The confusion did not depend on the accidental invention of new languages, but on the fragmentation of a unique tongue that existed ab initio and in which all the other were already contained. It is for this reason that all men are still able to understand the revelation of the Koran, in whatever language it is expressed. God made the Koranic verses in Arabic in order that they might be understood by His chosen people, not because the Arabic language enjoyed any particular privilege. In whatever language men may discover the spirit, the breath, the perfume, the traces of the original polylinguism.

Let us accept that suggestion coming from afar. Our mother tongue was not a single language but rather a complex of all languages. Perhaps Adam never received such a gift in full; it was promised to him. Thus the legacy that he has left to all his sons and daughters is the task of winning for themselves the full and reconciled mastery of the Tower of Babel.

Which means, even in this country where it seems that English is the vehicular universal language, but different people at every corner of New York City speak a different tongue, to be tentatively polyglots is the only chance for mutual understanding.

Once a young American met Roman Jakobson who was starting his teaching in this country and said to him: "Professor, I rushed here to learn from you, but your classes are given in Russian, and I do not understand it." Jakobson (who was told to speak Russian in forty languages) answered: "Try!"

I thank you for having generously tried, this evening, to understand my pidgin English as it were your own perfect language.

Safety and security for tourists visiting Peru

By The Colca Specialist

Safety and Security - Terrorism

The internal terrorism of the 1980s and 1990s in Peru has largely ended, but not completely disappeared. Remnants of the Shining Path terrorist movement are still active in the some of the main coca growing areas in central Peru (Alto Huallaga, Aguaytia and Apurimac-Ene VRAE river basins). There is an underlying threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Safety and Security - Crime

Street crime, including muggings and thefts, is a significant problem in Lima, Cusco, Arequipa and other major cities. You should remain vigilant at all times and avoid walking alone in quiet areas or at night. Provincial and Inter-city buses are occasionally held up and the passengers robbed. Passport theft is common on inter-city buses. Keep your passport with you at all times during your bus journey and take particular care of valuable personal belongings when travelling on buses at night. You should take care when using web-cafes, restaurants and similar venues as thieves operate in places where people are easily distracted.

You should be particularly careful when arriving at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport. Unwary passengers are often approached by thieves masquerading as tour operators, people who pretend to know them or by bogus taxi drivers. Rogue taxis have frequently been used to perpetrate robberies. You should use the services of one of three official companies located at desks directly outside the International and Domestic Arrival halls. Visit the Lima Airport Partner website which gives details of airport registered taxi companies. Tourists have been targeted and robbed by bogus taxi drivers, especially at night, and when travelling to and from bus terminals, airports and the main tourist areas of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Wherever possible you should use a taxi registered at the bus terminal or from a reputable company, such as those that can be booked by radio. If possible book these in advance from a hotel reception desk or by telephone. If you cannot avoid taking a taxi from the street, be sure to take a conspicuous note of the registration number before getting into the vehicle. Be wary of taxi drivers offering cheaper than normal fares which is often a lure for a robbery (hotels can advise you on the standard fare to airports etc if you must get a street taxi). If you have luggage, you should not take a station wagon cab where your luggage can be seen, as it attracts robbers, who use mobile phones to advise accomplices to hold up the cab and rob you further along the road. Never leave your luggage in the cab with the driver behind the wheel. There have been incidents where passengers have got out with their luggage still either in the cab or boot and the driver has driven off. Wait for the driver to stop the engine and get out first. Be aware of the risk of "express kidnappings" - short-term, opportunistic abductions, aimed at extracting cash from the victim. Victims are held while criminals empty their bank accounts with the stolen cash cards: sometimes they are escorted to the ATMs by the robbers. Once the cards have been used the victim is usually quickly released. These have occurred in the main tourist areas in Peru, including Lima, Cusco and Arequipa; they also occur on the routes to and from airports and bus terminals, kidnappers working on the assumption that tourists will have all their cards with them at such times.

There have been a number of cases in the past few years of female tourists being raped and killed. Most have taken place in the Cusco and Arequipa areas, but cases have occurred elsewhere too, in places such as Mancora, Pucallpa and Lima. A recent case occurred in Cusco city in July 2011. Be alert to the availability and possible use of ‘date rape’ and other drugs. You should purchase your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times to make sure they cannot be spiked. If you are in a bar and don’t feel well, try to seek help from people you know. Women should take particular care at bus terminals, when hiring or getting into taxis, and avoid isolated areas particularly after dark.

Unlike in the UK and elsewhere, ATM machines in Peru do not always automatically release your credit or debit card at the time you receive your money. You sometimes have to request its return by pushing a button. Many ATMs in main towns have instructions in English.

Safety and Security - Local Travel

Local protests are common and often involve closure of roads and occasionally cause disruption to airports and rail services. Protests in Puno can sometimes result in the closure of the border crossing with Bolivia. You should maintain contact with your airline/ tour operator before travelling. In country, you should monitor local media reports for up-to-date information.

Street demonstrations and protests are commonplace in Peru. You should avoid any area in which large crowds are gathering to protest and take particular care if close to places where protests are taking place. You should monitor the local news and seek local advice for the latest information.

If you get into difficulties when travelling you should seek advice from the local Tourist Information and Assistance Service, whose operators can handle calls and enquiries in English. They can be contacted on +51 1 574 8000 (24 hours a day).

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Huaraz Region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains

Several hikers have died and others have had to be rescued after serious accidents in the Huaraz region of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains, where Peru's highest peaks are located. Most rescues are carried out on foot because helicopters cannot fly to the high-altitude areas where hikers are stranded. Contact iperu offices in Huaraz Tel no: (+51) (43) 428812 before starting to climb in the region.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Drug Trafficking

Drugs, organised crime and terrorism are inextricably linked in Peru, as they are in other major drug producing countries. Visitors should be aware of the heightened risk to their safety in regions where there is intensive coca cultivation. You could well be at especially high risk in the vicinity of cocaine processing labs and in areas where terrorists are based, particularly in the Alto Huallaga, Aguaytia, and Apurimac-Ene (VRAE) river basins. You should follow local advice about areas to avoid.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - States of Emergency

A State of Emergency declared for security reasons gives the armed forces responsibility for law and order with the police. Some civil rights are suspended. If you do decide to visit any area under a State of Emergency you should follow instructions given to you by military, police or other officials and heed local safety advice.

A State of Emergency was declared for security reasons on 4 July 2012 in the provinces of Cajamarca, Celendin and Hualgayoc, in the region of Cajamarca, for 30 days. This is due to a number of anti-mining protests that led to the death of some protesters. The State of Emergency was extended for 30 days on 3 August.

A State of Emergency was declared for security reasons in May 2003 and remains in force in the following areas: Huanta and La Mar provinces in the Department of Ayacucho; Kimbiri, Pichari and Vilcabamba districts in La Convencion province in the Department of Cusco (Cusco city and Machu Picchu are not affected); Tayacaja province in the Department of Huancavelica; Satipo province, Andamarca and Comas districts, (Concepcion province) and Santo Domingo de Acobamba and Pariahuanca districts (Huancayo province) in the Department of Junin.

A State of Emergency was declared for security reasons in December 2005 and remains in force in the following areas: the districts of Cholon in Maranon province, the province of Leoncio Prado, and the district of Monzon in the province of Huamalies, all in the department of Huanuco; the province of Tocache in the department of San Martin; and the province of Padre Abad in the department of Ucayali.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel

You can drive for up to sixth months in Peru on a UK driving licence and up to one year on an International Driving Permit. In either case, you should carry your passport with you to prove how long you have been in the country.

You should seek local advice before trying to pass blockades and take particular care if close to places where protests are taking place.

Travel by private vehicle outside major cities is not recommended after dark. Driving standards in Peru are poor, with stop signs and traffic lights often ignored. Crashes resulting in death and injury occur frequently. Drivers do not always show concern for pedestrians.

Bus crashes are commonplace, especially at night. Inter-city bus crashes have resulted in loss of life and serious injury. You should use only reputable transport companies, and where possible avoid overnight travel, especially in mountainous and remote regions. Cruz del Sur, Ormeno and Oltursa bus companies operate with two crews, but accidents still occur. You should always wear a seat belt when travelling by inter-city bus. For more general information see Driving Abroad. The Peruvian Ministry of Transportation publishes a list in Spanish of the intercity bus companies with the highest rate of traffic accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injuries. This can be found at the following link

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Inca Trail

Hikers walking the Inca Trail should go with a guided group. To protect natural resources along the Inca Trail, the Peruvian government charges fees for hiking the trail and there are restrictions on the numbers of hikers permitted on it. Hikers during the high season (June–August) are advised to make reservations for the Inca Trail well in advance via a travel agency. Visitors should always register when entering national parks and should be particularly careful in steep or slippery areas which are neither fenced nor marked. Several climbers have died or suffered serious injuries after falling while climbing Huayna Picchu, a peak near Machu Picchu.There were many tourist who died in Huayna Pichu but the peruvian press doesn´t publish info about the accidents.Be careful. Only very basic medical assistance is available at Machu Picchu.

Safety and Security - Local Travel – Colca Canyon

Hikers walking the Colca Trails should travel with a guided group which is recommended in case you have any kind of problem on the way. In the last months there were many accidents and deaths reported in Colca Canyon provoked by fake tour guides who have not a professional ID card. Be careful and avoid very cheap tour operators which work with illegal tour guides. Before taking buying the tours ask for the tour guide´s ID card and name if it possible.

Visitors should avoid buying tours on the streets. “jaladores” are locals who offer tours on the streets of Arequipa at very cheap prices and then the next day they disappear. If you have any kind of problem you should report it to the touristic police station in Arequipa. They will gladly help you to solve your problems. There are many hotels who offer you the service but it is not recommended to buy tours in the hotels because they are not tour operators and they will charge you an extra quantity of money for the same service.

Commissions are one of the main problems in Colca Canyon. Tour guides are asking for abusive commissions to local restaurants and to pack drivers of mules in Colca Canyon. If you are planning to rent a mule to take you out of the Colca Canyon you better talk directly to the owner so in that way you avoid for paying an extra price for the service.

Safety and Security - Local Travel – Mountainbiking in Arequipa

Mountainbiking in Arequipa is another good option for your holidays. The most well known mountainbiking circuit in Arequipa is Downhill Pichu-Pichu and there are many visitors who choose this option tour because of its safety and because of its variety of landscapes on the way which are not seen in Chachani volcano circuit. If you are looking for a good mountainbiking trip, it is better to buy directly from the tour operators and not in hotels or agencies that are not mountainbiking tour operators in order to avoid high commissions.

Before buying the tour check the credentials of the tour guide and the kind of equipment you will use during the tour . That will help you to realize about the kind of service you will receive. Downhill Chachani is another mountainbiking circuit eventhough that is very high it is monotonous and there is not a notorious variety of landscapes.Many tourists reported the presence of lots of garbage areas and vagabond dogs at the end of this circuit.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Sand Buggies

There have been cases of deaths and injury from recreational sand buggies, particularly in the sand dunes around Ica and Lake Huacachina. These buggies are unregulated and the drivers and agencies take no responsibility for the welfare of their passengers.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - River Rafting and Tours on Lake Titicaca

If you intend to participate in extreme sports you should check that the company is well established in the industry and your insurance covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. Those considering white-water rafting should consult local authorities about recent weather and the impact on white-water rafting conditions. Two Australian tourists were killed white water rafting in 2010.

British nationals are advised to travel in groups when walking along the banks of Lake Titicaca. A British National was held at gun point and robbed in early 2011. You should exercise caution at all times and contact the local tourist information centre for advice about known safe zones on the banks of the lake.

Local authorities advise against travelling alone at night in the Desaguadero area on the Peru / Bolivia border at the southern end of Lake Titicaca.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel - Nazca Lines

You should take account of the serious risk involved in flying over the Nazca Lines. On 2 October 2010 a light aeroplane crashed at the Lines killing all six people on board, four of them British nationals. There have been a number of fatal accidents and emergencies at Nazca over the years, including in 2011. In February 2010 a plane carrying Chilean and Peruvian tourists over the Nazca Lines crashed, killing all seven people on board. In April 2008 five French nationals were killed when the aeroplane they were flying in to view the Lines crashed. Past accident investigations have shown that necessary aircraft safety and maintenance standards were not being implemented. We have no reason to believe that proper safety and maintenance standards are now being reliably adhered to.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Spiritual Cleansing
‘Spiritual cleansing’ is a service regularly offered to tourists by shamans and others in Peru, especially in the Amazon area and in Arequipa,Puno and Cusco. This service is not regulated and there have been instances of serious illness and deaths following such ceremonies.

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Air Travel - General

There are restrictions on the carriage of liquids, sprays and gels (especially in hand luggage) for passengers travelling on l flights from Peruvian airports.

Safety and Security - Political Situation

Peru Country Profile

Street protests, which occasionally become violent, are commonplace in Peru, and can frequently cause disruption to road services. It is difficult to predict where and when protests will take place.

Try to avoid protests and demonstrations and take special care in any area in which large crowds are gathering. Local media reports are a good source of up to date information.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

River Rafting Classes of Rapids

Classes of Rapids

When selecting a rafting trip you will want to consider a few important factors such as the age of participants in your group and your previous whitewater rafting experience. You will also need to decide what level of rapids you would like to raft on. Whitewater rapids are categorized into 5 classes. Choosing the right class of rapids for you or your group can ensure that everyone will safely enjoy the trip.

Class I Rapids (Beginner)
Class I rapids consist of quick moving waters with little or no interference. The few obstacles that can be present are easily avoidable with little or no skill and experience. This class is ideal for families with young children.

Class II Rapids (Novice)
Class II rapids are slightly more advanced. Some paddling can be necessary to move around rocks and medium sized waves. These obstacles can be avoided by trained paddlers.

Class III Rapids (Intermediate)
Class III rapids contain moderate waves which can be more difficult to avoid. Maneuvering is more complex and can be required in fast current or around ledges. Previous rafting skills can be useful in avoiding these obstacles.

Class IV Rapids (Advanced)
Class IV rapids involve intense waves and powerful currents. Precise boat handling and paddling is required. Depending on the river, Class IV rapids can feature unavoidable holes and waves and may also include dangerous hazards. Previous rafting skills and experience sometimes required.

Class V Rapids (Expert)
Class V rapids are more dangerous and expose the passengers to more risk. They can contain long, violent waves and complex maneuvering. Rapids can continue for extended periods of time requiring paddlers to be of good physical fitness. Also extensive experience and proper equipment is essential for running a Class V rapid.

River Rafting Lingo

The following are some common terms you may hear on a rafting trip. This is just a handy reference for your convenience, and is not intended to be a complete listing by any means. Many terms vary slightly from guide to guide, river to river.

River Features


A section of river that can be boated.


River access where a trip begins.


River access where a trip ends.


Moving water.

River Right

The right side of the river when facing downstream.

River Left

The left side of the river when facing downstream.


The "steepness" of a river, measured in feet of elevation loss per mile of river.

River Rating

A measure of the difficulty of a rapid or a river.


The amount of water passing a point in the river, measured in Cubic Feet per Second (CFS).

High Water

River flow above an expected average. Makes the currents faster. Some rapids get easier, others become more difficult.

Low Water

Flows below an expected average. More rocks and obstacles may show, rapids become more technical.


Water flowing upstream behind a rock or other obstacle. Eddies often provide a safe place to get out of the current.

Eddy Line, Eddy Fence

Where the water flowing upstream passes the water flowing downstream.


Where there's whitewater! Water flowing through a shallower, constricted, or steeper section forms a rapid.

Hole, Hydraulic

Where water flowing over a rock or other obstacle flows down, then back onto itself in an eruption of whitewater.


A wave or hole peeling off an obstacle at an angle.

Standing Wave, Haystack

A wave in a river formed by obstacles on the river bottom, where the wave stands still relative to the bank.

Strainer, Sieve

An opening or openings where water can flow through, but a solid object such as a person or boat cannot. Usually formed by trees on the banks, or by rocks on top of one another with water flowing through them. One of the most dangerous river features.


A type of river in which rapids are separated by calmer pools of water, sometimes more forgiving than continuous gradient rivers.

Boat & Equipment Terminology


A paddle held in the hands, not attached to the boat, used to paddle. Can be single-bladed (for rafting and canoeing) or double-bladed (for kayaking, solo cats, inflatable kayaks)

Paddle Boat

A raft with a crew of paddlers and a guide.


A long blade, attached to the boat by an oarlock on thole pin, and used to row.

Oar Rig

A boat rigged with oars, so one person sitting in the center of the boat can row.

Stern Rig, Paddle Assist

An oar/paddle boat, in which the guide has oars and frame in the stern, and thecrew, sitting forward, has paddles. Ofen used on high water.


The front of the boat.


The rear of the boat.

Duckie, Inflatable Kayak, Funyak, Splashyak

A one or two person inflatable boat, usually paddled with double bladed paddles.


An inflatable boat with two pontoons.

Solo Cat

A one-person cataraft paddled with a double-bladed paddle.


Tubular webbing used for multiple purposes in rigging and preparing boats.


A clip, used to secure items into the boat, and to construct safety and rescue systems.

Wet Suit

A neoprene rubber suit which allows a small amount of water in, to help retain body heat.

Dry Suit

A suit designed to keep all water out, under which any amount of layered clothing can be worn.

Dry Bag,
Day Bag

A bag for keeping gear in on the river, to help keep things dry (but probably not 100%)

Life Jacket

A personal floatation device, coast guard approved, and worn like a vest.

Trip Dynamics & Technique


The person who steers the boat down the river, giving paddle commands to the crew (paddle captain), or rowing (oar captain).

Trip Leader

A Guide designated to oversee the smooth running of a trip.

Head Chef

A guide who plans the menu for the trip, purchases the food, and helps prepare the meals with the other guides.

Paddle Captain

The guide in a paddle boat.

Paddle Commands

Commands used by the guide to communicate to the crew. Some more commonly used commands are: Forward paddle, Back paddle, Left Turn or Left Back, Right Turn or Right Back, and Stop.


A member of the crew, usually in the bow, appointed by the guide to set the cadence, or timing for the whole crew. If everyone follows the strokemaster, the crew will be efficient and work together.

Agile Bow

A member of the paddle crew, who is assigned to get out on shore and hold the boat.


A group of boats together on a trip.

Lead Boat

The first boat in the flotilla, often captained by the trip leader.

Sweep Boat

A boat rigged with first aid, safety and rescue gear which usually runs last in the flotilla.


To stop and look at a rapid before running it.

Setting Safety

Catching an eddie, or hiking down the river, past a rapid to be there for the safety of a boat about to come through the rapid.


To carry the boats around a rapid, necessary around Class VI rapids and other obstacles.

Boat Angle

The angle of the boat relative to the current.


To cross a current or river, without moving downstream.


The boat turned upside down by a wave, a rock, or other mishap.


A boat held against a rock or other object by the force of the current.


A pulley system used to give a mechanical advantage when trying to free a boat from a "wrap"

High Side

The necessary act of jumping to the "high side" when coming up against an obstacle sideways. Always jump downstream, towards the rock or obstacle. When executed properly, it can help prevent a wrap or a flip.


A person who has fallen out of a boat.

Safety Talk

A talk which precedes every trip, in which paddlers learn about safety on the river.

Swimmer's Position

Often the safest way to "swim" in a river or rapid. Feet up in front of you, visible on the surface, facing downstream, arms out to the sides for stability and to scull to move across the current.


A trail mix used as a high energy snack food on the river.


A more detailed and specific glossary than the lingo for the casual paddler.

In the world of white water, the language of river guides is universal - from the rivers of Costa Rica to Africa to Latin America. Here is some “guide lingo” with which you can test - and expand - your knowledge:


Upriver from.


Pertaining to material carried or laid down by running water. Alluvium is the material deposited by streams. It includes gravel, sand, silt, and clay.

Back Pivot:

Turning the raft from a ferry angle to a stem-downstream position.Used in tight places to recover from an extreme ferry angle, this maneuver narrows the passing space of the boat and allows it to slide closely past obstructions.


A broad reversal such as that formed below a dam or ledge.


An accumulation of sand, gravel, or rock in the river channel or along the banks.

Basket Boat:

A 15-foot military-surplus raft-constructed of an upper and a lower buoyancy tube; the upper tube flares outward, giving the boat a bowl- or basket-like appearance.


The width of a raft at its widest point.


To wrap a line around a rock or tree so as to slow or stop Slippage. This technique allows one man to hold a line under great pull.


Downriver from.

Big Water:

Large Volume, fast current, big waves, often accompanied by huge reversals and extreme general turbulence. The terms big water and heavy water are closely similar, but big water carries stronger suggestions of immense volume and extreme violence.


Short for Carabiner which means "clip" in Italian. In rafting, biners are used in rope and pulley rescue systems to secure things to a raft and as items of adornment in river guide apparel.


These words are interchangeable.


A water current upwelling into a convex mound.

Boil Line:

The line below vertical-drop reversals above which the surface current moves back upriver into the falls and below which the surface current moves off downriver. Also called a "boil zone" because often this "line" is a broad zone of white, bubbling, upwelling water much of which is merely "boiling" in place while some is moving upriver and some downriver.


To slide over rocks and off drops in such a way that the boat lands level with the bottom down. Landing level keeps the boat up on the surface compared with landing nose down and diving deep. Kayakers, as they go over drops, can boof by leaning back to lift the bow. In rafts this is generally done by emptying the bow compartment and moving everyone toward the rear of the boat. Also refers to deliberately sliding up on to and then easing back off, big, smooth, sloped ramp-like rocks rising up out of the river.
Boulder Fan: A sloping, fan-shaped mass of boulders deposited by a tributary stream where it enters into the main canyon. These often constrict the river, causing rapids.

Boulder Garden:

A rapid densely strewn with boulders that necessitate intricate maneuvering.


Front of a boat. See Galloway Position.


With bow pointed forward.


To turn a boat broadside to the current. Usually spells certain upset in heavy water.


Technique of spinning a raft just before a collision with a rock so as to rotate the raft off and around the rock.


Cubic feet per second. Sometimes referred to as second feet. A unit of water flow used to indicate the volume of water flowing per second past any given point along a river.


A raftable route through a section of river.


A clear channel between obstructions, steeper and faster than the surrounding water.


The point where two or more rivers meet.


A high steep wave that curls or falls back onto its own upstream face. Considered by most to be a form of reversal. See Reversal.


Plunge paddle blades deep to grab the stronger downstream current well below the surface. Often initiated with the captain calling "Dig! Dig!! Hard Forward! Dig!!! Dig!!!". This technique can be effective in powering rafts through large holes especially when used by the two bow paddlers just as the boat hits the holes.

Double-Oar Turn:

Rowing technique used to turn (or to prevent the turning of) a raft. Consists of simultaneously pulling on one oar while pushing on the other.

Draw Stroke:

paddling technique of moving a boat sideways toward the paddle. Effective only with small, light rafts.


Metal, D-shaped ring attached to a raft and used to secure frames, lines, rope thwarts, etc.


An abrupt descent in a river. A pitch.

Easy-Rower Washer:

Large plastic, rubber, or metal washer placed between the oar and frame to reduce friction.


A place where the current either stops or turns to head upstream. Usually found below obstructions and on the inside of bends.

Eddy Cushion:

The layer of slack or billowing water that pads the upstream face of rocks and other obstructions. See Pillow.

Eddy Fence:

The sharp boundary at the edge of an eddy between two currents of different velocity or direction. Usually marked by swirling water and bubbles. Also called an eddy line and an eddy wall.


A drop over which the water falls free at least part of the way.

Feathering a Blade:

On the return, knifing an oar or paddle blade through the air.


A maneuver for moving a boat laterally across a current. Usually accomplished by rowing or paddling upstream at an angle. See also Reverse Ferry.

Flip line:

A line used to turn a flipped boat right side up. These may be tied across a boat's bottom or worn as part of a belt around a guide's waist.

Flood Plain:

That portion of a river valley, adjacent to the river channel, which is built of sediments deposited by the river and which is covered with water when the river overflows its banks at flood stages.

Foot cup:

Shaped somewhat like the front half of a shoe and attached to the floor of a raft, these fabric/rubber "cups" can help rafters stay in the boat. Also called toe cups or foot cones.

Four-Man Raft:

A boat 4 1/2 by 9 feet that will, on small rivers, accommodate one or two people. Only those 4-mans with inflated tube diameters of at least 16 inches are suitable for river use. These little boats handle best when loaded with only one person and fitted with frame and 6- or 7-foot oars.


The distance from the water line to the top of the buoyancy tube.

Galloway Position:

Basic position for oar boats; the oarsman faces the bow, which is pointed downstream.


Narrow, short passage between two obstacles.

Ghost Boat:

To push a boat out into the current and let it float empty through a rapid.


The slope of a river expressed in feet per mile.


Three pontoons lashed together side by side. Invented by and named for Georgie White, this floating island is suitable only for enormous rivers like the Frazer River in British Columbia or the Colorado of Cataract Canyon and the Grand Canyon.


The extreme upper end of a single-bladed paddle, shaped for holding with the palm over the top.


Fast, extremely turbulent water covered with white, aerated foam.

Hanging Tributary:

A tributary stream that enters a main canyon over a waterfall. The tributary canyon mouth is on the wall of the main canyon rather than at river level.


A large standing wave caused by deceleration of current.

Heightened Awareness:

The shift toward a more vivid, energized way of seeing and experiencing that tens to happen on river trips, especially trips infused with an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation. A sort of "predictable miracle" on Whitewater Voyage's trips.

Heavy Water:

Fast current, large waves, usually associated with holes, boulders, and general turbulence. See Big Water.

High Float Life Jacket:

A lifejacket with 22 or more pounds floatation. All Whitewater Voyage's life jackets are high floatation.

High Side!:

Jump to the downstream side of the raft, fast! This command is used just before collisions with rocks and other obstructions, If a crew, is quick, the raft's upstream side is lifted up in time to let the current slide under, rather than into, theraft. This action often prevents theraft from becoming wrapped. Sometimes called as "Jump To" or "Rock Side."


A reversal. This term is generally applied to reversals of less than river wide width. See Souse Hole.


Half-inch diameter tubular nylon webbing put to a thousand and one uses in rafting. As far as we know, no one knows for sure the origin of this name, although it may refer to the use of similar webbing to make hoops in mountain climbing. Most often used in the phrase "got any hoopi?"

House Boulder:

A house-sized boulder.

Hung Up:

Said of a raft that is caught on but not wrapped around a rock or other obstacle.


A reversal. This is a general term for reversals, eddy fences, and otherplaces where there is a hydraulic gap, a powerful current differential. Sometimes used in the plural to refer to the whole phenomenon of big water, whom massive waves,violent currents, and large holes are the obstacles, rather than rocks.


A serious physical condition caused by a lowering of the core body temperature. Symptoms include lack of coordination, thickness of speech, irrationality, blueness of skin, dilation of pupils, decrease in heart andrespiratory rate, extreme weakness,and uncontrolled shivering. Victims often become unconscious and sometimes die.

First Aid:

Quickly strip off wet clothes and surround victim skin-to-skin in a bare-body sandwich; administer hot drink, etc.


A pontoon-sized raft formed by joining several giant snout-nosedsponsons.


A reversal capable of trapping araft for long periods. Similar to butmore powerful than a stopper.


Spurring a paddle crew on with vigorously repeated commands mixed in with fun energizing phrases as in "Forward! Forward!! Gotta get there! Gotta get there!!" and "Backpaddle!! Backpaddle!! Need ya now!! Need ya NOW!!" This captaining style is so named because it was honed to a legendary art by Whitewater Voyages guide, Barry Kruse (pronounced just like "cruise").

Lean In:

At the sound of this call, crew members shift their weight in over the boat so that if they lose their balance, they will fall into, rather than out of, the boat.

Learning Opportunity:

A positive aspect of mishaps and mistakes (in rafting and in life in general) is that they can be valuable learning opportunities.


The exposed edge of a rock stratum that acts as a low natural dam or as a series of such dams.

Left Bank:

Left side of the river when facing downstream.


The use of ropes to work a boatdown through a rapid from shore.


A strainer dam of logs across a river.This dangerous phenomenon iscommon on small streams in wooded country.

Low Siding:

Moving people on to the low side of a boat usually to squeeze through a narrow channel.

Making Time Downriver:

A method of increasing downstream speed by using downstream angles, avoiding eddies and staying in the strongest jet of the current.


A loop-like bend in the course of a river.

"Nice Looking Rubbber":

One of the higher compliments that can be paid on a raft.

Oar Clip:

A piece of resilient metal in the shape of a pinched U that is used to hold an oar to the thole pin.

Oar Frame:

Same as rowing frame.

Oar Rubber:

Piece of thick rubber used to hold an oar to the thole pin.


The articles and methods used to fit out, or rig, a raft for river running. For example, the outfit of an oar raft includes a rowing frame,oars, the method of securing theframe to the raft, the method of securing the gear to the frame, etc. The outfit of a paddle raft includes paddles, rope thwarts, perhaps aframe or poop deck, and so on Theterm may also be used to refer toany commercial Company, especially one engaged in outfitting trips down rivers.


A line, usually about 20 feet long, attached to the bow of paddle rafts and the stern of oar rafts. Not to be confused with the much longerbow and stern lines.


In a threesome raft, when the bow boat flips back onto the middle boat.


In a generally Steep walled Canyon, a wide, level place adjacent to theriver with grass and trees, often found at the mouths of tributaries.


The layer of slack water that pads the upstream face of rooks andother obstructions. The broader the upstream face, the more ample the pillow. Also called an eddy cushion.


A section of a rapid steeper than the Surrounding portions; a drop.


Turning the raft from a ferry angle to a bow-downstream Position. This narrows the passing space of the boat, allowing it to slide closely past obstructions. Sometimes called a front pivot

Point Positive:

The custom when using river signals of always pointing in the direction you want someone to go, never in the direction you don't want them to go.


An inflatable boat 22 feet long or larger. These mammoth rafts usually have 3-foot tubes and 9 foot beams and range in length from 22 to 37 feet.


A deep and Quiet stretch of river.


Rowing technique of moving a boat forward by pushing on the oars.

"The Position":

In an oar boat, assuming "the position" means the guide braces the oar handle high and forward at arm's length to plunge the blades down as deep as possible. Like digging in a paddleboat, this action can grab the downstream current below the surface to pull a boat through big holes and reversals.

Pry Stroke:

paddling technique of moving a boat sideways away from the paddle. Effective only with small, light rafts.

R1, R2, etc.

A raft with one paddler, two paddlers etc.


A fast, turbulent stretch of river, often with obstructions, but usually without an actual waterfall. Contrary to common misconception, only the plural takes an "s."


As in the phrase, "my boat is ready", this is a technical term with a precise meaning: the boat is untied and all lines are coiled and up off the floor; the training talk is complete; all gear is clipped or tied on; each crew member is in his or her place with life jacket fastened and paddle in hand; in short, the boat is truly ready to pull out at a moment's notice.


A place where the current swings upward and revolves back on itself, forming a treacherous meeting of currents that can drown swimmers and slow, swamp, trap, or flip rafts.Some reversals take the form of flat,foamy, surface backflows immediately below large obstructions justunder the surface, while others consist of steep waves that curl heavilyback onto their own upstream faces.Reversals are also called hydraulics stoppers, keepers, white eddies,roller waves, backrollers, curlers,sidecurlers, souse holes, and, mostfrequently, holes. Although some of these terms are used loosely to refer to any sort of reversal, others carry more precise shades of meaningand refer to certain types of reversals. Each of these terms is discussed separately in this glossary.

Reverse Ferry:

A rowing technique whereby the oarsman rows diagonally downstream for a short distance so as to power stern first into an eddy. With a heavy raft, this technique sometimes provides the only means ofentering a small eddy.


A shallow rapid with very small waves, often over a sand or gravelbottom. Does not rate a grade on either the Western or the International scale of difficulty.

Right Bank:

Right side of the river when facing downstream. See also River Right.

River Left:

Left side of the river when facing downstream.

River Listening:

Listening to someone without judgment or criticism and attending so closely that you can repeat back in your own words what is said. Attentive, caring listening may be the greatest, most healing gift any human being can give another.

River Right:

Right side of the river when facing downstream.

Rock Garden:

A rapid thickly strewn with exposedor partially covered rocks that demand intricate maneuvering.

Roller Wave:

A reversal. This term is used variously to mean curler and backroller.

Rowing Frame:

A rigid frame that provides a seatfor the oarsman and allows the raftto be controlled by large oars. It often also serves as a rack for gear. Also called an oar frame.


Small choppy waves over shallows.


To examine a rapid from shore.


A portion of river located between two points; a stretch.

Set Up Safety:

Position toss bag throwers and/or rescue boats at key points along and/or below a rapid to provide rescue support for boats coming through.

Shorty Pontoon:

A 22- to 25-foot pontoon. See Pontoon.


The process of moving vehicles from the put-in to the take-out or trip members in the reverse direction. This can be accomplished by driving at least two vehicles to the take-out and one back to the put-in, by hiring meal drivers, or by usinga charter flight service if you can afford it. Or you can hitchhike with a sign reading: RIVER RAFTING-NEED RIDE UPRIVER.


A reversal parallel to the main current, formed by a side current passing over a rock as it enters the main channel.

Skills Board:

Teaching aids used in the Whitewater Voyage's Guide Schools which provide hands on practice in various swiftwater rescue skills.


Submerged rock or boulder just below the surface, usually marked by little or no surface disturbance.


An extremely violent rapid; hair.


To take an easy route around a difficult spot. Often takes the form of maneuvering down one side of a big rapid in order to avoid the turbulence in the center.

Souse Hole:

A hole found below an underwater obstruction, such as a boulder. Thisterm usually refers to holes of narrow or moderate width that have water pouring not only from the upstream and downstream directions hot also from the sides.


Enormous inflatable tubes mounted alongside pontoons for added stability.


A one-man, 7-foot rowboat of rigid plastic with spray shields jutting up from bow and stem.

Squirt Rafting:

Accelerating into (safe) eddies and just before crossing the eddy line, jump int the boat's low, leading side or end to make it dive and take in water.

Stage Marker:

A gauge placed along a river shoreline that is calibrated in feet orfractions thereof starting from an arbitrary zero point. With appropriate conversion information, these readings may be converted into CFS or, more important, raftabilityratings.


A stretch of river where the water pours over a series of drops that resemble a staircase.

Standing Wave:

A wave caused by the deceleration of current that occurs when fast-moving water slams into slower-moving water. Unlike ocean waves,which sweep forward while the water in them remains relatively still, merely rising and falling in place, these waves stand in a fixed position while the water washes through them. The height of thesewaves is measured vertically fromthe trough to the crest.


Rear of a boat.


A reversal powerful enough to stop a raft momentarily. Also called a stopper wave. See Keeper.


Brush, fallen trees, bridge pilings, or anything else that allows the current to sweep through but pins boots and boaters. These are lethal.


A portion of river located between two points; a section.

The Strokes:

The two bow paddlers who, following the captain's calls, match strokes with one another and set a paddling pace that is followed by the rest of the crew. This term can also refer to the various paddle strokes used in rafting such as "forward", "backpaddle", "draw" and "pry".

Strong, Economical Guiding Style:

A widely-used core method of guiding characterized by strong angles (between 45 and 90 degrees to the current), quick changes of angle and using as few strokes as possible to achieve the desired results.

Sweep Oar:

A large oar extending over the bow or stern, commonly with the blade angled at the throat.

Thole Pin:

An upright steel pin on a rowing frame that serves as a fulcrum, or pivot point, for the oar. uncapped pins are used with oar rubbers, while capped pins, which are far safer, are used with oar clips.

Threesome Raft:

Three rafts lashed together side by side. See C-rig.


On an oar or paddle, the point where the shaft meets the blade.
Thwarts: Tubes which run across, or "athwart", the middle of a raft.


The smooth "v" of fast water found at the head of rapids.

Toss Bag:

Also called a throw bag and rescue bag. A toss bag is a football-sized bag stuffed with floating line. The thrower, or rescuer, holds one end of the line and usually with an underhand throw, tosses the bag generally to swimmers in a rapid. As the bag sails through the air, the line plays out, so that the bag lands light and empty - hopefully with the line within arms reach of the swimmer on the downstream side.


The angle to the water at which a boat rides. The crew and gear should be positioned so that the boat is level from side to side, and slightly heavier in the bow than in the stem.


Same as Threesome Raft.

Tube Stand:

When an inflatable raft stands up vertically on one tube and then drops back own right side up.

Wet Suit:

A close-fitting garment of neoprene foam that provides thermal insulation in cold water.

White Eddy:

A reversal below a ledge or other underwater obstruction characterized by a foamy backflow at the surface.

Wild Thing:

A technique for freeing a boat hung up on a rock by having the entire crew jump around like wild monkeys.


Said of a raft pinned flat around a rock or other obstruction by the current.


A rope and pulley system which quadruples a group's strength. Used for unwrapping boats off mid-river rocks etc. See "Piggyback Rig".