Words Words Words

We Are Losing Words All the Time

You can probably tell that I love words. Sometimes I tend to use words are are sesquipedalian (a foot and a half long), even though I risk losing some of my readers. This post is based on a story on the BBC News websie entitled “Twenty-Six Words We Don’t Want to lose.” I won’t throw all twenty-six at you, just the ones I particularly like. The following are from The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones:

  • Beard-second. The approximate length a man’s beard hair grows in one second. The Jones book pegs this at 5 nanometers. As one who would have no beard hair unless I took my testosterone externally (having no pituitary gland), I can’t believe this is a useful measure.
  • Charette. This refers to a period of intense work or creativity to meet a deadline. In French, thy would be working en charette, “in the cart.”
  • Finger-post. In 18th century slang, this referred to parsons, as they pointed out the path of salvation to others without necessarily undertaking the journey themselves.
  • Mountweasel. I particularly like this concept. According to the BBC website:

Fictitious entries added to a book to set a trap for would-be plagiarists are known as ‘nihilartikels’ (literally ‘nothing-articles’) or ‘mountweazels’, the name of an Ohio-born fountain designer and photographer named Lillian Virginia Mountweazel who was listed in the 1975 edition of the New Columbia Encyclopedia. Despite her renowned photographs of rural American mailboxes and her tragic death in an explosion while on an assignment for Combustibles magazine, Ms Mountweazel never actually existed.

  • Proditomania. Here is a good word for Trumpf staffers. It refers to the irrational belief that everyone around you is a traitor—though, in the Executive Branch that belief might not be so irrational.
  • Wantum. A blend of “want” and “quantum”—a term invented by Samuel Beckett to mean “a quantifiable deficiency or desire.”

The BBC writers also propose the following useful words:

  • Hunchweather. Weather cold enough to make one walk outdoors all hunched up.
  • Scurryfunge. The rushed attempt to clean up one’s dwelling place when company is expected imminently.
  • Frowst. Extra time spent in bed during a Sunday. This is is 19th century schoolboy slang.
  • Shivviness. The uncomfortable feeling of wearing new underwear (especially when that underwear is made of wool).

Finally, here are three odd words—which I have not found reason to use in my fifty-odd years as an adult:

  • Medioxumous. Of or relating to the middle rank of deities.
  • Septemfluous. Flowing in seven streams, used in certain theological treatises to refer to Christ’s blood.
  • Stercoricolous. Inhabiting dung, usually used of certain beetles. This last was once used by a writer friend to describe my housekeeping.

Now, may your writing henceforth be more picturesque!

 

 

 

A Master of Onomatopoeia

His Were the Best

There was a time when I could not in good conscience miss an issue of MAD Magazine. I loved all of it—and the darn thing of it, it was all good clean fun. There was considerable nudity in The National Lampoon, but not in MAD. There were a lot of things in MAD that I loved, and Don Martin was near the very top.  The following is from a dictionary of his sound effects compiled by Doug Guilford:

AHHHHHHHHHH – Frankenstein inhaling.
ARGLE GLARGLE GLORGLE GLUK – Princess using mouthwash.
AWK GAK ARGH GASP – Patient choking.
BBFRPRAFPGHPP – Doctor farting.
BLIB BLIB BLIB-BLIP – Helicopter hovering.
BROOM PUCKA PUCKA PUCKA BROOM PUCKA PUCKA – Cars revving for a drag race.
CHOMP CHOMPLE SLURP GLUK – Castaway eating and drinking.
ECCH YAACH BARF GAHORK – Andy Capp drinking water by mistake.
FASHKLORK – Huge fish emerging from pond.
FLOOT THWIP THOP KLOP – Man folding up beach umbrella.
FOOM – Explosion.
GA-SHPLUCT – Farmer stepping in cowflop.

… and so on. You can also check out the Futility Closet entry on the subject.

 

Sign of the Times

Be Sure To Read the Last Line (In Small Print)

This is pretty much self-explanatory, though I doubt it was placed in a location where anyone could get hurt. Perhaps Trumpf’s beautiful new wall separating us from Mexico could be replaced with a few thousand of these signs—in English and Spanish.

I Have a Preposition for You

Yeah, Some of These …

Here’s a poem for you by Morris Bishop entitled “To and Fro”:

I lately lost a preposition;
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair
And angrily I cried, “Perdition!
Up from out of under there.”

Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor,
And yet I wondered, “What should he come
Up from out of under for?”

Wow, six prepositions in a row! That has to be something of a record.

The Trumpf Meets Pope Paul

Naturally, It Was a Time for Gift-Giving

Fresh from his triumphs in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, our Trumpfissimo has gone on to conquer the Vatican with munificent gifts, including a handsome set of our Presidente’s published works. (Of course, Bibi Netanyahu and the King of Saudi Arabia are still wondering what to do with their Honeybaked Ham gift coupons.)

A humble man, Pope Paul was also given a set of luxurious Maruman golf clubs and colorful checkered pants he could use on his next visit to any Trumpf golf resort in the United States.

Advice the Pope Is Sure to Use

As was to be expected, the First Lady made an elegant impression in the Vatican, Israel, and the Arab World. It makes one wonder if perhaps she would have made a better president. Oh, well….

PICDuo

“Things Are Getting Dangerously Nutty!”

Berkeley Breathed Knows All About It!

There are a lot of ways at looking at America’s seemingly insoluble split down the middle between the Trumpites/Tea Partiers and the Liberals. Probably the healthiest approach is to take Opus’s point of view. It was that split that brought Berkeley Breathed, the creator of Bloom County, out of retirement. Today, his Facebook page is one of the sanest places on the Internet.

Does anyone knew where I can yet yellow and green briefs with smiley faces printed on them?

A Jobs Plan for Trumpf’s America

Specially Targeted to Trumpf Supporters

Our president wants jobs for Americans. It suddenly hit me that he could kill two birds with one stone: Send his most vociferous supporters deep into coal mines. (And none of that sissy strip mining stuff, either!) That coal dust does things to those who are most vociferous: It gives them black lung disease. That might also be a good solution for those members of his staff that the president is forced to remove for disloyalty or, worse yet, getting caught.

Perhaps we could direct our economy into those jobs which were more typical of centuries past. It’s a way of looking forward by looking back, and paying homage to our economic heritage. Say, what about harvesting cotton and sugar cane?