Category Archives: Words

Two New Words

I have a Word of the Day sent to my email every day, and don’t normally open the message as they aren’t often new words to me. Yesterday I got the word canicular. I wasn’t familiar with it so I clicked to read. It means “of or relating to the period between early July and early September when hot weather occurs in the northern hemisphere”.

So that would be “summer”.

I’m not sure I can think of a use for canicular. Apart from the sentence “I’m not sure I can think of a use for canicular”.

That might be the last time I use it unless I need a rhyme for funicular and have already used particular. That is, realistically speaking, an unlikely scenario. For several reasons.

I do have another new word if you want one – shitsuren. It’s Japanese and it means “broken heart”, “unrequited love” or “disappointed love”. It’s probably as useless as canicular, but much more fun to use. And if I ever write my Limerick cycle on the US Presidents, I will have a rhyme for Martin van Buren.

More About Words

I’ve been looking at the list of words that should be banned from poems, as mentioned in a previous post. They have been nagging at me since I looked at the list in preparing the post. I’m now worried that I’m unacceptable as a writer because I’m using unacceptable words.

To get things straight, I’m going to carry on using the word “rectal” no matter what. The amount of times I’ve been in hospital recently I want to be very clear when discussing thermometers as the consequences of a mix up could disturb my dreams for a very long time.

The same goes for the following list, though for different reasons. Ammonite, blob, candyfloss, daffodil, destiny, fester, frond, golden, gossamer, heartbreak, Jesus, mango, milt, poised, prayer, shimmer, shriek, snot, soul, sunset, tesserae and ziggurat.

They are mostly unexceptional words and if you are writing about fossils, flowers or fish breeding you are probably going to struggle to do without them. We went to Cirencester once, where they have a great display of Roman mosaics. It would be tough to visit without being armed with the word tesserae. Same would apply if I ever visited a museum of Assyrian temples. There are just some words you can’t do without.

I daren’t use the word shards, because it’s been universally decried over the years, and anyway, if I need to discuss broken pots with an archaeologist I’m sure that potsherds, as they used to be called in my youth, will suffice.

I can’t say the same for some of the other words. Some are just dreadful words – loo and humdinger – and have no part in my vocabulary. When the world is so full of words for toilet (yes, I know it’s non-U) why bother to use one so loaded with class connotations? We have bog, jakes, ajax, thunderbox, water-closet, house of ease, WC, to name a few of te politer ones. (No thesaurus was used in the listing of loo substitutes, I just have a very unsophisticated vocabulary). As for humdinger, I really don’t have a use for it. If something is splendid I shall say so. I don’t need humdinger and I certainly don’t need awesome. Awesome isn’t actually on the list – but unless something inspires awe it’s not necessary. That, of course, is just mt biased opinion.

You then move on to archaic. over-used and complicated words – epiphany, harbinger, hark, lambent, myriad and sapient. I have used several of them in prose, but they are a bit overdone in poetry. However, if I ever need to write a poem about a hard of hearing, knowledgeable forerunner who gets licked by a lot, and I mean a lot, of intellectuals and experiences a life-changing moment, I may have to use them.

That leaves palimpsest, plethora and snedder.

I like palimpsest, though I have never used it. I don’t tend to write about re-used parchment. I have used plethora recently. As for snedder, there’s a limited number of times you can use it. Seamus Heaney, as far as I know, only used it once. That’s probably once more than most of us will use it. Unless you write poems about turnips.

 

 

 

 

Words, words, words

I need 250 words and I’m struggling so find them. Well, that’s not strictly accurate, I have access to a head full of words but they need putting down in the right order, and it needs doing quickly because I have other jobs to do.

Biblioperigrination is always a good word but it has limited use – partly because there are only so many stories you can tell about books wandering round a house, and partly because it’s one I made up, so few other people understand or use it. I could cite previous uses, but that would involve me…

… for evidence of previous use see this link on biblioperigrination. It suddenly occurred to me that I could use the Reader function to search for it. It was a lonely post, sitting there on its own, but at least it saved me searching through months of posts.

This leads on to tsundoku. It’s not such a lonely search as there are a number of people who have blogged on the subject before.

I’ve just consigned 43 words to oblivion. I didn’t like the way they fitted, and as they were all common words (as in plentiful, rather than in sitting round watching horse racing from Kempton Park whilst drinking supermarket lager straight from the can). Other race courses and cheap alcohols are available.

Having said that, alternative venues and drinks may not convey the same picture. Watching racing from Goodwood whilst drinking brown ale from the bottle conveys a more summery and 1950s picture – I almost expect the Larkins to pop up somewhere.

Before I go on, and I admit I can go on a bit, my knowledge of the racing venues of the UK is not based on years of building up interesting material for my life story, just on years of dealing in collectables. Race courses issue passes to their members and these passes are collected. You need to know the courses, their size and if they are still open.

My knowledge of cheap alcohol, on the other hand, is based on a more hands-on approach, and a wide-ranging testing programme that has left me with several gaps in my memories of the 1980s. My current attitude to drinking, which is one of the few things about my lifestyle to draw approval from my doctor, is actually the result of accidental aversion therapy.

A similar approach to curry, kebabs, chips and fried chicken has yet to show any result. Well, not entirely true. It has yet to show any positive result. Again, alternatives are available – burgers, baltis and bacon cobs being the more northern form and tripe and trotters taking us back to the 1950s again.

My extensive knowledge of junk food has just frightened me.

However, by the magic of blogging I have now produced over 450 words, and telling you this has just added another twenty to the total. I can now bring this post to a close, apologise for the lack of photographs (food is never around long enough for  a photograph) and get off to do the washing.

I’m tempted to bring it home wet, as Storm Brian is providing some pretty brisk drying weather.

 

 

 

Books, Books, Books…

I’m in the middle of sorting my books out. They aren’t necessarily the biggest problem in my life, but they are one that I can do something about. I don’t feel too bad about getting rid of books because they can go to friends, neighbours and charity shops.

Clothes can go to charity shops too, as can various other things, but I feel guilty about merely throwing things away. After years of keeping things “because they may come in useful”, I have a lot of useless junk, but keep hold of it because…well, you can guess.

Some of it is actually second and third hand, having been passed on to me by my father and grandfather. If you ever need a tester for thermionic valves or a magnifier for a 1950s TV screen I have one. (My grandfather was part of group that built their own TV sets in 1953 in time for the Coronation, in case you were wondering.) On the other hand, if you want stationery in pre-decimal sizes, my father has provided me with a large selection.

However, back to books.Do you know how many words there are to describe conditions related to books?

Try these.

Bibliophilia – love of books

Bibliomania – accumulating books, including multiple copies, books of no collectable or financial value and numbers of books far beyond the collector’s capacity to read them.

Bibliophagy – book eating

Bibliokleptomania – compulsive book theft

Bibliotaphy – book burying

My favourite is a word my sister recently emailed me, with the words “I think this applies to us.”

Tsundoku, a Japanese word meaning the state of buying books and storing them without reading them.

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So many books, so little time

I hold my hands up to bibliophilia, bibliomania and tsundoku.

I’m even considering Bibliophagy, on the grounds that books are high in fibre and low on digestible calories.

If you put them through the shredder a book has to be at lest as tasty as the spiralised butternut squash “noodles” we had last week.