Wednesday, April 25, 2018

OBSCURE WORDS, takes one, 2, and so on....

Overfond that I am of obsolete, 
chiasmic subjunctive-sentence constructions, 
like Would it were true! I have been known to gambol
among the the dulcet chimeric inversions of speech,
and I have lost entire days perusing the OED 
for Anglo-Saxon onomatopoetic imagery,
and the desuetude of obscure Latinate words.
Call these vagaries of speech antediluvian if you must,
but these defenestrations of language 
are sometimes more pellucid
than the vainglorious riposte tongues
of our so-called modern argot.



Escutcheons, flanges, sconces, and finials
such odd words for a poem to make.
Take, for instance, Gül Baba's tomb
on the banks of the Danube, 
in the very heart of Budapest,
with its finial, a spire and crescent moon
against a breathless summer sky.
And the roses. Oh, the roses!
As you held the camera steady,
I nearly swooned in the midday sun.



Notty Bumbo handed me 
a word to poemize: nictitating.
as in nictitating membrane, 

the translucent inner eyelids of cats
(from Latin nictare, to blink). 
I knew the word since childhood,
when my cat lost his eye in a catfight, 
love gone all wrong in the night.
I learned how to clean the hideous wound,
and was plagued by nightmares from it,
but I always thought it was spelled
nicotating membrane, 
and I wondered what nicotine 
had to do with the inner eyelids of cats, 
other than both were smoky 
as burnt quartz.


OBSCURE WORDS, TAKE ONE, or what passes for word-wanking

Unable to pull a suitable obscure word out of my hat, I Googled Google for Googlisciously weird words. I found a list of 30 weird words, but I've already used some of them like crepuscular, and petrichor already in poems. The rest are boring palimpsests, not that I can pronounce palimpsest, repurposed skin burdened with multiple stories, each obscuring the other, it's a bit chcthonic, so much of this is underground, where is Cthulhu when you need him?

I too dislike that Eliza Doolittle schwa-sound that drove 'Enry 'Iggins to drink, oenopihile, that he was. Dipsomaniac, more like. Any cook worth her salt knows what umami is without knowing the word for that bitter yet savory mouthy feel. The four sacred sensations of the tongue, plus one.

That leaves tmesis, which I ab-so-fucking-lutely do not want to use, or say, ever. Is the t silent or not? I'm too much of a nebbish to use that word. How about skeuomorph, that plastic Adirondack chair, a form of mimesis, or lucubration? Pedantic writing created in the wee hours while burning the midnight oil. Writing that sheds little light for all its efforts. But who works by lamplight these days, er, nights? Gaslight, maybe.

We all know far too many ultra-crepidarians on social media opining away, over their heads, offering free advice. The Greek painter Apelles overheard a cobbler criticizing the way he had rendered a foot, so he chapped the cobbler's hide for presuming to judge beyond the sole. A bit like how all this piece is cobbled together.

The idea of zeugma intrigues me, I like the economy of two-for-ones. She stole his heart, and his wallet. Poetry banks on that one. That's right up there with synecdoche, that simultaneous understanding where one thing stands for another.  That's poetry's bread and butter, a form of metonymy, a subclass of metaphor. Hoover it up, boys. Which brings me to flahoolick, from flaithulach, Irish, that is throwing your money about. Not that I have any money to squander.

As to chiasmus, like being dyslexic, it's a story of my life, but Kennedy said it best, "Ask not what your country can do for you," or to Byron's "Pleasure is a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure." The sin is all mine, I'm sure.

This frivolous persiflage is right up there with the aeolist, or the dark, secret cultist, who meets up with the panglossian singing "Always look on the bright side of life." Brian, is that yew? Chalk it up to the rhetorical pretensions of paralipsis—did I fucking say that out loud? Again?

Hiraeth, a notion I am intimately familiar with —the nostalgia of the past, a home that one cannot return to, hiraeth informs my writing, while I yearn for another undiscovered country, wanting the couthy comfort of hygge. The warmth of a fire, a cat, a book mid-winter, with the storm lashing at all the windows and doors. Nesh means being unusually susceptible to the cold, it has no synonym, but the freezing sensation that my days are numbered, is not. This is no time for cold feet.

Zugzwang is a a no-win chess move. It all comes down to loss in the end. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Just don't indulge in schadenfreude, that malicious joy. Whatever happened to non-zero-sum?

And who can even pronounce Eisenbahnscheinbewegung, it makes my eyes spin. It's that false sensation of movement when you're sitting in a parked train, and see another train depart. And the train hasn't even left the station. Is leaving the station. Will never leave the station. Sort of like Pogo's statement: I have met the enemy and he is us.

TG Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft wasn't on the list. Hint: Danube steamboats and electricity are involved. That's the second-longest word in German, BTW. 

German dropped its longest word in 2013, rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz, a beef label, after an EU law change.

The longest word in English has 189,819 letters, and takes 3.5 hours to pronounce, which is a chemical name for the titin protein found in humans. Is that really necessary?

The second longest word in English, at a svelte 45 letters long, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, or silicosis from inhaling too much volcanic smoke, or vog, for short. The citizens of Pompeii never stood a chance. What's with this scientific oneupmanship on naming lengthy diseases? Nanner-nanner-nanner, my disease name is longer than yours.

Here on the Big Island today,
cough, cough, gone to Maui.

It bumped the previous lengthy contender, electrophotomicrographically for a loop. At least you can grasp the meaning of this word. Squirrel it away for Scrabble.

And all this time I thought that antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in English. I got it right in a third grade spelling bee.

I won't mention Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, (that's llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch), or Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave, an-18 syllable word longer than the trainstop itself. I've been to Llanfair-pwll, for short, but I've never successfully pronounced it. Talk about Eisenbahnscheinbewegung!

Steatopygous should never be used to describe a woman's bottom, no matter how callipygous it is, unless it's Queen singing Fat Bottom Girls. And who the hell describes a sliced papaya as yonic anyway? I'll take mine with lime.

But I digress, this piece has become tediously prolixian and persiflageous, I'm in danger of becoming dunandunateous. This is going nowhere fast. All this work, and I still did not get a suitably obscure word for a poem. There's a reason why most of these words are obscure, and perhaps they should stay that way. Begin again.

OK, so I struck out with 29 Obscure Words That Everybody Needs To Know, so I tried another list: 15 Weird English Words You Won’t Believe Exist! Kerfuffle, hullaballoo, cacophony, ragamuffin, whippersnapper, gobbledygook, gibberish, poppycock, discombobulate, flummox, curmudgeon, lackadaisical, woebegone, lollygag, frankenfood. Don't know how that last one snuck in. But I don't want to use any of them in a poem. Boring. Twelve obscure words with delightful meanings  Mamamouchi, frowst, shivviness, scurryfunge.

Here;s a delightful Irish word list: Ireland in our favourite words and phrases

I later found these more fertile poetry lists on Quora:
What are the most delightful obscure words in English that I should know?

From Jonathan Shaltz:
Aleatory - dependent on luck
Argot - language, especially a secret or technical language
Catachresis - misuse of a word (cough cough “literally” cough cough)
Chimera - a hybrid animal, either mythical or via genetic engineering
Desuetude - disuse or obsolescence
Hecatomb - a sacrifice of 100 cattle
Kith - friends; people you know (as opposed to kin, relatives)
Lorn - ruined; compare “forlorn”
Miscibility - the quality of being able to mix; oil has little miscibility in water
Nostrum - snake oil; a medicine made and sold by the same person
Rook - as a verb, "to swindle;" 47% of American voters were rooked in November
Saturnine - gloomy or leaden, as in temperament
Sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia - brain freeze
Stevedore - a dock worker; a person who loads or unload ships
Umbra - a shadow; an apparition; shadow cast by a celestial body, as in an eclipse
Vainglorious - exceptionally arrogant
Windjammer - a large iron-hulled merchant sailing ship from the 19th century
From Lauren Woodhead
Solace, comfort or consolation in a time of great distress or sadness.
Clandestine - to do something knowing it is illicit.
Pyrrhic - Success found through loss.
Ailurophile - a cat lover
Propinquity - the state of being close to somebody or something
fecundity - the ability to produce an abundance of offspring or new growth
Imbroglio - a complicated situation
Sonorous - an imposingly deep or full sound.
Panacea - a solution to all problems
Avuncular - somebody who is kind and friendly to less experinced or younger persons
Aeipathy - an enduring and consuming passion
Catharsis - the purging or release of emotional tensions
Redemancy - The act of loving the one who loves you. A love returned in full
Brumous - foggy and wintery
Euphony. This is the beauty of a sound. (Beethoven and birdsong are both euphonic.)
And from Melinda Gwin
aegis (in non-mythological contexts)
bally (if you’re not British, you’re pronouncing it wrong)
defenestrate (not much call for this one, I admit)
luminesce (depressingly, this is a skin-care product now)
salubrious (not to be confused with salacious, especially if you’re buying a massage)
tumescence (not to be confused with the effects of a massage)
For today’s prompt, pick an intriguing and/or seldom-used word, make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. If you have a limited vocabulary, try out brabble, dandle, feracious, impavid, lippitude, or vulgus. Or pick up a dictionary or thesaurus

2018 April PAD Challenge: Day 25

No comments: