26.03.02 – Tuesday
Now there’s a word I don’t like: spiritual. Heard in these contexts: ‘I’m not religious or anything, but I am very spiritual…’ -or- ‘yeah, you know, he’s all spiritual and shit.’ Spritual people supposedly tap into the grand essence that is, the great non-materialistic who-knows-what, all without the aid of organized religion. In general, they […]
apropos of nothing
mizzling, vbl. n. (var., misling; also ppl. a.) ‘The action of mizzle — the falling of very fine rain; fine rain or drizzle’ — thus the OED. A variety of precipitation called by vulgar persons (such as myself) spitting, on account of its exasperating (nay, provocative) inconsistency: it is neither really rain nor really mist. […]
I have the misfortune to own a first edition of Trees and other Poems by one Joyce Kilmer; it has filled many a dull hour with indignant mirth and there the matter might have ended, had it not been for the following stanza in ‘Old Poets’: For these young flippertigibbets A-rhyming their hours away They […]
on the origins of regret.
of doubtful origin
The hipster (who aspires to archeologist street-cred because she worked one summer at Petra) was talking about a scandal involving the Met Museum, a fracas she had heard about while working as a law clerk in New York. An eccentric gentleman had, it seems, written a book pointing out that many of the ancient artifacts in said museum ‘have no provenience’ and that the trustees, curators, & co. were, if not actually hushing the matter up, at least not proclaiming this ‘truth’ in large letters on billboards for the edification of the public…
I feel sick
It began with the pulp of a pumpkin which was kept in a cookpot atop the dishwasher on Halloween. Why it was kept, I know not. After a week, however, even I knew it stank. Indeed, to the very heavens. The future eminent medievalist concurred, declaring she felt nauseated. Once the windows were opened and […]
Lately I’ve been thinking (very slowly) about the word choir and, in particular, its appearance in two familiar poems. The first is Wilfred Owen’s ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth‘, and the relevant passage (ll.5–8) runs as follows: No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, — The […]
postation · postpositive · postprandial · post-haste · dumb as a post · postage · postulate · postilion · postalize · imposture · postliminy · by post · ‘ oh, omne animal triste!’ · postless · post-mortem · posthumous · posterity · post factum · ergo propter hoc
No. 35 Holywell St. I will be to you wine in the cellar and the more modestly or rather indolently I retire into the backward Bin, the more falerne will I be at the drinking… – John Keats, letter to Benjamin Bailey 21 May 1818
When reading, I don’t always look up the words I don’t know the meaning of – usually because context is enough, but often just because of laziness. This habitual sloth set me on a false scent with the following passage: Nobody, probably not even Kathy, need ever be aware of his spiritual child Katherine Volkov; […]
language strata at high table.
You reach a point in learning a language – usually sometime shortly after you can successfully ask and understand the way to the lavatory – when one word, usually a little word, will trip you up in supposed subtleties, tumble you into an ecstasy of confusion out of all proportion to its importance in actual […]
to have done
…in the course of the years the study of foreign languages had become almost a mania with Chwostik, indeed a sort of collector’s mania (as exemplified by his acquiring Armenian as a particularly exquisite ‘piece’)… – Heimito von Doderer(The Waterfalls of Slunj, p. 144) This is how we spent our morning: sitting on the floor […]
Right around the time I was reading that fibers from the cornel tree were used to make the Gordian knot, I realized that I was losing track of what I was interested in: how the cornels are used in Armenia.
layers upon layers
‘That’s the nice thing about foreigners,’ said the fat woman who had stopped in at the corner shop, ‘they’re always willing to acknowledge you.’ She was, as the poet said, spherical, like a globe, rather bilious in her fur coat, and completely blocked the narrow square of floor between the door and the queue for […]
no fuss no muss
One of the very nicest things about learning a variety of languages – besides, of course, being able to attempt communication with a variety of people – is chance of spotting arbitrary similarities in completely unrelated languages. For instance: in both informal Eastern Armenian and Khalkh Mongolian, you can use an m-reduplication (i.e. repeat the […]