Posts tagged with "favorite word" - Faerye Net 2011-09-22T16:31:12+00:00 Felicity Shoulders These are a few of my favorite words, Part XVIII 2011-09-22T16:31:12+00:00 2011-09-22T16:32:46+00:00 <p>Deuxième Edition Française!</p> <p>In rewatching <em>Am&eacute;lie</em> recently, one of my two favorite films of all time, I was struck afresh by the word &#8216;accabler&#8217;. It&#8217;s one, like our old friend <a href="" target="links">bouleverser</a>, that I reach for in English conversation and whose lack stymies me utterly.</p> <p>It means &#8216;weighed down&#8217; or &#8216;borne down&#8217;, but it&#8217;s often used figuratively: in <em>Am&eacute;lie</em>, the heroine imagines Paris &#8220;accablé de chagrin&#8221; (crushed by woe) at her funeral. The same Greek root, taken as spoils of war by the Romans, gives rise to the French word &#8216;câble&#8217; (for once, exactly what you think it is, English speaker). I always imagine the burdens not just weighing someone down, but as impossible to escape &#8212; connected to them with chains, like the tail of <a href="" target="links">Marley&#8217;s ghost</a>. The closest I&#8217;ve come in English is &#8216;encumbered&#8217;. Not just crushed but hampered and bound. How many things are figuratively fixed to us in just such a way!</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part XVII 2011-03-01T11:43:09+00:00 2011-09-22T16:19:25+00:00 <p>In the course of <a href="" target="links">bearding the beast of biographical blurb</a> yesterday, I found myself using the verb &#8220;to noodle&#8221;. I used it to describe the way I wrote before I buckled down and got serious. I love this word. To me, noodling is joyous, experimental, and yet also careless. It lacks vigor, but its aimlessness gives it a chance for serendipity, for discovery. The word, with its associations of limp pasta and long strings of wiggly spaghetti, is perfect. But I wondered &#8212; was this a word I could expect everyone to know? As I&#8217;ve previously mentioned, the <a href="" target="links">family dialect of the Shoulders</a> is not always comprehensible to the bystander, and I could even trace the lineage of my fondness of &#8220;to noodle&#8221; to my dad, that inveterate word-bender. I consulted the <em><a href="" target="links"><span class="caps">OED</span></a></em>.</p> <p>The verb &#8220;noodle&#8221;, it transpires, has any number of meanings, including the English regional &#8220;To fool around, to waste time&#8221; and the Australian &#8220;To search (an opal dump or ‘mullock’) for opals&#8221;. In the Southern US, it can refer to a low-tech method of catching turtles and fish. Finally, however, the fifth entry yielded what I sought:</p> <blockquote><strong>noodle, <em>v.5</em></strong>: <strong>1.</strong> <em>trans.</em> and <em>intr.</em> Chiefly <em>Jazz</em>. To play or sing (a piece of music) in a tentative, playful, or improvisatory way; (also) to play an elaborate or decorative series of notes. Also <em>fig.</em><br /> <br /> <strong>2.</strong> <em>U.S. colloq.</em><br /> <strong>a.</strong> <em>intr.</em> To think, esp. to reflect or muse in an unproductive or undirected way; to act light-heartedly (also with <em>about, around</em>); (<em>also</em>) to experiment in an informal, tentative manner.<br /> <strong>b.</strong> <em>trans. <strong>to noodle out</strong></em>: to figure out, work out; to devise. <em><strong>to noodle up</strong></em>: to think up (<em>rare</em>).<br /> <strong>c.</strong> <em>trans.</em> To mull over; to think about, ponder. Also with <em>around</em>.</blockquote> <p>How fabulous that this meaning seems to arise from the musical usage! One of the reasons I love the <em><span class="caps">OED</span></em> is that it includes such a wealth of etymology and reference. This is the stuff a word carries around with it. It carries its own history and <span class="caps">DNA</span>, which may register on a reader&#8217;s brain along with the individual connections and memories that that reader carries in his own personal lexicon.</p> <p>How lovely it is to noodle, to be limp and squiggly as cooked spaghetti, adventurous and light-hearted as a jazz clarinetist, free to wander using only (if you&#8217;ll forgive me) the power of your <a href="" target="links">noodle</a>!</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part XVI 2011-02-18T11:42:36+00:00 2011-02-18T11:42:36+00:00 <p>I have, it seems, a childish weakness for words that sound like what they mean. Not in the crude onomatopoetic sense (or not <em>only</em> in that sense) but in a rhythmically or associatively suggestive way. I think it&#8217;s the rhythm of this one that makes it fall under this category:</p> <p><strong>judder</strong>: per the <span class="caps">OED</span>, &#8220;To shake violently, esp. of the mechanism in cars, cameras, etc.; also of the voice in singing, to oscillate between greater and less intensity.&#8221; &#8212; I think the oscillation is there in the violent shake too, hence the association with mechanisms.</p> <p>I find myself reaching for this word a lot, and I think it&#8217;s the discontinuity in the middle, the &#8220;dd&#8221; that cuts off the sound abruptly, like your teeth coming together as you are shaken rhythmically by a crude, juddering engine. I also like to use it for things which judder to a halt, in which case you can imagine the &#8220;jud&#8221; repeating and the &#8220;der&#8221; as the final sigh of repose. Judjudjudjudjudder. Phew.</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part XV 2010-02-15T23:56:57+00:00 2010-02-15T23:57:43+00:00 <p>Edition Française.</p> <p>I often regret, as I go through my life, the absence in English of the word &#8220;bouleversé&#8221;. Often, &#8220;bouleversée&#8221;, since I want to say it about myself, and a female subject dictates another &#8216;e&#8217;. In an otherwise English sentence, I feel my mouth forming itself for French. &#8220;It was a simply incredible book,&#8221; I say. &#8220;I was&#8230;&#8221; and I feel the lack of that word, the fact that saying it will, in all likelihood, confuse rather than communicate. Then I remember that there is an analogue, and I finish my sentence, belatedly, &#8220;bowled over.&#8221;</p> <p>&#8220;Bowled over&#8221; is what it means, knocked over by a ball, and I have gone through this cycle of reaching, regret and replacement a hundred times. Still I feel something lacking, despite the perfectly adequate phrase &#8220;bowled over.&#8221; And I think I know now what it is.</p> <p>It&#8217;s the sound. &#8220;Boule&#8221;, intense and self-contained, barreling through the vowel without deviation or dipthong, and then &#8220;versé&#8221;, &#8220;turning&#8221;, turning outward, the sound itself an opening, a release. &#8220;Verser&#8221; means to turn or flip, yes, but also to pour, and that word captures so perfectly the experience of being shaken, awakened, and changed. The projectile of the first syllable shattering your preconceptions like a glass pitcher, so you are poured out to find a new shape, shattered and made new. I love that word.</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part XIV 2008-12-28T13:15:10+00:00 2008-12-28T13:16:12+00:00 <p>Invented word edition! Because I come from a cluttery and packratty folk, I find a lot of use for clutter words, such as the slightly fear-inducing <a href="" target="links">&#8216;kipple&#8217;</a> invented by P.K. Dick. But here&#8217;s another neologism of decades&#8217; standing, which has much currency in my family:</p> <center><b>mathom</b></center> <blockquote>&#8230;anything that Hobbits had no immediate use for, but were unwilling to throw away, they called a <em>mathom</em>. Their dwellings were apt to become rather crowded with mathoms, and many of the presents that passed from hand to hand were of that sort.<br /><em>Prologue, The Ring Sets Out, The Lord of the Rings</em></blockquote> <p>J.R.R. Tolkien and P.K. Dick have my number entirely. Mathoms and kipple, alive, alive-o.</p> These are a few of my favorite words, Part I 2003-06-17T16:54:01+00:00 2008-12-28T13:17:37+00:00 <p>One of my favorite words is <a href="" target="links">palimpsest</a>. It is a great crunchy specific word, with the potential for really lovely metaphor.<br /> <br /> <p>I will now use it in a sentence:<br><br /> <b>We are all palimpsests, never truly free of what we once were.</b><p><br /> <br /> Now if you want (or if you want a gold star from teacher) you may use it in a sentence. It&#8217;s zany fun, English-major style!