Friday, September 07, 2007

Ultracrepidarian

What a lovely word. Via the comment section of this guardian blog. Also this wonderful website, which has more details about the etymology. Now if you want to abuse this blogger you know which word to use!

I love writers who force me to run to my dictionary in the middle of reading. That's one of the reasons why I like Nabokov. In Speak, Memory the readers learn how parallel railway lines can commit collective suicide by "anastomosis" or in Pale Fire we see on a winter morning "svelte stilletos of frozen stillicide" (this one courtesy John Shade.) He even manages to use "defenestrate" (this one in Pnin.)

I was also very happy with my most recent reading, Count Julian by Juan Goytisolo, for this reason too. He is a master too, in the same Nabokovian league or at least his English translator Helen Lane surely was. I haven't read a book with such density of strange and uncommon words in a long while. (Somehow I have always remembered bovine, porcine, lupine but never "hircine". Plus there were at least half a dozen new words around another animal - the bull. Like Taurine, Taruomachy, Toredor etc. I couldn't guess initially even though I knew the root - taurus.)

(Sigh! The blogger spellcheck doesn't recognize any of these words!)

7 comments:

KUBLA KHAN said...

Alok Hi
I was pleased to find your blog listed at complete review amongst good literary blogs. i am not surprised. well done!

never heard of this word before.....interesting post....re Goytisolo's use of words, language has been turned upside down.

Preyanka said...

That's why I love Rushdie! I think he uses vocabulary for humor as well.

Alok said...

kubla: thanks. i have seen that listing. may be it says more about the general state than anything about this blog? :) though it does feel good that some people find my personal enthusiasms interesting.

preyanka: yes he is in the same category too though a little different in the sense that his vocabulary draws on local slang and cultural lingo.

Szerelem said...

can we have the link to the complete review list?
and well donje from me too!!

jyothsnay said...

MeMr Zembla I still remember Nabokov's "Fenuvian spirit"...I could not find the meaning of this word, so that moment when I fell in love with this word, I constructed its meaning by reading through the circmstances, the situation, the fervour around when this beautiful word struck me
such incidents are plenty with Nabokov who is not English-bred by DNA..that makes it more compelling!

in the modern writings or expression, I feel Woody Allen is riotous to lend newer meanings to the existing barrels oak fames or design sub-variables from them...

Alok said...

szerelem: ah, its nothing. As i said it says more about the state of literary blogosphere :)

the blog listing is here

jyothsna: fenuvian? what's that? I don't know what it means, care to enlighten?

Preyanka said...

True--but I'm talking about when he uses words like "sussurations" or all the esoteric medical terminology. Anyway, I found it interesting when I read Midnight's Children and wrote a little bit about it in my post on Englicious: http://englicious.preyanka.com/2007/08/midnights-children/