Thursday, January 10, 2008

I love my dictionary

I brought three different Oxfords with me, the Concise, the Shorter and the Pocket. (And I just went out the other day and bought a new Fowler M. Eng. U. It felt very strange not having a Fowler around. Like trampolining by yourself in the dark. No one around to spot when you are about to hit a bad patch and come crashing down, missing the trampoline and breaking your neck. You need Mr. Fowler when you write a lot, even if you don't ever open it.)

There is something about dictionaries. You don't have to go to all the fuss and bother of being clever if you have a lot of dictionaries.

Let's play a game.

Find a word in your dictionary that you think no one will know. Write two definitions, one you have made up and the other one out of the dictionary and see if anyone can guess which is which. (And no sneakily looking it up!)

I'll go first.

Stichomyth, stychomythia: n. Dialogue in alternate lines of verse as employed in Greek plays.

Stichomyth, stychomythia: the Greek slave (c. 485 BC) shards of whose pottery were the first to be used in a vote in the Agora to ostrasize an Athenian citizen.

guess. Come on! Guess! Guess!

I don't feel like working.


Anonymous said...

Well....I won't say because it wouldn't be a guess, but I will add that it is representative of heightened emotions: that fits both your made up definition and the real one. :O)
By the way, it was my birthday until 45 minutes ago, and I spent the day in Florence! Isn't it prefectly indulgent that I am able to make "day trips" to Florence??

Robert said...

You gave the answer away with a misspelling in one of the definitions.

Oh I know, no one likes a pedant...

Anonymous said...

R: It might have been a typo, in either one.

IC: I knew you would know so thanks for not giving it away.

And many happy returns of the day, even if it was yesterday. If you do not send me a postcard from Florence, I shall be very disappointed.

df said...

I got it too. Do I get a prize?

Anonymous said...

I did indeed remember to send out a dozen postcards or so, (you are among the future recipients,) but, unfortunately, did not write more than the exceedingly redundant "WUZ HEER". At least it has a pretty picture, and that might tempt you to come and visit more than anything I could ever write.
'Italy' is lovely, especially when we can get as many anglos in it as possible, to neutralize the natives (and growing number of Rumenians). Like I said, 'Italy' is lovely, but Florence especially so, and it might have something to do with the abnormally large presence of Englishmen and Americans who live there. When I sat down for lunch (tortellini al ragu and stuffed rabbit) I was able to converse with the couple to my left and the woman to my right in English, and I later went with the former to the Brancacci chapel; really interesting places become all the more so when there are really interesting people with whom to share it. You are quite right Hilary, we should leave the sausage making, the raggu, the bunny stuffing, the production of impossibly beautiful art and architecture to the 'Italians'--they have amply proven that they can be trusted with those simpler tasks-- but the Grand Tour (which was really about colonizing the Italian peninsula with Englishmen without letting the local population catch on) must restart at once after a long two hundred year hiatus. It was the French, after all, who brought it to a screeching halt. Ah, the French. Always a problem, but thankfully, la Divina Virtu (yes, I have been reading Dante and he is simply untranslatable) has arranged for their country to overrun by those 'people' and will soon pay for all the pox and madness they have inflicted on Western Civilization for the last three centuries. O dear. Looks like I rambled on. So sorry.

Eliza Whittington said...

I'm gonna go ahead and guess that's its the first definition. I'm not exactly sure why my guess should be that, but I'm a theater major and it seems like good karma to employ anything having to do with the subject. That said, I have numerous dictionaries myself, and I like to display them to make myself seems smart to anyone who may enter my room. I'm tricky like that.

Anonymous said...

I have always believed that making yourself look (of feel) clever is what books are really for.

Hide the paperback ones though. Under the bed is fine, since it is those that are most likely to be read in bed anyway.