Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Image from this website.


Over the last half century, Otto Frank has been accused of prudishness, of being too ready to forgive the Germans, of censoring and deracinating Anne, of anti-Semitism, of sentimentality and cowardice, of greed and personal ambition. (75)

Definition of DERACINATE
1: uproot
2: to remove or separate from a native environment or culture; especially : to remove the racial or ethnic characteristics or influences from

I just love it when the mot juste is so evident.  Is there really any other word that could be used?  Perhaps a phrase but no single word so perfectly expresses the accusation.  Deracination. Great word.

Image from this website.

Here and there, simple glass vitrines display a few of the objects that remain from that period:  Miep Gies’s identity card, Edith Frank’s prayer book.  (160)

Definition of VITRINE
a glass showcase or cabinet especially for displaying fine wares or specimens

To be honest, as soon as I read the word I knew immediately to what it referred but if I had put a scene in a museum, I would have said "glass case" or something along those lines  So now I know . . . vitrine.  Again,, I love the precision of language.  

Image from this website.
. . . it’s hard to imagine even the diary’s most devoted fans working this, or any, of the bubbly longueurs of the “a” version.  (131)

Definition of LONGUEUR
a dull and tedious portion (as of a book) —usually used in plural

I couldn't help thinking about the innumerable blogs by people whose prose is dull or tedious.  No doubt, mine is as guilty as any other.  Regardless, it's interesting for Francine Prose to point out how Anne's original diary, which Frank herself edited with thoughts of publishing it sometime after the war, was bubbly--which one would expect from Anne Frank certainly--and dull and tedious.  

Image from this website.
This hortatory speech had only a limited effect on his cast.  (208)

Definition of HORTATIVE
giving exhortation : advisory

The website from which I found this image used it to explain "hortatory."  I simply couldn't resist being redundant.  To be honest, I knew what the word meant but I love sharing words that delight me and this is one of those words that excited me.  

The Charity ward at Guy's Hospital, London in the 1880s: Mr Cameron warned the health gap between rich and poor is as wide as it was in Victorian times
Image from this website
From Emma by Jane Austen

The evil of the actual disparity in their ages . . . was much increased by his constitution and habits, for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years. . . .

Definition of VALETUDINARIAN
a person of a weak or sickly constitution; especially : one whose chief concern is his or her ill health

As soon as I saw this word I sat up and took notice. Okay, I was on the bike so I was already sitting up  but I immediately knew I had to look it up because I had no clue what it meant. I could guess but I didn't want to guess.  The word certainly describes the character of Mr Woodhouse, who is endlessly anxious about the condition of the weather, the climate, what people eat and how they dress.  A rather annoying character, frankly, albeit well-meaning.  

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