Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday


Meme hosted by Bermuda Onion.
This week's words brought to you by
1984 by George Orwell


finescale dace
Image found here.
Somewhere near at hand, thought out of sight, there was a clear, slow-moving stream where dace were swimming in the pools under the willow trees.  (33)

dace (noun)
any of a number of species of small fish
Definition found here.



I hope it will be a long time before any of you get tired of my looking up fish and birds and flowers and things because I seem to be fascinated by these things.  Obviously, the context was clear enough to let me know that a "dace" would be a fish but what they looked like or what size they were could not be discerned contextually.  I almost picked a photograph of a woman with a few dace in the palm of her hand--they are small.  But this picture shows what they actually look like and it's just a drawing, so I don't have to think about the poor dead fish in that woman's hand.  


archimedes palimpsest
Image found here.
All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and re-inscribed exactly as often as was necessary.  (42)


palimpsest (noun)
a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. The word "palimpsest" comes through Latin palimpsēstus from Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος (palímpsestos, “scratched or scraped again”) originally compounded from πάλιν (palin, “again”) and ψάω (psao, “I scrape”) literally meaning “scraped clean and used again”
Definition found here.


I am fascinated by this idea of a manuscript being scraped clean and another text replacing it.  Not unlike the effect of pentimento or even the more recent altered books.  I know there are some people who consider books so sacred that to alter one is tantamount to sacrilegious.    Frankly, I've read some books that were so utterly dreadful that Bibi's altering them would have improved the quality of the text tremendously.  No doubt, you have as well.

Pewter Pannikin Childs Cup
Image found here.
Onto each was dumped swiftly the regulation lunch—a metal pannikin of pinkish-grey stew, a hung of bread, a cube of cheese, a mug of milkless Victory Coffee, and one saccharine tablet.  (52-53)

pananikin (noun)
a small metal cup or pan
Definition found here.


When I was a little girl, there were these tinware cups, blue with white speckles.  Practically everyone had a set, from which people would drink coffee or other typically hot drinks.  There was something oddly satisfying about the sound they made when empty and placed down on a table.   

Definition found here.
For all he knew there might never have been any such law as the jus primae noctis, or any such creature as a capitalist, or any such garment as a top hat.  (78)


The French expression Droit du seigneur roughly translates as "right of the lord", but native French prefer the terms droit de jambage ("right of the leg") or droit de cuissage ("right of the thigh"), in reference to the exercise of this supposed right. The term is often used synonymously with jus primae noctis /dʒʌs ˈpraɪmiː ˈnɒktɨs/,[2] which is Latin for "law of the first night".
Definition found here.


Not long ago, I learned that this idea of the ruler having the first night's right was not actually as ubiquitous as claimed.  It's amazing how propaganda can make the casually real seem relevant, taking the supposed for fact, and conflating circumstances to make the now misinformed irate.  Not to suggest these things never occurred but there are things done to women, particularly virgins, even today that people either deny or overlook in the name of tolerance or tradition. 


Image found here.
Already on the walk from the station the May sunshine had made him feel dirty and etiolated, a creature of indoors, with the sooty dust of London in the pores of his skin.  (125)

etoliate (verb)
to cause (a plant) to develop without chlorophyll by preventing exposure to sunlight.
Definition found here.


It seems every time I do these wondrous words posts, there is at least one word with which I fall in love.  This word is ideal, explaining so perfectly how the protagonist is pale from being inside, away from the sun and nature.  And the moment I read the definition, before I saw the image, I knew that the plant grown under such circumstances would appear blanched.  I find myself uncomfortable just looking at the image, it seems so unnatural.  and yet many plants must grow in and out of sunlight, whether deep in a forest or jungle or even in the depths of the ocean.  Curious I should find the appearance so discomfiting.  

Image found here.
. . .  Winston noticed some tufts of loosestrife growing in the cracks of the cliff beneath them.  (141)


loosestrife (noun) 
the common name of a number of different flowering plants. The species belong to two taxonomic genera, Lythrum, within the family Lythraceae, and Lysimachia, within the family Primulaceae.


I don't know what I love--a flower called loosestrife--or the appearance of it.  I mean, look at it with it's fern like leaves and clusters of flowers.  I can't help but wonder if it has an aroma or just has that sort of musty smell that some plans have, the vague hint of death almost the moment it blooms.

Finish Gateleg Table
Image found here.
In the corner, on the gate-leg table, the glass paperweight which he had bought on his last visit gleamed softly out of the half-darkness.  (143)

gate-leg table (noun)
a type of furniture first introduced in England in the 16th century. The table top has a fixed section and one or two hinged leaves, which, when not in use, folded down below the fixed section to hang vertically.
Definition found here.


There is something so artistic and simple in how this table is designed, elegant even.  I don't know that I've ever seen one, a gate-leg table, outside of a museum.  But I could imagine that sitting at one is awkward for, as you can see, the legs go to the edges at odd points (odd I suppose because I am not familiar with them on a personal level).  Ooooh . . . now I want one for a dollhouse.  But then, I want a dollhouse, one that I could decorate with as much lace  and roses as I like.  And Rob couldn't stop me.  He couldn't even force me to take down the Christmas tree just because the holidays are over and I could once again have my year-round-tree, which would make me ridiculously happy.