I think reading Jonathan Lethem is making me more word-conscious than ever. I’m collecting new ones, obsessively looking up etymologies of old ones, and, like the Tourettic narrator of Motherless Brooklyn, savoring the sonickiness of tasty treats.
Blustery. Speaking of sonicky. We had a blustery day on Saturday. The word brings to mind not only good ol’ Pooh bear, but the condition itself. That quick push of air with the first syllable quickly giving way to the sibilant center and rolling finish.
Soporific. Round and sleepy, that word. Impossible to say it quickly. Butler says he only this year discovered the soporific effects of turkey at Thanksgiving. But the word always makes me think about Miss Potters’ little bunnies, vulnerable after their lettuce to mean old Mr. McGregor.
Bomb. From children’s books to my children’s behavior … from Jeff J comes a new word for what Tom does to a room. The details in this story — a note “doodled” on toilet paper, the teacher who “blew it all out of proportion” — might obscure the moral lesson I hope my kids learn: Passing a bomb can be a punishable offense. Ode to the joy of flatulating in the library >
Appoggiatura. Just in time for Whitney’s weekend replays and Adele’s sweep of the Grammys, The Wall Street Journal explains the technical reasons some songs make us cry. And teaches me a new word I have no idea how to pronounce. A little lesson in music theory for the boys at The Church of the Morose One. And a great example of how multimedia can make for a better story.
Women of a certain age A friend hit 50 this weekend, which caused me to wonder just exactly what is “a certain age.” As always, Safire says it best.
Copralalic. Oh, what a beautiful word for pottymouth! Even better? Copralalia! It’s like singing shit instead of slinging it. This one is, in fact, courtesy of Lethem’s Lionell Essrog, who is only too aware of his affliction, long before something like “EAT ME MR. DICKYWEED!” makes it out of his mouth.
Turd. My children have discovered the word makes me giggle. And snort. Making it the newest weapon in their arsenal to disarm me when they’re in trouble. Note the sonic similarity to Tourettic.
It’s also the biggest search term for this bubble blog.