Thursday, January 12, 2012

Word-hoards and lard-hoards

1. In the wake of this exchange, Calista and I have been trading literary sightings of lard, pigs, and/or gross food broadly construed; we've recently started a new tumblr (currently titled "A Child's Larder of Verse" though really there isn't much verse there) dedicated to these. No by-lines as these would be purely embarrassing for me. Swift (Jonathan, not Tom) is the genius of the place.

2. A fascinating Language Log post about the writer Paul West who "emerged from [a] stroke with a near-total obliteration of language" and how he made the best of his way back to language:
Oddly, it was often the most obscure words that were easiest to recover. He struggled with words like blanket or bed, or his wife's name Diane, words that you would think over time should have seeped into his genes. Nevertheless, he could recruit words like postillion or tardigrades to get an idea across. This led to some counter-productive interactions with a speech therapist. Since aphasics often produce nonsense words without realizing that they aren't real words, one of the goals of therapy is to give the patient feedback on which words are real. But West would often produce bona fide words that were unknown to the therapist.  [...]
The intimate wordplay between West and [his wife Diane] Ackerman also eventually resumed, with West fashioning novel terms of endearment as gifts to his wife. The offerings were delightful. Deprived of the usual routes to language, and along with them, the common clichés that many of us struggle to shed, West bestowed on his wife exquisite pet names such as: My Little Bucket of Hair; Commendatore de le Pavane Mistletoe; Dark-Eyed Junco, My Little Bunko; Diligent Apostle of Classic Stanzas.  And at one point, the man uttered what has to be the most searingly romantic sentence ever uttered in history, by anyone, in any language:

"You are the hapax legomenon of my life."


thalia said...

Why did Julian Barnes make up IPSOPHAGY? WHY? And does it mean eating itself? If not, why not? But, to begin at the beginning . . . Why?

Zed said...

It does indeed mean self-eating; it's part of the Flaubear pun and the prec. narrative about F. referring to himself as a bear. As for WHY, dunno, but it is pretty apposite (and a good word!), isn't it? Stanley Fish, for instance, is most likely a committed ipsophage.