Daily Archives: November 6, 2008


A soothing wave-wash of a word, suited for whispering in the ear over steam rising from the collar. Not a stop in it after the crisp opener – the second c is softened and the t shuns the tap. The word begins with the prefix we see in conjoin and congratulate but also in contend and constern: things come together for better or worse. In this case, it’s calming, with fricatives, liquids and nasals. The middle of the word may sound silly, but it also has the slipping smoothness of silk and the silent shine of silver. In the end is the functional ation, a suffix as ubiquitous as doughnut shops (where contending parties may come to terms over coffee); it takes an action and makes it a noun, a thing, a counsel to keep – or in this case perhaps a council, which comes from the same Latin origins: it’s a meeting of the bodies, and this is a meeting of the minds. Or at least a hoped-for one; we note that it’s so often preceded by “attempt(s) at.”