Daily Archives: October 21, 2013

bibelot

Ah, those loveable liquids and bilabials, blubbering their inimitable obligato over and under the laborious lumbering blather, belonging to and yet abnegating the rebarbative obnubilating rhubarb. They are like little bibelots, perhaps those imbibible bibelots brought by a bibulous libertine: presentable bottles in inimitable shapes, bulbs of ablutions and oblique solutions, little flasks of liquor convertible into baubles. How the /b/ and /l/ sounds bubble the language, lapping and bursting, burbling like a jabberwock, or jubilating like the balls and bits on a tannenbaum! Bibelots? Indubitably.

Of course, one could make a case for any lapidary phoneme to be a bit of a bibelot. Language is a toybox, a knick-knack shelf full of geegaws and tchotchkes, but exceedingly useful ones. Even if you imbibe a lot of vocabulary, you will still find the individual sounds to be as rubies and berylliums. Or at least as loveable as, say, a collection of souvenir bells or stoppered bottles. And of course they assemble into words that have even more collectible amiability.

Take bibelot. Yes, here, take it. Keep it; there’s lots to go around. It’s borrowed from French, which is why we are meant to say it as “bib-lo” or, in the French manner, like English “be below.” It comes from Old French bel ‘pretty’ (also seen in archaic English bellibone, a pretty and nice girl, from belle et bonne), reduplicated playfully to belbel, and thence to beubelet, and finally into the modern form, borrowed into English less than a sesquicentury ago. It is a collectible, a curio, a trinket, a small souvenir, a little talisman or fetish, perhaps. And, as it happens, that is also what it means. So it is a lovely little bauble to bestow on an amiable bibliophile bellibone lingually and bilabially (with your tongue and lips).