Monthly Archives: January 2020

glower

You know that you when you glow you radiate: light comes from you, and warmth too. But are you also a glower when you glower? Continue reading

cenesthesia

Cenesthesia is, according to Merriam-Webster, “the general feeling of inhabiting one’s body that arises from multiple stimuli from various bodily organs.” It is also spelled coenesthesia, reflecting its roots in Greek κοινός koinos (Latinized as coen–) ‘common’ and αἴσθησις aisthesis (Latinized as aesthesis) ‘sensation, feeling, perception’. But coenesthesia tempts a person to say it as “co-enesthesia,” when in fact it is to be said as “seen-esthesia” – very similar to synaesthesia, which, however, it is not (that’s cross-modal perception, as when a person has a tactile or visual sensation in response to a sound). There’s no point in trying to make it closer to the Greek or Latin pronunciation; it was assembled from the classic plastic bricks in the mid-1800s.

I think a poem is appropriate. Here. Continue reading

wordcess

“At the end of the day, this is, you know – and it’s important to have, it’s important to understand these things – but in the final analysis, we’re going to make sure that the people who work hard for their families, that when it comes down to it, there’s an opportunity, and I want, and I think you all understand and respect, but there are priorities, and we need to make sure we take action on what matters.” Continue reading

chirapsia

Another poem for you. Today’s word is chirapsia, which means ‘manual friction’ or ‘massage’; it comes from Greek χειραψία, which could mean ‘gentle friction’ or ‘hand-to-hand combat’ (!), from χείρ kheir ‘hand’ and ἅπτω hapto ‘I touch’. Continue reading

Quasimodo

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera.
—Salvatore Quasimodo

Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth
transfixed by a ray of sun:
and it is suddenly evening.

Does the poet’s name ring a bell? Everyone who sees Quasimodo thinks first of a hunchback. Well, not everyone. Some think first of a poet. Some think first of the Sunday after Easter. Some, perhaps, think first of truth, and of love. Continue reading

Pronunciation tip: hegemony

There’s probably not a person who knows this word who wasn’t confused about the pronunciation the first time they saw it. It’s OK, though: there are many different accepted and established pronunciations. But there is one that, in my experience, is more reliable than the others. Here’s a bit of talk-head-gemony to lay it down for you.

ranticle

The other day, while playing Scrabble, I saw that I could play the word RANTICLE… if only it were a word. Well, I want it to be a word. And obviously it’s a canticle that’s a rant, or a rant that’s a canticle. Or maybe it’s just a little rant. Whatever. Here is a ranticle for you! (Click on the audio above to hear me sing it.)

Here’s to the people you see every day
Who stop on the sidewalk, ignoring the fray,
In ones, twos, and sixes, and get in the way:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

Here’s to the chuckers of trash on the street,
Of wrappers and cigarettes under your feet,
Who think it’s for others to keep the world neat:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

Here’s to the grammar creeps stuck on correct
Who pounce on each error they chance to detect
But treat fellow humans with zero respect:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

Here’s to the journalists, eager for story,
Who haunt the bereaved any time it turns gory,
And zoom in on tears of the upset and sorry:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

Here’s to the drivers, lead foot on the gas,
Who hang on your bumper, so eager to pass
That if you slowed down they’d ram right up your… tailpipe:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

Here’s to the whiners who always protest
When some inequality might be redressed
And by “common sense” mean they get to be best:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

Here’s to the thoughtless, whatever their station,
In things of the neighbourhood and of the nation,
Who can’t spare two seconds for consideration:
Watch what you do! What’s wrong with you!

imminent, immanent

You really want to listen to this one:

Here’s a manic mnemonic for imminent versus immanent: Continue reading

Pronunciation tip: Turandot

There are, probably unsurprisingly, many people who are unsure how to pronounce the name of the opera Turandot (and its title character). There are also, also (alas) unsurprisingly, people with very strong opinions on the subject, and they don’t all agree. So it’s my turn with the facts. No one sleeps until we sort this out!

threnody

Today, a poem on threnody, which is a song of mourning, from Greek θρηνῳδία.

A wail, a wave, a melody,
a singing throng, a mourning song,
a lilt of loss, a threnody,

enthralling, throttling, memory
relief and peace of grief release,
a pyre of choir, a threnody,

the seamstress of humanity
to rip the skin and stitch within,
a thread, a threat, a threnody.