Category Archives: word tasting notes

Moher

When people come to Ireland, they see the towns, of course. Dublin, naturally. Galway or Cork, perhaps. A few others. But many people want to see more. In particular, they want to see Moher.

What is Moher? The mother of all cliffs – all Irish cliffs, anyway. The western edge of the emerald isle, breaking off and tumbling into the sea. Up top it may be coated with a mossy mohair of grass that has moo-ers for mowers, but the drop-off gets to 214 metres (702 feet), straight into the waters of the Atlantic. And of course someone (named O’Brien) built a stone tower on top of the highest point just to get a better view. Or to impress people. Continue reading

Galway

I’ve just gotten back from a week in Ireland with Aina, in case you were wondering where I’d gotten to. We saw a lot of the country and I took a lot of pictures. And the first county and city we unpacked our bags in was Galway. Continue reading

simulacrum

The very appearance of this word gives the impression of erudition. It may have an almost-complete lack at its heart, braced between mu (either Zen emptiness or Greek microscopy) and um (hesitation, inchoate incoherence), but it opens with si, an eternal ‘yes’ or an eternal ‘if’ or both. And it presents itself as Latin, a dead language that is the badge of a live intellect… or an undead one, anyway. Continue reading

thring

In the dark, they thring. They thring towards the blinding light. They thring against the fences, up the stairs, at the railings. They thring, arms upraised, reaching their electronic eyes in the palms of their hands towards it to see, to record, to remember.

Are they thriving? Are they thirsting? Are they furthering? Are they throwing or flinging themselves forward? They are thronging like some large multiform dark evolving thing. They are thringing. Continue reading

philobiblist

Last weekend, Word on the Street happened at Harbourfront in Toronto. The lexically lascivious and philosophically bibulous went on a spree. Many a booth had many a book and many a buyer went on many a page bender, adding liberally to their bibliographic lists without the need of fiscal phlebotomy. Continue reading

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frain

OK, you know refrain, obviously. As in refrain from doing that, meaning ‘restrain yourself from doing that’ or, in common use, ‘I’m asking you not to do that again’. And as in sing the refrain, meaning ‘sing the part that you sing over and over again’. Which therefore means that refrain from singing the refrain means ‘I’m asking you not to sing the part you sing again again’.

So wait. Is the re– in refrain as in ‘restrain’ the re– that means ‘hold back’ or ‘go back’ – and thus ‘double back’ – while the re– in refrain as in ‘repeat’ is the re– that means ‘do again’ – and thus ‘double up’?

Why, yes, that’s right.

So the re and re in refrain from the refrain cancel each other out and leave us with frain from frain.

But what does frain mean? Continue reading