Thursday, June 23, 2005

Short Wednesday Leftovers

There was something which I wanted to write about yesterday, but I was rather busy with one thing and another. (Some of us call it "work"...) Actually I did not write it yesterday because I left the book I needed sitting somewhere and forgot where it was... then found it too late at night and had other things to write (maybe some year they will be here!)

You see, I got this very interesting book last week when I was at the Loome used-book stores. (Well, it wasn't by Chesterton, but then you should remember what it say at the top of this page: anything "from pork to pyrotechnics"...)

The book is a curious monograph called Modern English Word-Formation and Neo-Latin by Anna Granville Hatcher. The book studies the origins of "copulative compounds" - that is, words like "Word-Formation" and "Neo-Latin"... (hee hee)

I flipped through it and two GIGANTIC long words caught my eye. They were even in Greek! It suggested a nice fun thing for a Short Tuesday paradox...

So, from now on, you can look forward to LWoSW: which is "Long Words on Short Wednesdays" - and even though it is late, here is the first installment...

Long Words on Short Wednesdays 2005/06/22 (late!)

If someone asks about long words, many people suggest the famous 28-character "antidisestablishmentarianism".

Or they refer to the perhaps even more famous 34 character Poppins word (which I do not recall as having been in the book): "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".

Chesterton has one which exceeds this by four letters: the title of a poem in his The Coloured Lands... "Plakkopytrixophylisperambulantiobatrix" which I am told, can be sung to the same "Poppins" song. (No, I will NOT provide a .wav file for you!) It would be phrased thus:

Plakk-o pyt-trix o-phil-lisp-er am-bu lan-tio ba-trix

Ahem. To resume, about this book and its long words. In some other book (which I also cannot find at present) there are some nice long Greek words, which somehow make it even funnier, because they can actually be translated - and I always DID wonder what the Poppins word meant! (The poem tells about the GKC word, which I omit for reasons of brevity...) I think the other book was by D. L. Sayers, who was a WONDERFUL writer... (ah, I am sorry, I am wandering off topic again...)

Anyhow, there are a BUNCH of nice long Greek words, which I cannot render in Greek characters just now (I have to learn the incantation to do it, and Hogwarts is on summer break at present!) So I will write it in English...

Batracho-muo-machia = "War between Mice and Frogs" (a poem, once thought to be the work of Homer!)

Then in a footnote were these (which was what caught my eye in the first place!)

hO spermagoraiolekitholachanopOlides!
hO skorodopandokeutriartopOlides

Note: the big O is long (omega); the others are short (omicron).

The first word (31 Greek letters) means "market-sellers of seeds, peasepudding and greengroceries".

The second word (29 Greek letters) means "Bread and garlic selling hostess"

They are apparently from Aristophanes, who wrote odd plays about Frogs and such. I remember there is another Greek word he used which is supposed to be the frogs croaking, and some school or other uses it for a cheer. What a cool thing that must be at a football game! I think it was spelled like this:

"Brek-kek-kek-kek-kex. Ko-ax, Ko-ax."

Wow. Try it yourself. Go ahead- say it out loud, in your office or in the library - go right ahead! (You have to do it with a Greek accent. Maybe buy some garlic...)

Yeah - it's just like frogs. (No more "ribbit" for us.)

OK, maybe this is a bit too long for a Short Wednesday. But - hey - it's Thursday...


At 25 June, 2005 19:21, Blogger Marc the polar bear said...

Such richness there is in words that stretch from Upper Mongolia to Darwin Australia. I know there are some German words that seem to go for ever, to describe the minutest operating details of one thing or another. I love that kind of precision and detail. This is not to say you should go around using huge words and bloated expressions all the time,lest ye sound like a pompous twit, which no one in this forum does. But we all know some writers suffer from scrivenal diarrhea, and woe and lamentation when the Peptol Bismol cannot be found. Orwell I believe wrote an interesting piece on the English language with respect to verbiage.
Now conversely, we do not want to go the other way, which is the scary Orwellian end, which is the reduction, simplification, and essential elimination of words. When you start down this road, you really do start getting rid of certain ideas and thoughts, or at least they are harder to come by. And when you work with a pretty stupid population, the results are frightening.

Now having said all what I have written, am I guilty of of the aforementioned condition? At times, yup.

If a 35 letter word will do better than a five letter one, then use it. And vice versa.

As for Dr. Thursday's singing voice, well, we cannot judge until we have heard. :-)

You cannot be worse than the average computer scientist and Catholic lover of Chesterton right? :-)

I think you should give us a rendition of "If I were a rich man." Feel free to use longer words if you wish. :-)

Looking forward to meeting you when I DO get to PA prithee this fall.

At 27 June, 2005 18:17, Blogger Dr. Thursday said...

I am not exactly sure what "rich" means (at least in this context!)

But I am certain that I have been given many gifts, and I hope I am using them as I should...

But I am not sure whether my singing could be considered a gift... (Perhaps when I stop? Hee hee)

But psoting is different. Of course there is always the "Umlaut song" - and also the extremely famous and useful "Garlic Song" - the singing of which was only a part of MY rescuing of Earth from the ravages of the insidious Comet Eetook... Oh, you never heard of that? That will come another day (this is not the day for that kind of posting!) The "Umlaut Song" is short, and will probably appear on Short Wednesday if I remember to do it then.

But I have no intention of undoing all the good of the Garlic Song by posting .wav files of me singing out here in the e-cosmos!

(PS: Thanks for the comments, Marc - and we shall discuss future plans, er, in the future.)

At 27 June, 2005 20:11, Blogger Nancy C. Brown said...

All I can say is "Brek-kek-kek"
But the frogs in this neck of the woods go like this (frog.wav.nancy.silly) or braaaawwwww-braaaawwww, said with a southern accent. They actually sound like the motor of a fan, which is what I thought it was when I first heard them. I have since informed myself that they are bull frogs.
So what does supercalifragilisticexpealidocious actually mean in greek?


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