Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jayne is not dead. In fact, she thinks she'll go for a walk.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I am not, in fact, dead nor have I stumbled through a rip in space and time and ended up in a place with no Internet access. I've moved into my new apartment, am almost unpacked, have started a summer class, and am now desperately trying to find the laundry room in my building (that actually may have fallen through a rip in space and time).

The point of that list was not only to bore you to death with things not geek-related but to point out that I'll probably won't be popping up with bitter tirades during the next couple of weeks. I will try to abuse the scanner at the writing lab to bring you some comic goodness at some point, and expect to see some rambly post about a video game at least three years old because that's just how I roll.

I thought I would take this opportunity to stop working on one story that is slowly pushing me to view defenestration as a good idea, and instead talk a little about a book I recently read. The book is Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea.

Yes, I am reading a book about a man reading the Oxford English Dictionary. Look, I am a contributor to a blog called The Geekiest Girls You Know. This cannot be a surprise to any of you.

Reading the OED is light and fun, especially if you love the English language, which I do (see above for defenestration). The book is broken into chapters that follow the individual letters of the alphabet, and it's nice framing device. Each chapter doesn't deal explicitly with the OED, but more of Shea's experiences reading it. Shea takes a lot of tangents to explain his love of dictionaries, talking about optometrist he's been seeing since he was child, some history on dictionaries themselves, and boils down to a lot of free association. The result is charming and sweet, if perhaps lacking focus.

What really makes the book, though, is that at the end of each chapter is a list of words Shea has discovered while reading the OED. He lists his favorite words with his simplified definition, and buying this book alone is worth it for the words he finds.

I love words and languages, and especially English because English is the kind of language that accosts other languages in a dark alley and rifles through its pockets for spare adverbs. I mean, English actually has a word that means to throw yourself out a window (defenestration, and MST3K made a joke about refenestration, proving they are all giant dorks and I love them).

How can you not love a book that finds words that mean the approach of evening (advesperate), the point on the back on a animal that lies between the shoulders and the lower back, which cannot be reached to scratch (acenstious), or being equal to another in stupidity (uasinous)? You can't is my point.

As an aside, English also has a word that means the action of frizzling (hair). That word is frizilation and is relevant to my life because that's all my hair does when it senses even the smallest amount of moisture, which causes it to expand to thrice it's normal size. I now have a word to put to the sensation of my hair frizzing in every direction: it is frizalting. Also, I stumbled across it because I was bored one day and looking up random words in the OED online. Why, what do you do when you're bored?

One of the other words Shea defines is wonderclout (n): a thing that is showy but worthless. This is one of the words that makes me wonder how I ever got along without it. You know that move in any video game that is always really awesome looking but doesn't serve a purpose? It's a wonderclout. Any geek's encyclopedic knowledge of comic books and tendency to obsess over continuity to the point of distraction is a wonderclout. My ability to keep a running list of the Absolutely, Non-Slanderous, Completely True Facts about Alan Moore is a wonderclout. This entire post talking about language and words is a wonderclout. Damn, that word is useful.

But my new absolute favorite word, edging out frizilation and defenestration and wonderclout is unbepissed.

Unbepissed (adj.): not having been urinated on; unwet with urine.

That's right, there was apparently a time in human history that being peed on or covered with urine was so rampant you needed a special word to mean you were urine-free. This is also my new favorite response to the question "how was your day?" because if your day was so gut wrenching awful the only thing you can say about it in response is that no one peed on you, well, that really sums up the suck of your day in one short, awesome word.

Goddamn, I love English.

Oh, in unpacking I found my copy of Ed Wood's Death of Transvestite, so expect a wonderclout recap of that book.

In conclusion, I hope that your day, dear reader, has remained unbepissed.

1 comment:

Darcy said...

There are no words for how much I love you, and this post. Or maybe there ARE!?