Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Archaic Words

Okay, so I finished my book- "The Secrets Of The German War Office" by Armgaard Karl Graves, and save for the last few chapters it wasn't bad. Clearly the author was smitten with all things German (although he was Scottish), and as this was published at the outbreak of WWI, his predictions were laughably amiss. The bullshit factor and factual inaccuracy level was pretty high, but I think the "meat and potatoes" part of this tome were the stories he told that were detailed enough to be plausible. I'm inclined to think that he told the truth about a secret meeting of heads of state from the UK (Haldane, and Churchill), Germany (Wachter, and Kaiser Wilhelm) and Austria (von Auffenberg) at Taunus Hills in Schlangenbad. I'm inclined to believe this for a number of reasons, not limited to the fact that it would have been logistically possible, the relations between France and the UK were not as solid as outward diplomatic appearances would have suggested, it would seem consistent with the authors mysterious release from prison, and that this is one boast that he buttresses with physical evidence.

But that's not what I'm posting about.

The copy I have is the 6th printing (it was a minor phenomonon* at the time) and I was struck at the number of words used that I couldn't extemporaneously define. I submit the following (the links provide definitions- and if I've snarfed up any of the links, please let me know):

Acme - yes, really- not like on the Road Runner cartoons.
Appanage - not appendage
Parley- if you saw Pirates of the Caribbean, you're probably right on this one.

He was fond of using French terms and I never studied French, but I knew these: bon vivant, mondaines, gendarmes, and qui vive. I also knew that Albion is the ancient name for England, but I didn't know that Basutoland was the former name of Lesotho, and that Touareg (like the Volkswagen SUV) or Tuareg is the name of a group of Saharan Berbers. I can't imagine a VW Touareg being all that useful in the Sahara...

So, these are my newest words, and I'll try to drop them in often enough to befuddle the mouth-breathers with whom I invariably must converse. Incidentally, this book while surely out of print, is also apparently out of copyright, and is available online as a PDF file if you would like to read it- get it here (and that Project Gutenberg is some seriously cool shit.)

* See this



Blogger Lexcen said...

parvenu-A person who has suddenly risen to a higher economic status but has not gained social acceptance of others in that class
antecedents- Someone from whom you are descended (but usually more remote than a grandparent)
desultory- Marked by lack of definite plan or regularity or purpose; jumping from one thing to another
persiflage- light teasing
acme- The highest level or degree attainable; the highest stage of development
Odium - state of disgrace resulting from detestable behavior
appanage - Any customary and rightful perquisite appropriate to your station in life
portiere - A heavy curtain hung across a doorway
Legation- a permanent diplomatic position headed by a minister
parley- a negotiation between enemies
togs- clothing
foolscap - size of paper
felicities - Pleasing and appropriate manner or style (especially manner or style of expression)
affray - noisy quarrel
stanch - stop the flow of liquid
cupidity - extreme greed for material wealth
aquiline - curved like an eagles beak
victual - any substance that can be used as food
confreres - a person who is a member of your class or profession.

I used WordWeb, a free dictionary program. If you can't find it I'll send it to you. this was fun.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

Of your list, I know the meanings of "antecedents" (though I know that because I'm an English teacher - as a matter of fact, I did a Grammar Wednesday about antecedents today - I can extrapolate the meaning from that knowledge), desultory, parley, felicities, stanch, aquiline, and victual. The rest, I'd have to look up.

4:18 AM  
Blogger nic said...

I prefer to learn the meanings of words through context. Exposure and later re-exposure tends to solidify a functional meaning, in my mind, at least. Quite a few of them I recognize. But what they are, I'm not going to tell you. (Headache. Ouch.)

Project Gutenberg kicks @ss. I downloaded an audio book when they had a little freebie thing for them. Mark Twain's On the Decay of the Art of Lying.. or something like that. Genius.

6:00 AM  
Blogger nic said...

By the way, "victual" is one of those words that everyone's heard. The trick is that it's not pronounced the way it's spelled; it's pronounced "vittle." Think of someone with a southern drawl and a lousy education saying, "I'm gonna have me some chicken victuals tonight!"

Thus ends the mini lesson.
(I'm a teacher-librarian among other things..)

6:11 AM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Heyya Lex- there should have been links for all the words to their definition at dictionary.com. Sorry if it didn't work.

Mrs. C.- Mostly I try to remember words that are offensive or vulgar. None of these really seemed to register in that regard. :)

Nic- the problem with trying to learn in context (as I see it) is that some shit-for-brains can misuse a word and then you're as wrong as they are. Imagine how all the people learning English are being polluted by the Prez. Tragic. And also, spelling from context can be problematic. Exhibit A- "tender vittles".

12:51 PM  
Blogger slaghammer said...

“Victuals” is one of my favorite words. But I never use the correct spelling when I write it because so few people make the connection between “victuals” and “vittles.” It reminds me of the Beverly Hillbillies.

4:53 PM  
Blogger TTQ said...

Crikey- I'm a freaking geek. Why must you alway shatter my self-assumed coolness factor? I knew enough of the words to mortified that I know.

6:27 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

For 25 years i have carried a dictionary with me. It was printed at Oxford University Press in 1925. Its leather binding is falling to pieces but i love it. Talk about some archaic words. And, of course, it's a rather slim volume because there was such an enormous amount of words added during the 20th century (mainly to do with technology). I think i listed some of them on one of my past blogs. I love old words.

8:00 AM  
Blogger General Catz said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:01 AM  

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