|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation o she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
Anyone who has read my articles over the years is aware of my life-long love affair with words. English is a wonderful language for lovers of words because there are just so darn many of them with origins and multiple languages. But don't take my word for it, go to a bookstore and pull out a dictionary from any other language and compare it to a similarly sized English dictionary. You will be amazed.
I read a lot, and in the course of my literary adventures I occasionally come across words that I have never seen before, or vaguely recognize but have forgotten the definition. I have a small notebook by my bed where I write them down for further exploration at a later time. I hope you don't mind if I share a few with you.
If I were actually in love with words, or a word, I would be suffering from animism. I was able to generally figure out what animism was without looking it up, but when I did it led to all sorts of strange information. Animism is a condition where people assign actually life, feelings, and emotions to inanimate objects. I'm not talking Bugs Bunny, who at least has a personality and a Brooklyn accent; I'm talking about actual solid objects, and they fall in love with them. Really in love, with all the extremes of emotion, passion, and tenderness that accompany the condition. I read about one woman who fell in love with the Eiffel Tower to such a degree that she had pictures of it on her desk in her office, wrote poetry to it, and generally behaved as if it were Brad Pitt. The romance blossomed and she eventually married it, with her family and friends in attendance. She even changed her last name to Eiffel, proving that she is an old-fashioned girl and wanted a traditional marriage. Sadly, she doesn't see a lot of her 'husband' since he lives a huge, solid, and stationary existence in Paris and she lives in Ohio.
Another woman about whom I read fell in love with a specific section of the Berlin Wall and considered it her soul mate. Naturally, she was devastated when someone dismantled it with a sledge hammer. The poor guy had no idea that he was destroying a beautiful relationship, he was just a happy German striking a blow for reunification.
Evidently, people fall in love with everything from toasters to pipe organs. It might seem sort of sad, but consider this. You don't have to worry about your toaster getting hammered with the guys, forgetting your birthday, being mean to your mother, or running away with your best friend. Unless she steals it, of course.
Antimacassar is a good word. The first time I heard it I thought it sounded like the name of some ancient kingdom in northern Africa or maybe the proper name of some historic or biblical prince...'The king of the Hittites, Antimacassar, fought a war against the Philistines.' I liked it, it sounded appropriately biblical. But no, (and much to my amazement), it seems that an antimacassar is one of those doily things that your grandmother used to put on the back and arms of her chairs. Researching further, I discovered that a macassar was a pomade or hair oil frequently used by Victorian gentlemen that had a tendency to rub off on things, like the backs of chairs, making an antimacassar a defensive weapon for Victorian housekeepers who weren't looking to decorate as much as they were determined to keep the oily slime from a gentleman's 'do' from rubbing off on their furniture.
One of my absolute favorite words is defenestration. This is one of those wonderful words that enter language because there is an actual need for a word to describe or define something unique. And defenestration is unique, I'm here to tell you. The dictionary definition of defenestration is: the act of bodily throwing someone out of a window. So help me. It was coined in 1618 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where there was some conflict that focused on an argument between Protestants and Catholics regarding who owned land that they both wanted to build churches on. The Protestants, who felt they were being denied religious freedom, formed a neat little mob, strong armed their way into the Bohemian Chancellery, where the Catholic officials were hanging out, and tossed the lot of them, along with their secretary, out of the windows. The fellows being tossed fell 30 meters into a dry moat full of manure, which saved their lives. They were later to claim that their survival was thanks to the intervention of angels, thereby proving the righteousness of their cause and prompting an official period of thanks giving. Their rivals put out a pamphlet pointing out that they should really be be thanking the horses who created the manure and the guys working in the stables who shoveled it into the moat. Human history is rich, violent, filled with fascinating people, and apparently, written by Monty Python.