Monday, September 7, 2015

Old Words

Attaskt with bringing obscure words back into use, we begnawed the matter, scratching our bubukles as we did so. Fellow researchers congreed that the conspectuity was immoment. Incorpsing our plantage in mistempered account book, we were rewarded with oppugnancy, against which we offered no propugnation. Reprobance has seldom made us so rubious.

--TLS back page, August 7. The words are all said to have been coined by Shakespeare, and come from To Be or Not to Be by Liz Evers.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I'm not much for Shakespeare - I find his work interesting from a historical standpoint, but largely boring from an enjoyment one - and I can't say any of these invented words of his strike me with any real force.

Then again, here they've been robbed of all context, and with Shakespeare in particular the matter of who is saying something is far more important than what they are actually saying, which is precisely why he created such thrown together words - they were supposed to reflect the natures and personalities of the characters speaking them.

In general though, I do have a fondness for forgotten or obscure words, with the caveat that I have to be able to put them to some actual usage at some point. They have to capture either a certain unique shade of meaning that other words don't already, or they need to invoke a particular feeling or mood in being snynonymous.

For example, "attaskt" fails for me in this regards, because it's really just a convoluted variation of "tasked" - it doesn't bring anything new to the usage except to sound stereotypically "ye olde Elizabethan", which is something I have no real occasion to sound like.

In contrast, I'm quite fond of words like "bumbershoot" - while its meaning is essentially identical to "umbrella", its sound and mood is strikingly different, being a more playful, whimsical word in nature. There's also an additional layer of vague conceptual connotation, with the "shoot" bit seeming to invoke parachutes.

Basically if I can't bandy the word about in a usefully distinct manner compared to its nearest synonyms, either for the purposes of precision or for wordplay, then I don't imagine I'll ever find much occasion to utter or write it.