Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mixed bag

IN the quest for new words, one often tends to overlook those that exist but are hibernating for some reason or the other. Today, some of these words have been brought out into the open, to be kept passive till the time comes to display them with a grand flourish. It was an enjoyable exercise to dig them out and hope using them turns out to be as enjoyable.

It is pretty common to come across misogynists, but a misologist which comes from ‘misology’ is a new one. A hatred of logic or reason is termed ‘misology’, a word that owes its origin to the Greek words miso or ‘hate’ and logy or ‘study’.

An ‘incunabulum’ is a book printed during the infancy of printing, especially one produced before 1501. The word comes from the Latin word cunae that means ‘infancy’ and is also used for ‘swaddling clothes’ or ‘cradle’. The connection with a newly born book is instant. The first printing press turned out books in the year 1450 and the books printed during this year were called ‘incunabula’. Later on, the term came to be used for any creation in its early period.

People sometimes end their signatures with a flourish, today it is listed as stylish, but in earlier times, it was more used as a precaution against forgery. This flourish is called ‘the paraph’ and it comes from the Greek paragraphos that was ‘a short, horizontal stroke’.

This one is for all those who are looking for points to meditate on! Omphaloskepsis, a Greek word created from omphalos or ‘navel’ and skepsis or ‘examination’ adds up to ‘the contemplation of one’s navel’.

Now, this is a fancy name for the one who does the water duty, such a person can be called a ‘zanjero’. Zanjero is Spanish for ditch or irrigation canal and, in the past, the person who looked after the water distribution was named after the water source. An obsolete profession now, but who knows, with the state of the environment, it might get revived?