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Weird Words
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 6 May, 2020 07:30PM
Over a decade ago I purchased Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon by Dan Clore. This scholarly tome has been very useful when I encounter a particularly abstruse or recondite term from certain fictional works (I'm sure you can guess the ones I am referring to!) Apart from such utile consultation I am also reading it cover to cover, for pleasure. I'm about a third of the way through it--the next word to come is "dryad". I'm certainly not rushing it; usually I read a couple pages (or definitions) every other month or so.

During the current shelter-in-place isolation I have perhaps gained a bit more time to contemplate small pleasures. I'm largely the stay-at-home type to begin with, so naturally my thoughts have turned to reading and books--in particular words that one rarely encounters in day-to-day usage. For instance....

lucubration, n. [< lucubrate, literally "to work by artificial light"] Nocturnal study and meditation.

(from Weird Words by Dan Clore)

Imagine my delight when I came across the following passage:

Namour turned his head and appraised the table. Tonight, fixed into his silver hair on the right side of his head, he wore a small but elegant confection of black iron, polished jet cabochons, with a single carbuncle glowing with the sultry fury of a red star: presumably the present of an admirer. With a languid step he approached the table. "Hard at your lucubrations, so I see."

(Jack Vance, Araminta Station, pg. 200, (1988)

You go, Jack! Of course, you wouldn't want (or need) to use this word in everyday conversation, but isn't it nice to know that it's there just in case you had to offer an ironic putdown to a table of literary wastrels?

Re: Weird Words
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 6 May, 2020 07:57PM
Great stuff!


"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Weird Words
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 7 May, 2020 01:05AM
Glad to see one more admirer of Jack Vance alongside CAS. And the happy literary association burning quietly between the two authors. Like CAS, Vance was also a master wordsmith.

Araminta Station is one of very few books of his that I have not read yet. Been saving it, to cheer me up in the event of dreary future times (we're not quite there yet). Look very much forward to it.

As for weird words, I use Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary. I once had an old massive edition of Webster's dictionary, with even more entries, that was like a foot thick. But couldn't motivate myself keeping it, because it completely dominated my relatively small library. Pressing out the very air space of the room when lifted up on a table. It was ridiculous. So I got the more moderate edition instead, and it has been of much usefulness.

Re: Weird Words
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 May, 2020 02:23PM
Kokor Hekkus - villain from yet another of Vance's books. I think that is pretty weird. It gave me shivers, and pulled at my sanity, first time I saw it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 8 May 20 | 02:38PM by Knygatin.

Re: Weird Words
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 May, 2020 02:36PM
Avoosl Wuthoqquan - that an English speaking gentleman like Clark Ashton Smith would shape his lips and tongue to utter such a sound, is remarkably weird.

Re: Weird Words
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 May, 2020 03:51PM
Krokinole - planet in a far away solar system, in the same Vance book as above. The vast un-scalable stellar distance, has the same effect as for things slipped way back in ancient time and lost to the Ages. Which makes the planet a thing of Myth, Fable and Legend, and Fantasy. It exists, and yet it doesn't as far as our own reality is concerned. That is weird.

Herb Frankbert - Vance used his friend (author of Dune) as a character in his book, by rearranging sections of the name. Simple but effective. Weird sounding, and funny.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 8 May 20 | 03:59PM by Knygatin.

Re: Weird Words
Posted by: Ken K. (IP Logged)
Date: 12 May, 2020 12:47AM
Frank Herbert was also not above giving a shout-out to his fellow scribes, as seen from two works referenced in the appendices to his classic novel Dune:

St. Alia, Huntress of a Billion Worlds by Pander Oulson

The Strangler Vines of Ecaz by Holjance Vohnbrook

I got the "Pander Oulson" reference at once, but "Holjance Vohnbrook" threw me until I learned about Jack Vance's parallel career as mystery writer John Holbrook Vance.

This makes me wonder if Poul Anderson ever indulged in this type of literary play. I wouldn't be surprised--it's pretty much the same thing that the Lovecraft Circle did.

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