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New User
aal1018
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Archaic and Obscure Language

Am I the only person left on earth who delights in knowing the precise (or as close to precise as I can get) meaning an author was trying to convey when he uses a particular word and feels damn frustrated when even Goggle fails to turn up a definition? This book rates right up there with "To Kill a Mockingbird" in terms of my all-time favorite reads, but I am quite distressed at the sheer number of words he used that I simply cannot find anywhere! My children have always teased me about my reading habits that include having a dictionary by my side so this is not a new focus of mine, but it is the first time I have been confounded by so many words that aren't in the dictionary!

Anyway, did anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else know of other resources I can use to find these words? Here are just a few of the ones that have so far stumped me: "batboard" (batboard smokehouse), "entabled" (at some reckonable and entabled moment), "stoven" (the bone stoven and one eye wandering). I've read that McCarthy has a penchant for making up words and in some cases (like his use of "parsible"), I was able to determine that that was exactly what he had done.

The language McCarthy used was beautiful, haunting and powerful in conveying his message of despair (Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.) and the tender pricelessness of the here and now. Any assistance you might offer to help me locate resources to further refine my understanding of his work would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Distinguished Bibliophile
Paul_Hochman
Posts: 2,801
Registered: ‎03-23-2007
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Re: Archaic and Obscure Language

You're right. McCarthy is infamous for his vocabulary. Give "Blood Meridian" a read and you'll really be bewildered or beworded, if you like.

Stop by the Cormac McCarthy Society (see link). Pop into the forum. These folks are hands down the source for all McCarthy related questions.

http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/





aal1018 wrote:
Am I the only person left on earth who delights in knowing the precise (or as close to precise as I can get) meaning an author was trying to convey when he uses a particular word and feels damn frustrated when even Goggle fails to turn up a definition? This book rates right up there with "To Kill a Mockingbird" in terms of my all-time favorite reads, but I am quite distressed at the sheer number of words he used that I simply cannot find anywhere! My children have always teased me about my reading habits that include having a dictionary by my side so this is not a new focus of mine, but it is the first time I have been confounded by so many words that aren't in the dictionary!

Anyway, did anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else know of other resources I can use to find these words? Here are just a few of the ones that have so far stumped me: "batboard" (batboard smokehouse), "entabled" (at some reckonable and entabled moment), "stoven" (the bone stoven and one eye wandering). I've read that McCarthy has a penchant for making up words and in some cases (like his use of "parsible"), I was able to determine that that was exactly what he had done.

The language McCarthy used was beautiful, haunting and powerful in conveying his message of despair (Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.) and the tender pricelessness of the here and now. Any assistance you might offer to help me locate resources to further refine my understanding of his work would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!


Distinguished Bibliophile
Peppermill
Posts: 6,768
Registered: ‎04-04-2007
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Re: Archaic and Obscure Language

AAL1 -- there are more than a few of us ... around that enjoy playing with words -- I have long appreciated m-w.com and for about three years now have had a subscription to the unabridged version. I would hate to be without it -- ofttimes underlining as I read and then moving to the PC to do look-ups.

However, of the three words you named, only "stoven" was in the unabridged:

Main Entry: 2stoven
Pronunciation:
Function: adjective
Etymology: stove (past participle of 2stave) + -en (as in gotten)
: broken in : STAVED, SMASHED

"stoven." Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002. http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com (23 Jul. 2007).

So Paul's link may well be better for McCarthy.

ENJOY!


aal1018 wrote:
Am I the only person left on earth who delights in knowing the precise (or as close to precise as I can get) meaning an author was trying to convey when he uses a particular word and feels damn frustrated when even Goggle fails to turn up a definition? This book rates right up there with "To Kill a Mockingbird" in terms of my all-time favorite reads, but I am quite distressed at the sheer number of words he used that I simply cannot find anywhere! My children have always teased me about my reading habits that include having a dictionary by my side so this is not a new focus of mine, but it is the first time I have been confounded by so many words that aren't in the dictionary!

Anyway, did anyone else have this problem? Does anyone else know of other resources I can use to find these words? Here are just a few of the ones that have so far stumped me: "batboard" (batboard smokehouse), "entabled" (at some reckonable and entabled moment), "stoven" (the bone stoven and one eye wandering). I've read that McCarthy has a penchant for making up words and in some cases (like his use of "parsible"), I was able to determine that that was exactly what he had done.

The language McCarthy used was beautiful, haunting and powerful in conveying his message of despair (Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.) and the tender pricelessness of the here and now. Any assistance you might offer to help me locate resources to further refine my understanding of his work would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
New User
eamonn
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-13-2008
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Re: Archaic and Obscure Language

I came across the same passage in the book and looked up each word as best I could. Entabled seems to hint at entablature, coming from the Latin for tablua which means tablet. An entablature is supported by columns in Greek and Roman architecture forming the superstructure of buildings. So in the context what entabled means is a supported structuring of the world through a recorded writing. The paragraph itself ends with this : He is coming to steal my eyes. To seal my mouth with dirt.

In other words to author fears how the reader recreates the world through his own images, corrupting the world that was, and effectively burying the author both literally with dirt, but also filling his mouth so that his own expressions are stifled in this invasive act of recreation through the written record that is left behind or what has been entabled.
New User
NeologicalNerd
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎01-02-2010
0 Kudos

Re: Archaic and Obscure Language

It is quite ironic that I find the e-mail from you pertaining to "made up" words derived from Cormac McCarthy's book "The Road". It came up when I was looking up the word "parsible", which I couldn't find anywhere in my dictionaries!! There is the word "parse", but no "parsible".

 

I also happen to carry around a "Sharp" electronic Oxford dictionary wherever I go to check out words I've never seen before or have forgotten the meanings of. I actually made a list of the words I couldn't find from the book and was going to check out every one of them, but after reading the e-mails here regarding this problem, I've decided not to bother. It is frustrating when an author, whose book you liked (however bleak as this book is), decides to use words that don't exist officially. If an author decides to go this route, he or she should at least admit that these are made up words (using, I presume, the well-used way out called "artistic license") and define them for us in the context of the storyline (such as Robert Jordan did in his "Glossary" included in the first book of his "Wheels of Time" series)!!!

 

In addition to the aforementioned "batboard" and "entabled" that can't "officially" be found to exist, I found:

 

"parsible" (as you mentioned in an aside)

"skift"

"wooden jig"

"boxwoods"

hapstaple"

"illucid"

"patteran"

"seaoat"

"mae west"

"pampooties"

"salitter"

"broadhead"

"strapiron"

"scarpbolts"

"crozzled"

"hagmoss"

"hydroptic"

 

All these "words" were found bunched close together in the last 20 pages or so of the book. Was he having some kind of twisted epiphany at the time that muddled his brain and encouraged him to start making up words?

 

It's the only blemish in what was an otherwise well-written, although extremely bleak book, that also happened to be a Pulitzer Prize winner. I guess that "neologistic" artistic license in this case was not enough to dissuade the judges from awarding him the Pulitzer Prize for his book anyway.

 

Being an avid "neologian", I love discovering new words, but please, in future, all you authors out there, ensure that they actually exist, otherwise it could mar my reading experience of any book of yours that I happen to be reading at the time. 

 

I am sure you ("aal1018") would agree.

 

Note that I went to the trouble of putting quotation marks around the words "neologisitic" and "neologian" because, although the word neologism definitely exists, the adjectival forms of the word technically do not exist (but they should!!!)!!!

 

By the way, I will probably rent the movie version when it comes out on DVD. Hopefully the screenwriter(s) will have used common sense and omitted the "words that don't exist" from the script!!!

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