Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Vocabulary Lesson

That’s what reading ‘The Sea’ by John Banville felt like. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s uncool reading a book after it has won the Booker, but when did I start giving a shit. Well anyway, I had to reach for the dictionary so many times while reading it that I just gave up (not on the book, the dictionary) and resorted to making circles around words that I didn't get, with a pencil. More about the book later, but first the results of my diligent work.

Manikins- dummy
Etiolated- bleach, whiten
Quotidian- customary, accustomed
Revenant- apparition, specter
Immured- shut in, locked in
Insouciant- carefree, untroubled
Spire- tall structure, skyscraper
Sough- sigh, whisper
Stipples- dot, dab
Rump- buttocks, bottom
Venial- excusable, forgivable
Lassitude- lethargy, languor
Papules- blemish
Euphonious- melodious, sonorous
Grog- alchohol, booze
Coevals- coexistent, simultaneous
Fronds- leaf, blade
Doilies- floor covering, doormat
Savant- scholar, learned person
Homunculus- midget, gnome
Canker- sore, ulcer
Russet- reddish brown, copper colored
Nosegays- bouquet
Desiccated- dry, parched
Gobs- lump of earth
Refection- principal meal of the day
Kippers- add salt, season
Whorled- spiral, coil
Bungs- stopper, cork
Joggling- hauling, drawing
Cruets- narrow mouth jar
Fuzz- fluff, fine fur
Trilling- shrill noise, piercing cry
Vale- valley, lowland
Casuistry- fallacious reasoning, misconception
Mephitic- stinking, putrid
Cruciform- symbol, crucifix
Staves- post, pole
Pewter- metal, alloy
Satyr- monster, demon
Fatuous- dim-witted, dense
Syncopated- abbreviate, condense
Imprecation- curse, expletive
Purblind- myopic
Cerements- shroud, covering
Plangent- resounding, reverberating
Timorous- fearful, frightened
Littoral- shore, beach
Expatiation- discuss, dissert
Addled- incoherent, muddled
Inamorato- lover, admirer
Putative- commonly accepted


And the following are the words that my pocket dictionary and MS WORD 97 have given up on. Am too lazy to get online and search. See if you can help.

Bosky
Velutinous
Troth
Louche
Djellabas
Chalets
Ziggurat
Civet
Bulrushes
Cicatrice
Deckle
Ichor
Maja
Tableaux
Maenads
Bole
Faun
Rufous
Rosacea
Erythema
Sebaceous
Infelicity
Cracaleured
Canthus
Cuttlefish
Shaly
Groynes
Cinereal
Horrent
Caboodle
Woodwinds
Fortissimo
Prelapsarian
Anaglypta
Gorse
Quiffed
Immanence
Cretonne
Ovine
Raddled
Hydrocephalic
Mandala
Puces
Prolapsed
Frontispiece
Catafalque
Crepitant
Rhinophyma
Narcolept
Boreens
Rashers
Anchovies
Hydrangea
Semolina
Stodge
S`eance
Daguerreotype
Chintz
Aspidistra
Lino
Jeroboam
Eponymous
Wattles
Bombazine
Plosive
Caducous
Brioche
Tussocked
Bevelled
Convolvulus
Pharaonic
Triptych
Scumbling
Umber
Varicose
Marram
Knobkerrie
Assegais
Porpoise
Publican
Presagement
Shingle
Anabasis
Crapulent
Apercus
Vulgate
Aneurysm


The book itself, of course, reads like a dream (though I hope the author didn’t dream up some of the words). Sample this:

"When I peered wishfully through the mists from the all too real then to the blissfully imagined now, this is, as I have said, exactly how I would have foreseen my future self, a man of leisurely interests and scant ambition sitting in a room just like this one, in my sea-captain’s chair, leaning at my little table, in just this season, the year declining towards its end in clement weather, the leaves scampering, the brightness imperceptibly fading from the days and the street lamps coming on only a fraction earlier each evening. Yes, this is what I thought adulthood would be, a kind of long Indian summer, a state of tranquility, of calm incuriousness, with nothing left, of the barely bearable raw immediacy of childhood, all the things solved that had puzzled me when I was small, all mysteries settled, all questions answered, and the moments dripping away, unnoticed almost, drip by drip, towards the final, almost unnoticed quietus."

The book is dark and melancholic for the most part but Banville does throw up his sharp wit now and then, which jumps up and bites you and leaves you laughing aloud. Like this one:

"When she tottered to her feet the wicker chair cried out in excruciated relief. She really is of a prodigious bulk. I thought if her belt buckle were to fail and the belt snap her trunk would flop into a perfectly spherical shape with her head on top like a large cherry on a, well, on a bun."

Ok, that’s it, Amartya Sen’s ‘The Argumentative Indian’, here I come!

2 comments:

ps said...

omg what is tht. I'd never even touch a book like tht...let alone read it and take notes of hi-fi words.

dazedandconfused said...

:)