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03 August 2008

OD'ing on OED

THIS WEEK, Mr. Nicholson Baker of the New York Times reviewed “Reading the OED,” Amon Shea's account of his one-year attempt to read all 20 volumes and 59 million consecutive words of the Oxford English Dictionary. Mr. Baker gives Mr. Shea the full thumbs-up for this feat. Oh, the things writers do for their craft.

In his review, Mr. Baker uses words that Mr. Shea discovered in OED. Because I'm generous and deeply concerned with the decline of civilized conversations in this SMS-infused generation, I must share some of these words with you.

1. The acnestis is the part of an animal’s back which is unreachable for the animal to scratch. Proper usage: “I scratch your acnestis, you scratch mine.”

2. To bespawl is to splatter with saliva. In the Philippines, we call this social phenomenon “talsik-laway,” which is one of those Tagalog words that are ever so hard to translate to English . . . until now.

3. To have deipnophobia is to fear dinner parties. Fantastic alibi for staying home and staying sane.

4. A hypergelast is a person who won’t stop laughing. Now you know what to call that cousin of yours everytime she sees you with a new hairstyle.

5. To lant is to add urine to ale to boost its taste. Are you now bespawling after realizing that you tried the exotic-sounding “lanted beer” at the bar last Friday? Ha!

6. A kankedort refers to an awkward situation. Generally occurs when your boss' wife (whom you barely know and meet for the first time) asks you about the problems of Turkey and Grease, and your reply reflects your ability to cook greaseless turkey. Having said that, I can write a thick book on all the kankedorts I've experienced. In fact, I just realized how kankedorty I actually am.

7. Obmutescence is speechlessness done willfully. Proper usage: “It's best to be obmutescent when standing or seated next to the new company president.”

8. Petrichor is that familiar loamy smell rising from the ground after a rain. What you smell after Kolkata's rains is not petrichor: it's a rickshaw driver soaked in the floods.

9. To ploiter is to work with little purpose. Proper usage: “I am ploitering because next month, my filthy rich wife will die mysteriously I shall retire.”

10. And finally, something repertitious is something found by accident. Like these words I found in the Net.

There. With these words, I hope I've helped you become less obmutescent in deipnophobic kankedorts. I'll grab and absorb the book, and I'll share its vocabulary with you.

By book I mean Mr. Shea's opus. Not the OED, you bespawling fool.

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