Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Vocabulary Lesson

Now I am of the general belief that I have a pretty good vocabulary especially when it comes to reading. I seldom come across words I have not seen before. This, however, does not mean I can remember the meaning of every word I read. There are some words that no matter how many times I see them I can't remember their meaning. Sanguine, for instance. I always think it describes a sad or sallow person when it is quite the opposite. The sound of the word does not fit its meaning and it throws me every time. Where am I going with this? I learned not one, but two new words the other night while reading Queen Loana. The first word is pylorus. Here's how Eco uses it: "They would feel something they'd never felt before, and they wouldn't be able to say what it was. As if someone were to come here from the fourth dimension and touch us from the inside--say on the pylorus--gently. What does it feel like when someone tickles your pylorus?" Indeed, what would it feel like? First I had to find out what my pylorus was before I could imagine what having it tickled would feel like. To the dictionary I went. and found that the pylorus is the opening from the stomach into the intestine. If you are curious as to what a pylorus looks like, you can see some pictures here. It looks sort of like a glazed donut. The other word that I did not know was quiff. As in

"My name is Yambo, the boy with the quiff. And you've been Yambo ever since." "The quiff?" "You must have had a cute little quiff."
The word sounds vaguely dirty and I was afraid to imagine what Yambo's "cute little quiff" was, let alone looked like. To the dictionary again to find that it is a tuft of forelock hair or a promiscuous woman. I believe in Yambo's case the forelock hair is the correct choice of meaning. So now I have added two new words to my vocabulary. The challenge is to work them into an every day casual conversation. I'll have to try something like, "oh what a cute quiff you have today!" or "so how is your pylorus feeling after that huge lunch you ate?" My coworkers already think I'm strange so why not add fuel to the fire?