Aug 3, 2008

Of kankedorts and hypergelasts

"There’s hypergelast (a person who won’t stop laughing), lant (to add urine to ale to give it more kick), obmutescence (willful speechlessness) and ploiter (to work to little purpose) — all good words to have on the tip of your tongue when, for example, you’re stopped for speeding... Acnestis — the part of an animal’s back that the animal can’t reach to scratch. And bespawl — to splatter with saliva. In Chapter D, Shea encounters deipnophobia, the fear of dinner parties; Chapter K brings kankedort, an awkward situation."
Nicholson Baker, reviewing Reading the OED by Ammon Shea in the NYT. Am I alone in finding Baker's newly-white beard fantastic — not quite of this world? It's not just the kind of beard you would find on Santa Claus or the Forefathers, but the kind of beard you would find on Santa Claus as imagined by coca-cola, or the Forefathers as imagineered by Disney. Maybe that's why it's so deeply comforting.

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