Thursday 30 December 2021

This One's for Mary.

She had always loved words, sometimes obsessively, and right now she was looking at a very long one.


She was sitting in her grandfather’s chair next to the window; outside the first startled yellow flowers of spring were opening, even though it was still winter. On her lap was the day’s newspaper, an old dictionary and a book of Italian Love Stories written in French. Her cat was asleep on the back of the chair.


The long word was pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolvanoconiosis, which the newspaper (debatably) claimed to be the longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary.


Her dictionary was not an Oxford English, but one she had inherited from her mother. It was old, tired and used. Although there were many words to choose amongst, this was not one of them. Besides, she knew the longest word in English is smiles, being that there is a mile between the first and last letter.


Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolvanoconiosis stretches barely a couple of centimeters at best and even the newspaper admitted that it was often simply referred to in its shorter form, silicosis.


You can’t shorten smiles; try to and all you get is a grimace, which is in no ways the same thing.


This wasn’t the only new word she had encountered today, two others were in the French book and they were not in her mother’s dictionary either. She would have to disturb the cat from her sleep to reach for the bilingual dictionary on the shelf behind.


The cat’s name was Pablita, a young female of surprising markings that recalled to mind words such as leopard, cheetah and pardine. 


The two French words were ‘châtiment’ and ‘befana’.


She didn’t know either of the two words, but then again she hadd never before read a book of Italian Love Stories written in French.


Anyway, one of these words was Italian.





Mary said...

La Befana - the Christmas witch - will arrive the night of January 5, the night/morning of the Epiphany when the proverbial three wise men guided by the Christmas star arrived bearing gifts at the stable in Bethlehem. What the witch and the wise men have to do with each other is unclear. Still, Xmas provides no end of whopping good tales.

A blog featuring a post dedicated to 'words' may seem redundant but is much appreciated by this Logophile.

Wishing all logophiles, story-tellers, romantics and star-gazers a safe and healthy new year!

Mary xo

popps said...

Witches, wise me, all the same, different genders?
HNYtoo :-)