anghara (anghara) wrote,

Last year's calendar

Himself gave me a desk calendar entitled "Forgotten English" for 2005, with the conceit that every day propounds thoroughly useless but entertaining words that have either gone out of vogue in contemporary English or were never IN contemporary English of any sort, being colloquialisms found in linguistic pockets only and unknown in the outside world. Yesterday's word, for instance, was "quignogs" which means, according to its definition and I quote, "Ridiculous notions or conceits, as in 'You're full of quignogs.' Ancient language and the dialect of Cornwall". I confess I like the idea of a quignog. It sounds like one of those forgotten old brownie-type fairies, the kind that you leave cookies and milk out for at night and find domestic tasks done for you in return when you get up in the morning. I've even got a visual on it, and I'd share if I could draw - but I can't, so I won't *grin*. Imagine your own quignogs, thank you very much.

Often the words are accompanied by short paragraphs on other things - birthdays or death dates of various people like Noah Webster or Samuel Johnson or Pepys, dates of publication of various essential ancient "bookes", weird and wonderful eclectic and eccleistiastical feast days for forgotten saints, and stuff like that. A word that turns up in the calendar is "tachydidaxy". which apparently means "a short method of teaching" - and this is accompanied by a short comment by someone called Roger Ascham (1515 - 1568), an English scholar and writer who was apparently once known as the "father of ENglish prose", who derides the virtue of experience as a teaching tool. "AN unhappy master is he that is only made wise by many shipwrecks," quoth master Ascham. "Learning teacheth more in one year than experience in twenty." So there, writers - write what you know just became easier. You don't have to PHYSICALLY know it. Research apparently DOES do the trick.

But what got me giggling is the tail end of that particular little squib on Master Ascham, who apparently visited what the calendar-makers describe as a wicked but unnamed Italian town - the full quote is this: "I was once in Italie myselfe, but I thanke God that my abode there was but for nine dayes; and yet I saw in that little time in one citie more libertie to sinne than ever I heard tell of in our noble citie of London in nine yeare."

That one was for you Anna FDD. You think you might be missing out on something...? *grin*

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