May 6, 2002

flim flam for the claw backs

Wow. Like, wow. USS Clueless ponders the cultural implications of a civilization developing on the moon of a gas giant.

As for me, I spent 2 1/2 hours today reading through the English Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words. It’s two volumes chock full of old English dialects from England. The dictionary was first published in 1889, but some of the words are referenced back as far as 1300. The introduction was quite interesting, as it detailed the quirks and pronunciation tendancies of every regional dialect (Isle of Wight, Westmoreland, Hampshire, etc…) I’ll glean some of the most findest findings for ya’ll.

Chinny mumps: Rude kind of music made by beating chin with knuckles, by the rattling of teeth causing sound in time. So next time you’re sittin’ around at a party and someone starts doin’ that, you know what to call it.

Chokes: The throat. I liked this one cuz it implies an immediate course of action.

Clavy tack: a key. I lost mine clavy tacks last semester. I am still convinced that a cruel woman stole them to do her voodoo majick.

Clatterfert: A tale-teller. If Brian Perez were around he would say “phert”.

Cleaver: This one was a strange childhood game. It’s a length of string tied to a wet piece of leather, which the kid squeezes against a rock with his feet until all air bubbles are forced out. He then pulls on the string, popping the rock (often a flagstone in the road) out of its hole. This is why roads in Duluth suck. Next time you see a kid with a cleaver, beat him.

Claw back: A flatterer. I have lots of these.

Clish clash: Idle discourse. Often takes the form of awkward, forced conversation between a man and woman. We all hate it, and yet we still stand for it.

Flibbergibber: A lying knave.

Flim flam: False, foolish, nonsensical. See Cromlech.

Fog: Another word for moss.

Fossick: A troublesome person. See fossicking.

Fresh-Liquor: Unsalted hog’s fat.

Drunkwort: Tobacco.

Drunkeschipe: Drunkeness.

Drunkard’s Cloak: A barrel that one can wear. Formerly used in Newcastle for the punishment of scolds and drunks.

Duddle: To wrap un warmly and unneccessarily. To cuddle. To make lukewarm. A child’s penis (I assume a male child).

I was trying to read a selection written in Westmoreland, and the spelling was so horrible I could hardly make sense of it. The experience really reminded me that written language is not a natural entity, and everything that has happened thanks to writing depends on a human construction. When someone’s words pluck at the strings of your soul, for how wonderful and transcendental the experience feels, it results from an invention that we created. If humans weren’t here to ascribe meaning to nature, it would be meaningless.

Words are alive and can breathe if you let them. They hold the ideas of the ages, from political agendas to knitting circles to daily life. I can see the people that spoke them. I can see the green fields of Ireland.

So long as my writing survives me, I can never die.