Tuesday, May 12, 2015

That Damn Eyre (Words of the Moment IX)

I made it through years of public school followed by years of college and university work without ever having been assigned or read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Not that this is any sort of anomaly, but apparently it is slightly unusual, especially considering my major and especially considering many of the classes I took, i.e., classics English literature, Victorian literature, Old and Middle English literature, etc.

But once I got older, questions and references would come up from time to time in which the speaker or author assumed I had read Charlotte's signature novel. In fact, it reached a point where I knew the novel so well that I didn't see a need to read it.

Then one day at lunch a few years ago, inspiration hit and I wrote a poem about being pursued by Jane Eyre and the ongoing efforts to avoid her. It contained a few cuss words, a few inappropriate references, but it was all done in fun. I read it at a few poetry readings where it was well received, I polished it a little, and eventually had it published. During that time I broke down, gave in, and actually tried to read the novel - twice. Both times I made it about halfway through, lost interest, and abandoned it.

So last week, I'm looking up other words in the dictionary and browsing through other pages when my eye caught the word eyre. Yes, eyre. It's an actual word. A noun, no less.
    • eyre - A journey in circuit of certain itinerant judges called justices in eyre (or in itinere).
The word is now obsolete, but...it was used primarily in England until the 20th century. Which makes me curious about where Bronte got the idea to name her title character. Is there some sort of symbolic joke here? Maybe a reference in the text I haven't encountered? Was it in common use at the time? Or had its eventual decline from the language begun at that point? If so, did the average reader still "get" it?

You know what that means, don't you? Yep, more homework, but more importantly, it'll soon be time for me to make a third attempt, maybe this time read a little more attentively.

Looks like Jane may win this battle yet.

Until Next Time...
Eyrely Yours,

Monday, May 4, 2015

Words of the Moment VIII

Cheesy Readers, you may remember my last "Words" post where I pointed out that George R.R. Martin had fallen inexplicately in love with the word "worth" and used it every few pages in the fifth book of his Song of Ice and Fire series when in the previous four books I couldn't recall a single use of it. Well, he's at it again, this time with the word nonce.

A brand new word to me, and one I know he didn't use until these last one hundred pages of A Dance of Dragons, because the first time I stumbled across it I thought it was a typo. Like the word "worth" he's used it multiple time now all within a few pages of each other like he's suddenly being paid per use. Its meaning was easy to derive from the context, but because I'm a word geek, I had to look it up anyway.
nonce - for the time being, for the immediate time
For the morbidly curious out there, it is derived from the Middle English phrase "for the nones" before it was shortened to "nonse," and then eventually becoming "nonce" in more modern forms. There are also references that it also derived from a similar phrase "then anes" and "to then anes for the one purpose." You might also find it used as nonce word, which means a word that is coined for a one time purpose or occasion.

Our second word for this post is moue. I'm not sure where I encountered, but it was pretty obvious from the second I ran across it, it was of French origin.
moue - pouting grimace
It's pronounced just like that universal cow vocalization "moo." The funny thing about this word is its plural, moues, which is pronounced the same was as the singular form "moo."

So there you go. Further proof that you can expand your vocabulary through popular genre fiction.

Until Next Time...
Moue Mouesly Yours,