Minding Some "P's"
Still More "P's"
Lord of the Flies I
Lord of the Flies II
Caponiere to Yapp
Some "F" Words I
Some "F" Words II
What the "H" I
H Words VII
H Words VIII
H Words IX
H Words X
Sublime To.. II
Saturday Words I
Saturday Words II
Saturday Words III
2009 Kids Bee I
2009 Kids Bee II
2009 Kids Bee III
2009 Kids Bee IV
Lost In A World of Words I
Bill Long 12/9/08
With No Way To Escape...Which Is Very Good
I am leaving some "H"-words hanging, so to speak, for a moment so that I can clean up those that I have been busy collecting for a while. I am still reeling from the essay on thylacine that I wrote, and I need to start with a word from that essay. Actually, I wanted only to focus on one of the orders of Metatheria, and that is Peramelemorphia. The latter word, literally meaning "the form of a pouched badger," is the present-day name for order containing the bandicoots. As this essay says, the situation with bandicoot classification used to be easy. "In recent years, however, it has become clear that the situation is more complex.." Well, we can enjoy this furry little Australian creatures whether or not we know all the differences among them. Here are some images. Here is a page by a bandicoot-lover, with a great picture of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot. All becauase we wanted to pause on Peramelemorphia.
2. But stopping on the "pera's" made me root around in the "peri's" for a moment, and I discovered periegesis and perieleisis. I actually knew periegesis because I had previously run into the work entitled Periegesis Hellados (Description or "Trip Around" Greece) by the 2nd cent. CE Greek writer Pausanias about 30 years ago. He has provided us a 10-book, multi-volume description of Greece, beginning with Attica, and focusing especially on classical or historical sites. I wasn't encourged to study Pausanias in graduate school; indeed, the prejudice agains Pausanias of the great 19th-early 20th century German philologist Wilamowitz, whom my doctoral professor revered, was enough to relegate him to the dustbin of ancient writing. Here is a review of a modern (2005) book on Pausanias. I am a bit sad that now, 30 years later, I still haven't touched him. But the word periegesis has come into English as a "traveling through" anything. "In his periegesis, or triumphant progress throughoug this island, it has been calculated that he laid a tythe part of the inhabitants under contribution." I like its appearance in the 1902 Cambridge Modern History: His [sc. Francis Bacon's] own vast survey of knowledge..he modestly described as a coasting voyage or periegesis of the 'New Intellectual World.'" Thus, anytime I take a trip in the future, geographical or intellectual, I think I will begin to refer to it as my periegesis.
3. The word perielesis is in the neighborhood, and I had to pause to learn about this musical term. Having just heard a concern of "Anonymous 4" at Willamette University last week (though one of the Anonymous singers was absent, thus disenabling them from doing their program really well), and having learned something about "shape-song" singing in 19th century America, I was ready for more musical learning. Perielesis means "rolling around" or "whirling around" and refers to a "long ligature or series of notes sung to one syllable, usually towards the end of a phrase or melody." Perielesis appears in Plainsong of the Middle Ages. Charles William Pearce's 1887 "Treatment of Ancient Ecclesiastical Melodies in Modern Instrumental Composition" tells us more.
"It may be asked--'How does a plain-song hymn melody differ rhythmically from a modern hymn tune?' Chiefly in this respect, that whereas the modern hymn tune provides either one whole note or, at the most, two half notes for each syllable of the words, the plain-song melody has often many whole notes, which may again be as frequently interspersed with shorter notes, all sung to but one long syllable of the words. Such a group of notes was known as Ligature or Perielesis, and generally made its appearance in the tune coincidently with the penultimate or anti-penultimate syllable of any line of the poetry in a manner somewhat suggestive of the cadenza in a modern instrumental concerto," p. 68.
If this kind of ligature is sung at the very end of the plain-song melody to a more or less indefinite vowel sound disconnected entirely form the verbal text, such an irregular group of notes was known as a Pneuma. Nice to know there are words for things, isn't it?
4. Peridium. I don't remember what took me here, but I think it was just looking "up the page" from the previous two words. The word is scientific Latin, derived from the Greek peridion, a small leather bag, and it means "the membrane or wall enclosing a sporangium or other fruiting body of a fungus." Here is a simple picture of a peridium that has been a bit disrupted. Once you get into the wonderful world of fungi, your vocabulary begins to grow by leaps and bounds...
5. Let's finish this essay with a rare rhetorical term from antiquity: periergia. Quintilian describes it as an excessively elaborate rhetorical style. The Greek word underlying it, periergos, means "superfluous, excessively elaborate." Thus it is bombastic or labored language to describe something. From 1550: "Periergia. Sedulitas superflua, when ther is in speakyng to much dilligence and curiositye, and the sentence overladen with superfluous wordes.." By the way, sedulity is "painstaking attention to duty, diligent application, industry." We normally think of someone who is sedulous as seriously committed to their work. But a superflua or extra sedulity would be what is in view. Puttenham, in his 1589 Arte of English Poesie, said: "Therefore the Greekes call it Periergia, we call it over-labor, lumpe with the orignall: or rather [the curious] for his overmuch curiositie and studie to shew himself fine in a light matter." Puttenham tries to distinguish periergia from simple superfluity of words. He says:
"Another point of surplusage lieth not so much in superfluitie of words--as of your travaile to describe the matter which yee take in hand, and that ye over-labour your self in your businesse. And therefore the Greeks call it Periergia, we call it over-labour."
Yet, the definition of periergy is "a labored or bombastic style." So, seemingly anything long-winded, labored, bombastic is periergy. I will remember that for future use.
Well, let's continue the wandering, in the next essay.