49. Pages 320-340 V
Bill Long 5/27/05
Straight on with the D's
Enough fun. Let's get back to the list of words that I need to know for Cheyenne. Let me begin with several "De" verbs, and then move to nouns and adjectives that may stump us.
Ten Verbs--Oh So Briefly
Debouch is the verb and debouche is the noun. Both of them refer to something "issuing" or "emerging" from something else. It is most at home in military contexts: "He descried the troops as they debouched from the mountain pass." But, as with all "flow" words, it is also at home with rivers or streams. Less forceful than "gush forth," debouch can describe the stream that may debouch from the lake. It particularly stresses something that comes out of a narrower or more confined location.
Debridement, pronounced de bride MAH, has nothing to do with weddings. It is from the French, literally meaning "unbridling," and suggests the removal of damaged tissue from around a wound or abscess. Though the medical meaning is clear, a psychological connotation, where someone skillfully strips away the damaged memories or limitations from the past is a desideratum. Take your two vitamin tablets and use debridement in this way, at least once a day. Doctor's orders.
Decortication is a particularly vivid verb and means "to remove the bark, rind, or husk from." Figuratively the word means to divest of what conceals or to expose. Thus, one might decorticate wheat or an oak tree, or, more interesting for me, a person. Is it possible to decorticate someone without injuring them? We sometimes say that physiognomy (external features) is a window into the soul; but decortication seems to be playing for higher stakes than simply getting a "window" into the soul. As I use the word decorticate I can't get out of my mind the image of the defeated Antony in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, who said that "this pine is bark'd/ That overtopp'd them all." (4.12). Antony decorticate(d).
Moving On--Faster, Faster
Decreptitate means to roast a salt or mineral until it no longer crackles in the fire. Thus, it means "to remove the crackle" from something. The Latin verb crepare, to crinkle or crack, lies behind not only this word but the slew of words associated with decrepit. A decrepit person is, literally, one who no longer "crackles" or "rattles." I suppose a healthy person does so. Interesting view of the person, isn't it? We talk about our bodies "creaking" with age, but from the perspective of word roots, it is just the opposite. From 1688 is a fascinating quotation, from penology, "The Tying Neck and Heels, is a Punishment of decrepiting, that is benumming the Body, by drawing it all together, as it were into a round Ball." You know it is the right time to throw out the Special K when it decrepitates.
I have looked at the verb dehisce for months, and maybe will finally get it right. Derived from the Latin hiscere, meaning to "gape" or "yawn" [the word hiatus also comes from hiscere], something that dehisces "opens" or "splits apart." It is a common term in botany to describe the opening of a pericarp (surface level of the fruit) for the discharge of seeds. "The legume dehisced by both ventral and dorsal sutures." I would love to bring dehisce and its cousins into humanistic conversation because of its beautiful sonority. The word sounds like it should mean "open gradually," and that would be the way I would like to use it. "Open your minds, dehisce the exocarp of the heart, and life will open up to you..." Well, I tried.
Delate is a verb that should be distinguised from delete and dilate. Delate, derived ultimately from the Latin deferro, means to accuse or denounce or, more neutrally, to report or relate. A delator is an informer or accuser. It would take some effort to march through the evolution of meaning of this term (which no one uses today), but the dual meanings of handing over or transferring and accusing are at the root of the term. And, it need not have a legal context. From 1776: "If a minister be thus left at liberty to delate sinners from the pulpit..he may often blast the innocent."
I really love deliquesce, which means "to melt." Whever you say this word, you can almost see a huge block of ice gradually melting in the summer sun. OW Holmes, Sr., the original autocrat of the breakfast table, could write, "Whose whole vocabulary had deliquesced into some half dozen expressions." I used to think that college professors were among the most eloquent people on earth. Then I realized that all they really knew was the vocabulary of their field and a few common multisyllabic words. Their vocabularies likewise had deliquesced into the jargon of the trade. And, I can't help but think of the Wicked Witch of the West when deliquesce and its noun friend deliquescence comes to mind. While she may be saying, after Dorothy has doused her with water, "I'm melting, melting," I bet innocent little Dorothy Gale of Kansas was secretly muttering to herself, "Deliquesce, bitch."
I see that I have run out of space, with still a few verbs to go....and then the nouns and I am still on pages 320-340. Just have to continue.
Copyright © 2004-2007 William R. Long