Saturday, November 19, 2011

what is there in a name? especially if it is Floccinaucinihilipilification

As a teacher, I kept telling my students that words are neither simple nor difficult ; they are appropriate or inappropriate.

What is there in a name. A rose by anTy other name would smell just as sweet but chrysthamum by any oher name would be a lot easier to spell. But not if that name is Floccinaucinihilipilification, a word that was the cause of much mirth in our student days. The word means the act of deeming and describing something something as completely value-less. Its verb form, flo-ccinau-cini-hil- ipili-ficate " was actually used by some writers but only to make fun of the word. As for its etymology, the term flocci means a wooly tuft , and has a Latin origin. Pili is from 'pilius, meaning 'hair' but figuratively meaning insiginficant. The third part nihil" is more common in English and it means nothing. We see it in words like " annihilate ( to reduce to nothing) or nihilism ( the philisophy of destructrion) or nihilist, one who believes in such destructive philosophy. Fication was a later addition just to increase its linguistic acceptability. The word together means.. " nothing. and of little significance and useless and trifle -- obviously repetitive in concept and expression. So the word is used more in fun than seriously these days. ...Funnily, this is not the longest word in the English language. That "honour" belongs to "pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" (( I am not sure if I got that right. And I am glad that our politicians have not heard of it. Otherwise their speeches would last days rather than hours. And would be many times more incomprehensible. ....And I would certainly not tell my students to even touch these words with a barge-pole. In any case, my students had trouble spelling even a simple word like "together", which they kept writing as " togather", till I told them that the word should be written as " to -- get - her". After that the boys at least never mis-spelt it.

No comments: