A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Word of the Day: Mussitation

"Mussitation" is uttered by fifteen-year-old "geeky girl" Lace Turner as an example of a "big word" in Jan Karon's A New Song, my current lunchtime reading from the discard shelf at the library.

Mussitation (from the Latin mussitare) is muttering or murmuring. It's a medical term, used to describe the moving of the lips as though talking, with little or no sound issuing, as in delirium.

As opposed to psithurism (from the Greek) which means whispering. Or psittacism (from the Latin psittacu, parrot), which is meaningless, repetitive speech. Or psellism (back to Greek), which is stuttering, stammering, or any defect of enunciation caused by malformation of the vocal chords. Or pleonasm, which is redundant or superfluous speech.

Or battology--tireless repetition. Or gemination (from Latin geminus, twin)--duplication or repetition for rhetorical effect. Or ploce (from the Greek, meaning to plait)--repetition for emphasis.

Or bloggerel--repeating the same opinion ad nauseum in a blog. Or blogerhhea--running on and on in a blog. I'm going to stop now.


Blogger Ben said...

Does mussitation also include when the listener in a conversation absent-mindedly mouths the speaker's words?

7:15 AM  
Blogger Cicily Corbett said...

dammit, ben, i don't know! and i haven't the foggiest how to find out, either. couldn't you just have been dazzled by my erudition and left it at that? i'm quite certain i'll be spending more than one night trying to run this to the ground. happy now?

2:16 AM  

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