Saturday, July 30, 2016

Words from Reading

A lot of my reading in the past year or so has been free or inexpensive Kindle books, mostly mysteries.   I think perhaps I should start listing the ones I particularly like, but I haven't done it up till now.   Partly, I think I need a system.   Some indy books are promising but quirky; others are just not good; others are basically equivalent to an old-style printed and published book, but the authors just chose to go the indy route.

Anyway, recently I found a couple of interesting words in a couple of indy police procedurals.

1.  anorak

I knew an anorak was a kind of jacket.   Originally the word meant a hooded polar type jacket like a parka.  But when I went to a British high school in Switzerland, the kids called any weather-resistant jacket an anorak.

But recently, in British slang, the word can mean something like a nerd or geek.    In the book I read, a character said of another that she liked him though he was "a bit of an anorak."   At first I pictured someone like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club, someone who wears a heavy jacket as a kind of protective barrier during school hours.   But I guess it refers to something more like the way my son AM collects photos of the things people put on the top racks of their SUVs.     You don't need to actually be equipped with an anorak to be a bit of one.

2.  tsundoku

Now here is a word that could be the subheading of my blog.    It's sort of a play on two Japanese words meaning "pile up" and "read".    It basically refers to the habit of bibliophiles of buying books and letting them pile up unread.  Illustration here.   Yep, useful word.

3.   faba

This one is here because 2 words doesn't seem like enough for a list.  It has very specific family context.   My almost 2 year old granddaughter calls little candies "beans".   This  started when I had some starburst jelly beans left over from Easter and would occasionally give her a couple as a treat.    She also has a compact Latin dictionary that she likes to carry around.   Her 13 year old uncle PG took to quizzing the family using the book (when she lets him have it : )).    He quizzed us on "faba" and she seized the book back and said with a magisterial gravity "faba -- BEAN".  

Talking babies are a great addition to any household, especially in adding new richness to common language, and I'm glad my youngest gets the chance to be around one of them.

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