Posts tagged ‘Twelve Thousand Words’

November 23rd, 2012



A is for aardvark, anathema, absinthe, assuage and now, as Karen Jeynes continues our Twelve Thousand Word tour, abracadabra.

What’s the magic word? No, not please, abracadabra. Abracadabra doesn’t really mean anything, being an interjection used to indicate magic is being done. It’s the verbal equivalent of sleight of hand, a trick which causes people to concentrate on what the magician chooses, rather than on what he’s actually getting up to. And it has a ritualistic quality. It’s traditional! Many magicians who choose other words, trying to be “unique”, find their audiences disappointed.

November 9th, 2012




Another of our Twelve Thousand Words, by Karen Jeynes

I decided I’d take on the challenge of a verb for this installment of Twelve Thousand Words, because verbs are amazing too – in fact these days, all the nouns are trying to be verbs. Verbs are the new black.

November 2nd, 2012



The third of our Twelve Thousand Words, by Karen Jeynes

A legendary highly intoxicating beverage, made primarily from the flowers and leaves of artemisia absinthium, or green wormwood. The height of its popularity came in late 19th century Paris, where it was the bohemians rapturously embraced it. Conservative types were horrified by it, and by 1915 it was banned in the US and much of Europe. Perhaps some of its negative effects were due to cheapskate producers using copper to add the greenish tint. These days absinthe is freely available, and you can even buy DIY absinthe kits.

The Green Fairy, portrayed above by the diminuitive diva Kylie Minogue in Moulin Rouge, is a nickname for absinthe, because, well, because. When creatives imbibed absinthe, she would appear and guide them in the creation of  inspired work. Sort of a fluttering headache inducing multitasking mini muse.

Absinthe is also a sexy burlesque circus show in Vegas, and a software for jailbreaking phones that “relies on vulnerabilites in the Racoon daemon”. Which doesn’t sound terrifying at all.

In case you missed them – A is also for AARDVARK and ANATHEMA.

October 26th, 2012



Continuing our Twelve Thousand Words celebration, by Karen Jeynes.

Coming in at number ten on your favourite words list, this is a delightfully specific word, meaning one that is cursed by a religious authority, from the original Greek “a thing accursed” – in this sense it is equivalent to haraam. Anathemata are gifts offered to God. Anathema has acquired the additional meaning of someone or something intensely hated or loathed. Thus there are those who might say that raisins are anathema to them. The Islamic faith might say Salman Rushdie is anathema to it.

October 19th, 2012



The first of our Twelve Thousand Words

Where else could we begin but with this remarkably cute Double A? The
aardvark (Orycteropus afer) – literally “Earth Pig” (but not in any
way a pig)- is a nocturnal anteater, native to Africa. The collective
noun for aardvarks is an armoury.

And as you can see above, in baby form they look rather like wingless dragons.

Its eternal enemy is the army ant, there was an even a movie made to
commemorate their famous rivalry, entitled (ingeniously) The Ant and
the Aardvark. This includes the memorable line “believe me, it’s no
fun being an aardvark. I’d rather be a banker.” Other famous aardvarks
include Cyril Sneer from the Raccoons, and Arthur. The Egyptian God
Set is also said to be part-aardvark.

We’ll end our ode to aardvark by directing you to Philip Schultz’s
poem “Aardvarks“, which features the also-splendiferous word “jitney”,
and sharing Kenn Nesbitts “The Llama and the Aardvark”

The llama loved the aardvark.
They were married in the spring.
They had a dozen babies
and their babies loved to sing.

So people came from miles around,
and this is what they saw:
twelve little baby llaardvarks
singing llaa llaa llaa llaa llaa.

-Kenn Nesbitt

October 19th, 2012

Twelve Thousand Words

by Karen Jeynes

I think my relationship with unusual words began in Grade 1. On our first day at school we were all given folders with words on pieces of cardboard, a new kind of building block to play and construct with. But as everyone else eagerly began to make their first sentence, I stared at mine in bewilderment. For you see where “the” should have been there was another word. A word I had never seen before, a strange shape which as yet held no meaning. And so I carried the offending word to the teacher, who sweetly explained to me that the word was “because”. And although I returned to my table gratefully clutching “the”, for it is awfully hard to construct a sentence without “the” when you are five years old, I missed that “because”.