Monday, October 6, 2008


It all began with ( one dictionary's plan to drop twenty-four obscure words from its definition of English.

Then, a friend with way too much time on his hands sympathized with these rare and endangered words, and took up their cause. I read his protest through one of Stanford's myriad mailing lists. It made my day.
As a staunch defender of all things prolix, I take exception to this list. Who doesn't need to indicate the condition of being a woman? I certainly do.

Indeed, it falls to students like us to negate the caducity of such words, to avoid that niddering and olid condition of the vocab naysayer. Why exuviate these treasures, when their fubsy substitutes can only embrangle our youth, and lead them to agrestic, willful ignorance?

No, I say we here commit to abstergent diction; eschew the caliginosity these fatidical rejections cast. Our linguistic librettos are our last periapts, our recourses against the oppugnant, the griseous malisons of the close-minded. When we write, when we speak, we must cast our votes for intelligibility and intelligence -- use these words so that their skirr in our pinnas is the roborant we are after.

So vote. Vote with your mouth. Vilipend these backward redacters with their own recrement. Now is not the hour for the mansuetude of muliebrity! Now is hour of nitid vaticination! To speak well, to honor our heritage in full -- this is not the impossible -- it is the compossible.

What else can I say? I've been nothing if not apodeictic.

Rob Ryan
Apparently, obscure words are like outermost planets. Nobody gives them a second thought -- until some committee decides that we don't need them anymore, at which point certain people take offense. Pluto was always a planet! Compossible was always a word! To the Don Quixotes of our world, they always will be.

I care, too, but in a much more worldly way. How could I pass up a chance for twenty-four Google keywords, however obscure, that are pretty much unique to me and Time?!