Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two New Words

Ah ha!  That is what I sometimes think when I run across a new word, as I quickly scurry for the nearest dictionary to check its meaning.  I don't have to scurry very far as I keep a dictionary in nearly every room in the house.  By new word, it may, in fact, be a word that has been around for a long time, but is one with which I am unfamiliar.  I am an admitted word-geek.  I like to read dictionaries just for the fun of it.  (And  I do realize that some of you are right now going (y....a....w....n....).

Nevertheless, being my own word-geeky self, I had a bit of a banner week this week.  Not one, but TWO new (or new to me) words.  And they were so intriguing that I have thought about them off and on for a few days; and thus, I just really had to share the wealth.  Stay with me here, and who knows, this could one day help you ace one of those Readers' Digest word quizzes.  I am pretty sure that people-who-blog are almost always word-quizzers.  (You know who you are.)

Word one:  Marginalia

Wha-a-at?  Sounds like a rich, buttery topping or a low-tech video word game.  Nope. Marginalia is a term referring to the handwritten notes in the margins of a book.  Who knew?  I have been scribbling marginalia for years and had no idea that I was engaged in such a high-falutin' sounding practice.  But it did not come to me easily.

I did not have many books as a child.  This was partly due to the fact that we moved fairly often, and thus my mother kept extraneous household flotsam and jetsam to a minimum.  Less to pack.  When I was fortunate enough to obtain a new book of my very own, it was always delivered with various admonitions:  Now take good care of that, it's new.  Don't break the spine; you will ruin it.  Careful of what you are drinking. Put down the glass on the counter, and then you can read your book.  You would have thought my book was headed straight for the Smithsonian when we were finished with it, and it needed to be in mint condition lest it be rejected by that hallowed institution. 

The other reason it never occurred to me to write in the margins of books in my youth is that most of my reading material came from the local library.  Whenever we moved to a new town my mother would locate two things as quickly as possible; a new home church, and the library.  In one town where we only stayed four or five months, I read 22 Bobsey Twins books.  Now that was fun!

Now in our household of two, not counting Holly, our dog (but she always counts) we have at least five or six bookcases or books shelves - all full and a few overflowing.  Some books are dog-eared with repeated use, some are stained, and any that I have truly enjoyed contain.....wait for it.....marginalia!

Word Two:  Begrudgery

This one is a noun permutation of the verb "begrudge" - obviously, but the noun form apparently is a colloquialism in Ireland.  Whenever someone has "gotten above themselves" or become newly affluent, those who resent these recently rich folks are said to be indulging in "begrudgery."  Would that we could be half so honest here in the U.S. about our tendency to envy one another.  Talk about trying to keep up with the Joneses, and the Smiths, and the Wilsons, and even the doggoned Browns.  I mean it just never ends.

That very tendency is what led us into the current economic mess we are in, thank you very much.  The neighbors moved to a better neighborhood, well, let's start packing.  A coworker bragged about her new granite counter tops with stainless steel appliances in abundance, and let's get "Fancy Kitchens -R-Us" on the phone.

It was interesting to me that the genesis of the noun "begrudgery" in Ireland involved the very same kind of nonsense we Americans have indulged in much to our collective regret.  I read of one small village in Northern Ireland where not one, but two, developers built 38 new homes, in a town that had fewer than fifty residents.  Yeesh!

So I have determined to engage in a LOT more marginalia - it's free after all, and lots of fun, too.  And I have further pledged to engage in LOTS less begrudgery.  It costs a small fortune, and when the fortune is gone, the creditors come calling.  Not fun.

Hope you have a good day.


  1. Marsha, I have always been a word-geek, too. Used to read the dictionary as far back as the 6th grade. My dad got me started on that. You have me thinking ... I believe I will do a blog post of ... the dictionary.


  2. This was too fun.

    To revel in begrudgery ... ooh ... that is certain to find its way into my own stream of words someday. I love it.

    RE: marginalia - I've gotten to the point where I literally cannot sit down to read a book without a pen in my right hand. I've tried it a few times recently, and it just didn't work. I had to actually get up off the couch - horror of horrors - just to go get a pen!

    I'm a marginalia-addict!

  3. DJ - I can't read w/o a pen or pencil, either. Too many good ideas slip away.

  4. DJ and Warren -

    You two have been such an encouragement to me with your comments. Here I get back after almost 10 days of not posting and find that you have both visited and taken time to comment.
    THANK YOU so much. Have a great day - Marsha Y.