There's no excuse to be lost for words
It is always nice to come across new words and last week I discovered a tiny treasure trove of fancy locution thanks to the Grandiloquent website which specialises in flowery, but genuine language. Grandiloquent means a "pompous or extravagant style of language" and there is plenty of that about.
One grandiloquent word that immediately caught my eye was the splendid "quockerwodger" which sounds like a weird creature you might come across in Alice in Wonderland. Its original meaning is that of an old wooden toy puppet whose limbs jerk wildly when you pull the string. However a more popular interpretation of the word concerns politicians whose strings are pulled by someone else, snd there are plenty of those about. I eagerly await a Bangkok Post headline announcing, "Crackdown on quockerwodgers".
Quite a few of these words could apply to politicians and their ilk. There's "fanfaronade", meaning arrogant or boastful talk, while many politicians are known to "bloviate", a wonderful word for speaking in a pompous way. But perhaps the most appropriate is "ultracrepidarian" meaning a person talking about something they know absolutely nothing about. That feels a bit close to home.
Another grandiloquent word with potential is "sardoodledom", a reference to a drama with an overwritten and melodramatic plot. We are in a privileged position of being able to witness "sardoodledom" any evening by switching on a Thai television soap opera.
Finally an important word for dog owners. When your hound stares at you longingly with those big sad eyes when you are eating, that's a "groak". I admit to succumbing to the "groak" every time.
One grandiloquent word that particularly caught my eye was "scurryfunge", the act of hastily tidying up the house when you have visitors coming. We've probably all done that at some time. My mother was definitely a scurryfunger and I was often appointed to the important role of "assistant scurryfunger".
Some of the words I can particularly relate to, including "fudgel", a person pretending to be working hard when in fact not doing anything. From personal experience, that actually takes quite a bit of skill. Another is "dysenia", the inability to get out of bed in the morning.
A few of the words have a definite Dickensian flavour. "Podsnappery", meaning someone who is over complacent, feels like something the great author would come up with. Then there is "puzzumous" meaning disgustingly servile or obsequious behaviour, bringing to mind a certain " 'umble servant" Uriah Heep. It could also be a very useful word in Scrabble.
Possibly the least attractive word I came across and also the hardest to pronounce is "schmutzwortsuche" which is apparently a propensity for looking up naughty words in the dictionary. Heaven forbid.
For people still not satisfied with the huge choice of words the English language has to offer, do not fret, you can always make up your own words. Someone quite accomplished at this was the late English comedian Ken Dodd. He had a vocabulary of his own based on "diddy", meaning something small and loveable. Other Doddisms include ''plumtiousness" a combination of plump and sumptuous and "tattyfalarious" which can mean anything you want it to be.
When he was awarded the OBE in 1981, the Liverpool Echo reported Dodd's unique response: "I am delighted. I am full of plumtiousness. The jam butty workers are discomknockerated and the Diddymen are diddy-delighted."
That's English as it should be spoken.
Bear with me
Having been startled by a squirrel running across my balcony the other day, I was very impressed by the Californian teenager who bravely took on an entirely different creature, a large bear, pushing it off her garden fence when it was threatening her dogs.
Most readers have probably seen the clips of Hailey Morinico displaying great courage as she rescued her pet dogs from a potentially grisly fate. She really took her life into her hands by grappling with the bear -- it could have turned out so differently. The best part was that the bear and her two cubs, the four dogs and Hailey were unhurt in the incident. A rare feel-good story.
Nothing but the tooth
Something not widely known is that we have wild bears in Thailand as a local mushroom picker discovered five years ago in an Ubon Ratchathani national park.
He was foraging for wild mushrooms, which can be a particularly hazardous occupation in Thailand, when an Asian black bear "as big as a buffalo" fell out of a tree above him. The angry bear proceeded to chase the mushroom man, leaving a big tooth in his backside. Park officials later said the beast had become intoxicated by eating mahua tree flowers used for making alcohol.
Sadly, most bears we see these days are in zoos. But sometimes you wonder who should be in the cages, the animals or the people looking at them.
A few years ago in London Zoo a silly gentleman leapt into the bear pit, pulled down his trousers and invited two giant Russian bears, Rusty and Tumble, to dance with him. Not surprisingly the bears were bewildered by this exhibitionist, but luckily for him they decided not to have him for supper, and simply ignored him. An irate zookeeper commented: "Rusty and Tumble were disgusted. They've got no time for flashers."
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Bangkok Post columnist
A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.
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