When I was in grade school and wished to win the class spelling contests to get access to the teacher's cabinet to pick a book as a prize, I stupidly made runner up in the overall school contest and wound up with after school spelling bee studies (eww!). Those spelling bee championship books have some sesquipedalion-like words (big words). So I know Janny doesn't use 'big' words, she just uses uncommonly seen ones from today's reading, and in one case I saw her use a word I knew, but with an alternate definition I had never known about before.
Grade school through high school did a good job of expanding my knowledge of words by reading classical literature and forcing us to learn lists/definitions. I did very well on the English part of the ACT exam for getting into college. However, once in college, nobody does lists/definitions anymore and the books I read in the few literature related classes I was forced to take didn't have anything more to add to my vocabulary. So, when I took the GRE for grad school, I saw a definite drop in performance on the english section.
I enjoy most of the words I've had to look up when reading Janny's works. Chiaroscuro and damascened are really cool words that also happen to fit perfectly what Janny is trying to describe. You'd have to use a lot of words to try and state what the single word conveys.
I think my only problem with having these words and a few uncommonly used expressions (warp and weft) running around in the series is I that I notice them every time they get used instead of just passing over them if they had been more common words. Hence, I tend to unfairly think of them as overused.
Thanks Janny for sharing your thoughts, goals and objectives, etc on words that you use in your writing. By the way, I really enloyed TRHC and maybe it was because of your choices of particular words that I found it so enjoyable.
Obviously, to me anyway, your vocabulary is significantly larger than mine as is my wife's, who happens to be a former english, history and media teacher. Often as not, when I come across a word that I do not understand, I ask her. Otherwise I consult a dictionary. One of the problem with the dictionary is that there are usually many, many definitions. So I test each relative to the context and usually am able to select the one you intended. Often times the chice is not so obvious and I feel I've wasted some of my time which is quite frustrating.
Your noted approach would be wonderful if I had your definition for each word with which I have difficulty. Since this isn't possible, I will continue to struggle through. By the way, inclusion of a pronounciation guide is most helpful to me as it helps me to remember the name that is associated with the person, the country, the city, etc. when I can pronounce it the same each time it occurs.
I believe, at one point, I posted a statement here, that any reader who could not find a word meaning in their dictionary, or could not comprehend a word meaning could ASK ME in the chat.
Probably it went the way of the archives, and deserves a repeat mention.
I don't have too much trouble with a lot of the big words, although actinic had me completely stumped. However, words like "stevedore", "caparison", and other words which never really come up in Chicago are fun ones to look up.
Stevedore is an old world for an old job - those guys who used to unload ships manually. These days they drive cranes at wharves to unload massive container ships..
I am usualy able to discern the meaning based upon the context; but based on their repeated usage, I just had to double check these three: fug, tun, and actinic.
No surprises in the definitions -- as I said, from the context, the defitions were somewhat intuitive -- except I still can't figure out why Janny just doesn't use "fog" instead of "fug", which is archaic. Then again, maybe that's why -- because it is archaic.
Andy -- easy - fog means a mist that comes of moisture in the air.
fug means - stale air that is humid, warm, ill smelling that arises in a crowded room.
Both meanings pertain to "air" that is "clouded" but they come from quite different sources.
Fog can smell pleasant - fug, certainly not...
There's no archaic about it - the meanings are not the same.
Although I do not feel the need to defend or justify -- for the sake of fun discussion - why tun and actinic?
There are four words that apply to containers of similar structure:
keg, barrel, cask, and tun. All have different "ranges" of meaning and some are not interchangable.
Keg - is the weenie cousin (5-10 gal capacity)
Barrel - same structure but can by any size, this is the generic - but it can hold anything from nails to liquid to dry goods...
Cask - is larger than keg, and specifically holds liquids - water or alcohol or other liquid. General reference is approx 100 gallon capacity.
Tun - is the whopper cousin. It ONLY holds alcohol - wine or spirits. Its capacity can be up to 350 gal. So, a tun is a more specific term - more than the generic "barrel" and quite different than the keg - and more than the cask.
this term originally applied to a RADIATING quality of light, (and came also to be applied to biology, with regard to radiating structure.) The original meaning came from light -- Actinc rays are, specifically: high intensity, radiating in "structure", and into the short wavelengths - blue-ultraviolate range of the spectrum - AND they also are intense enough to create chemical reaction -
"Radiating blue-violet light powerful enough to create chemical change" is a helluva mouthful.
Actinic's just that elegant, short, sweet and to the point.
Janny -- point taken -- and I didn't mean "archaic" in any perjorative sense of the word. Perhaps obscure or antiquated would have been a better way to describe "fug." As for confusing it with "fog," I now see that in a concrete usage, they are different. (Although the online dic I consulted did indicate that etymologically, "fug" is maybe derived from "fog." You have to admit, to the extent both words relate on some level to the quality or character of air and considering their close spelling and even pronunciation, undoubtedly there is some etymological relation between the two.) Now, I just need to figure out how to work it into a sentence, especially as a verb: "Who fugged the bathroom?"
We should just make a section devoted to words and let Janny post her definitions, they are way better than any dictionary ones I've seen yet and make more sense.
I love fug... great word... bad smell ;)