Friday, January 12, 2007

Logodaedaly: A novel vocabulary

Re-reading Nabokov's Lolita last week I tried to pay more attention to the quips, allusions and wordplay that Humbert Humbert indulges in. The quality of his writing is what tones down the risque contentiousness of the book. I love the gripping opening lines of Lolita:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta."


Nabokov believed every reader should be in possession of a memory, imagination, a dictionary and artistic sense. Have you, dictionary at hand, discovered any great new words during your recent reading? Whilst revelling in the verbal feast that Nabokov offers up, here are some new (to me) words I stumbled across:

Nacreous- resembling nacre; lustrous; pearly.
Ancilla- a female slave.
Undinist- a man aroused by water.
Beatitude- supreme blessedness; exalted happiness.
Logodaedaly- verbal legerdemain; a playing with words; capricious coinage of words.

4 comments:

Bybee said...

I love the opening lines of Lolita as well.

I'm reading Vanity Fair. No new words lately, but some common words that were used differently in the 19th century.

iliana said...

Oh that opening is wonderful. It's been a long time since I've read Lolita and forgot the beauty of the wordplay. I admit I'm a bit of a lazy reader at times. I will jot down words I don't know and try to look them up but not always.

acquisitionist said...

I too tend to be on and off with looking up words. But I made an exception for the case of a Lolita re-read.

jenclair said...

I also note words that authors tend to repeat - recently "eponymous" appeared 3 time in a biography. The author also used "mooted" 3 times and as a verb. I noticed the first one because I love the sound, and the second, because it is most frequently used as a noun (and incorrectly used in almost every case) and rarely used as a verb.