Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Flocculation and other linguistic adornments

In a sly piece of PR, a dictionary has announced that it plans to cut a number of obscure yet often delightful words from its next edition – unless these words can make it into regular public use. This offer is made in partnership with a newspaper owned by a conglomerate that also owns the dictionary in question.

I’m not going to name the dictionary, the paper or the parent company, because I don’t approve of PR stunts, even when I actually quite like them (you can find out here).

The words include agrestic (rural; rustic; unpolished; uncouth), apodeictic (unquestionably true by virtue of demonstration), embrangle (to confuse or entangle), fubsy (short and stout; squat), griseous (streaked or mixed with grey) and niddering (cowardly). Lovely.

(Whoever decided ‘agrestic’ was up for the chop had clearly never seen an episode of the rather enjoyable TV series Weeds, set in the fictional LA suburb of that name. It’s a bit like Desperate Housewives, only good.)

I stumbled across another corker of a word yesterday: flocculant (a substance added to a suspension to enhance aggregation of the suspended particles). It’s something that makes the particles flock together (the associated verb is flocculate). As a scientific term, it’s of little everyday use, but you could easily adapt it to cover anything that makes people or things come together.

David Cameron would like to be a flocculant for Britain’s Broken Society; Fabio Capello needs to flocculate England’s underperforming football superstars; and so on.


Liam Murray said...

Not quite all of them in a sentence but in a short paragraph or two instead:

"...Gordon Brown's niddering approach to election speculation last autumn is considered my many to have been the start of his poor public ratings. As Budget day rolled round Ministers began to embrangle each other over increasingly tortured defence for the 10p tax change and this was all compounded by terrible local election results in May and the London Mayoralty falling to the agrestic but popular Boris Johnson.

Although the economic outlook had been rather griseous for sometime things worsened dramatically last week leaving Gordon Brown needing a barnstorming speech & response this afternoon to rescue his leadership. While it's far from apodiectic that Cameron will be in No.10 in a couple of years that remains where the smart money is - if Cameron can hold out until then presenting only his rather fubsy and vague policy platform then power will almost certainly be his"

Sorry - couldn't help it. And I hadn't heard of any of them before but that probably shows....

Tom Freeman said...

Nice. And they wre all new to me too.

Witkin said...

'Fossicking' is my recent favorite. To search for something, possibly of value...

Anonymous said...

Sounds esquivalient to me ;-)

nickysam said...

Flocculants are used in water treatment processes to improve the sedimentation or filterability of small particles.Many flocculants are multivalent cations such as aluminium, iron, calcium or magnesium. These positively charged molecules interact with negatively charged particles and molecules to reduce the barriers to aggregation.

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