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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brave New Words

"Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction," edited by Jeff Prucher, Introduction by Gene Wolfe. Oxford University Press 2007. It arrived today!

Yes, the first thing I did was to look for my name. There it is, among a couple of hundred science fiction writers, critics, fans, and word obsessed nobodies.

How I enjoyed taking part in this open project. I bought a couple of hundred science fiction paperbacks and magazines from thrift stores over the course of two years. I sent in citations for terms that were sought and also sent in suggestions for terms to research. One of my suggestions was "disaster novel," which I found in J.J. Pierce, "Great Themes of Science Fiction 143," from the San Diego Library. Jeff was dubious about posting it, but soon had cites from several more sources.

My contribution to "post-apocalypse," and several other cites, came from B.Searles et al., "Readers' Guide to Science Fiction," 1979, which I found as a battered, brown-paged old paperback for 35 cents at a favorite thrift shop. Ah the thrill of the chase, ah the joy of an intellectual pursuit that cost mostly time, not a lot of money.

Sending and discussing cites involved e-conversation with Jeff Prucher and Malcolm Farmer, two bright, enthusiastic lexiphiles.

I started in the love of words, and their etymologies, as a small child. I received the greatest impetus at Cathedral High, or Archbishop Hughes Memorial High School. In 1955-1958, Jeannette Doronzo, Veronica Mezey, Rosa Lopez and I competed with city-wide teams in contests of Latin translation, and also in contests on the Latin basis of many words in English. We had an inspiring, exacting coach, a Dominican nun whose name I can't believe I could ever have forgotten. Our school was mostly run by Sisters of Charity.

I love words for themselves, for communication, for helping to express emotion and meaning, even though we can only approximate such things. I also love their histories, and the changes thay have gone through. When I studied preaching, I loved heuristics, the study of interpretation, especially following histories of how certain bible passages were interpreted differently at different times in the same cultures, and how other cultures interpreted them at the same times. I barely scratched the surface.

Recommendation: Find a copy of "The Women's Bible," edited by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and read Genesis.

Oh, frabjous day, Calloo, Callay,
"Brave New Words," has won the day.

1 comment:

philipkadish said...

Hooray! That is so exciting!

Mom, you passed on your love of words to me from the very beginning. We played boggle and scrabble, we used to flkip throughg the dictionary together to find new words, and we read The Phantom Tollboooth together many times.

I can't wait to see the book!