Sunday, February 7, 2010


I just couldn’t help it. After the last two blogs entitled “Dadgummit BLAH!” and “Verschleppen,” respectively, the word just popped into my head so I thought, why not have a trifecta of non-English (nonsensical?) titles? I might have titled the next one “Trifecta,” as my Microsoft Word dictionary doesn’t recognize the word. Thank goodness for Webster’s online!

Maybe the word popped to mind because my husband is watching the Superbowl and Brett Fahrvergnügen isn’t in it. (D’oh!) I wonder if Brett would consider changing his name if Volkswagon offered him enough money.

I suffer semi-regularly from what I term “word attacks.” Actually, I think the phrase was coined by Tonia Faenza when we were kids. It’s a condition in which a word which you’ve heard before but can’t remember where pops into your head and absolutely DEMANDS to be defined, by any means necessary. Most memorable to me was the time when I was in high school going somewhere with my mom in the VW Vanagon (fahrvergnügen!) and suddenly felt compelled to ask: “What’s a colloquialism?” My mother, having a rather expansive vocabulary, was able to define it on the spot and I have never forgotten what it means.

The condition is genetic (it is not, as I have just learned, “congenital”—I love Webster’s online!). Just the other day, Gavin turned to me and asked, “Mama, what does ‘maximize’ mean?” I was so proud!

I suppose it’s just one more sign of my boundless nerdliness (a word I just made up: poetic license, you know) that I so dearly enjoy words, word games, obscure words, plays on words, and on-line dictionary websites. At the cabin, my family would play “The Dictionary Game,” which was later released as an actual board game called “Balderdash,” I believe. But all you need is a dictionary and pens and paper for each player. The person with the dictionary finds a word that no one in the room has heard before. Then the dictionary-holder writes the real definition on his or her paper (paraphrased a bit to sound slightly less scholarly) and everyone else makes up a fake definition (and makes it sound as scholarly as possible). The dictionary-holder then collects and reads out all the definitions and the rest of the group has to guess which is correct. Points are scored for guessing the correct definition and for fooling someone else into choosing your made-up definition.

So is it any wonder that I loved Volkswagon’s Fahrvergnügen ad campaign? Or the bumper sticker which appeared soon afterwards that said “Fukengrüven”? (see “Dadgummit BLAH!” for discussion of my predilection for profanity.) Or that I can appropriately define and use the word “nonplussed” when so people regularly misuse it thinking it means the opposite of what it actually means? Or that “exacerbate” has enjoyed frequent use in my discourse since reading Food First by Frances Moore Lappe and Joseph Collins in 1989 (it seemed to appear on at least every other page.)

I will now cease and desist this pointless perseveration (also not recognized by my MS Word dictionary!) in favor of repose before I get accused of somnambulism. G’night.

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