Saturday, February 09, 2008

new word, voices, hooter

The pleasure of finding a new word for something you didn't know had a word to describe it is a bit like that of being given a name for an as yet unidentified flower or bird, which you see differently as a result. In a French dictionary, I come across apocope, which describes the shortening of words by dropping the last syllables, as in as in labo for laboratoire, expo for exposition, and bachot for baccalauréat. It is quite common in idiomatic French, and I think at first that it is exclusively a French word for a French phenomenon, but when I look I find that it exists in English too, which indeed it should, as in tele for television, psycho for psychotic, and the more settled curio for curiosity. It is spelt in the same way, though pronounced differently.

In the Grove, the rising voices of birds and children say it's warm enough for Spring, and it is.

As we climb Mount Sion on our way home we hear behind us an old fashioned motor car hooter. It sounds like a duck quacking. We turn round to see a man with a hooter -the device has a rubber bulb to squeeze at one end, and a horn at the other. In his other hand is a pint tankard, half full of beer. "Let's all have some fun," he says. "We've got to enjoy life, or what's it for!" And he offers us the hooter to squeeze, which we do, taking it in turns.

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