4.0295 Neologisms (1/274)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 17 Jul 90 18:43:49 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0295. Tuesday, 17 Jul 1990.

Date: Mon, 16 Jul 90 19:52:28-020
From: onomata@bengus (nissan ephraim)
Subject: hypersatire (Hebrew, neologizing)

The postings, in Humanist, on hyperfiction (interactive, hypertextual
fiction) and Alan Corre's "recursive fiction" prompted comments about
the exciting perspectives of features of specific kinds of computer
support guiding the content of composition.

Well, I am completing a rather heterogeneous book, mainly social satire,
titled << Midde' Muddi' >> ("Whenever I Measure"). Language is wildly
neologizing but also archaistic Hebrew (formation of hundreds of
neologisms is fully documented in especially playful, but sometimes
scholarly notes (of notes (of notes (...) ) ) , that also introduce
satirical considerations, and are not really secondary).

Another thorough neologizer, Shlonsky, had to limit innovation to avoid
the necessity of including notes (albeit sometimes he had to insert

Hypertextuality allows text parallelism that has something holographic
about it, so the need for explanations is no longer a deterrent. Also,
associations can occur rather freely, as several paths can be followed:
we are not limited to one level of notes. Occasionally,

such paths meet, but basically, their theme is meant to ultimately
strengthen the message of the starting passage in the text. Different
subsections or notes (chunks or text) differ by style and linguistic
stratum. Some are even (mildly) mathematical. Windows (or, on paper,
as the book is: odd pages with notes, the main text being on even pages,
for example, as suitable according to the quantitative ratio) allow,
sometimes, a kind of holographic rounding of the meaning. Or, very
critical passages are cooled down, out of literary economy or of sarcasm,
by recalling innocuous and themes. This way, one sentence that depicts
the yellow of a broken giant egg inundating society, points to an ancient
Talmudic legend about the giant bird Bar Yokhani, one of whose eggs
would have inundated sixty cities and many more villages, and then,
Eastern mythical gigantornithology is discussed. This, in turn, leads
to Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi's reuse of the image of the Giant Cock
in a philosophical pessimistic passage, but we make sure a note
reproduces the Latin definition (he had read) from 17th century
Buxtorf's Rabbinical Hebrew an `Chaldaic' Lexicon. The fact a 19th
century edition of Buxtorf's Lexicon was dedicated to a person qualified
as Belfastinus Irus (an Irishman from Belfast), is pointed to from a
mention of our present president, Haim Herzog (also a belfastinus Irus),
who recently avocated a very controversial electoral reform, a proposal
that brought people in the streets (in favor). As to the yellow of the
egg, the mention points to a certain verse from a poem about society,
but that can also read according to a Lycian key, that is to say, to
embedded linguistic, geographical, and other data based on a paper by
Gusmani, with an intepretation of a Lycian stele from the city of
Xanthos (that we can misread as suggesting yellowness). A context
suggesting seats, in a very critical context, has a pointer leading us
to a note, with a translation of a short review from an ergonomics
journal, about a bibliography on the science of seating (user aspects of
seat manufacturing), and a nearby note, also by rather free association,
mentions McAlpin's hypothesis on a prehistoric link between ancient
Elamite (of western Persia) and the Dravidian languages of India, and
yet another note referencing a paper on reactions, in mid 19th century
Britain, to the till then unheard-of phonetics of Khoisan languages
(specifically, Victorian reactions to the clicks and clucks produced by
Bushmen brought to Britain).

Let us consider a certain passage, <<The Diaspora of Tires>>, based on
an episode taken from real life. One kibbutz (pace Marx) sold its
manufacture -- producing machinery for producing tires -- to South
Africa (of all places), practically together with the personnel, made up
of people from nearby Hatzor of Galilee, an [under-] "development town"
of Jewish immigrants from North Africa: a kind not much beloved by the
(pre-1977) ancien re'gime (at least). The passage includes a poetized
litany (based on a report on job interviewing with the new owner), of
workers begging the new employer to fly them to the new location of the
manufacture, instead of leaving them flatly unemployed:

ha`ifenu, ( "Have us fly,
hadrifenu, Send us to South Africa
[ acronymic root: Dr'f = Drom 'Afriqa = South Africa ],
hatrifenu Make us devour / eat
lehem huqqenu, Our lawful bread,
qnenu, Buy us,
torfenu, Devour us,
hoqnenu. Give us an enema." )

And so on. (In this quotation, only "hadrifenu" is a neologism.) The
passage wonders: will those tires have nothing to do with necklacing?
What can this new diaspora expect? A subsequent section recalls that
predicament, in a more general social context: "Stand on a hill,
bellow: < Zeem-be-zoom! > ... but down in the city, they are not even
going to hear you: they are too busy with "zoom-zeem" (that is to say:
"zoom" of "zeem"; see below). Pointers lead to explanations of these
Hebrew neologisms (expanding the topic), inter alia. "Zeembezoom" is a
regularly formed verbal form from a new root (a morphologically adapted
loan from "Zambezi"), and it means, obscurely of purpose: "They
Zambezized them", that is, "They [sent] them [south of the river]
Zambezi [and of the River Limpopo, too, for that matter." Actually,
there is a further note, in English in the original: "They Zambezize
'em!" In connection with another point (also mentioning the River
Limpopo), there is a reference to the owls of the Limpopo valley
(including a metaphorical elaboration in verses about the pearl-spotted
owl), with an ornithological discussion, and neologisms meant to
translate their names into Hebrew. Another point in the text has
"zeembezoom" co-occurring with "qimbezoom", a new Hebrew verb of the
same conjugation an expressing the factitive aspect (having somebody do
a given action), an based on the Judaeo-Arabic verb "qambaz", that is,
"to sit down frogwise". (As to "zoom-zeem", it is a neologism we could
render as "porno-zooming": "zeem" [zim] /zimm/, from /zimma/, means
"lust". That is, people are thought to be insensitive to the plight of
the exiled and to rather play a porno-cassette, for example, and zoom
close in.)

Hypertextuality can afford this style, that in sequential text would
be either awful or impossible.

Another passage, about the dire effects on mentality produced in peoples
ruled by "New Man" ideologies (either Leninist of Ben-Gurionite, mutatis
mutandis), has a term inserted in the text, "deshrait", which is
morphologically formed as an adverb, and use with that syntactic role in
the passage. A note explains it synthesizes some features pointed out
in the passage: the term is defined as meaning "Northern (Soviet,
relative to here, or of red Haifa), red, and swampy". The etymon is the
ancient Egyptian toponym Deshrait (the Place of the Red Crown, that is,
of the crown of Northern = Swampy Egypt. Egyptian had two similarly
sounding terms for north and swamp: mehi and meht). This way, we have
also a deadpan serious discussion of two entries in a toponomastical
lexicon of ancient Egypt. However, one more note thwarts a possible
criticism of having kept the vowel "e" in "deshrait" as a Hebrew
neologism, instead of replacing it with a more standard "i". And then?
The note asks (though more concisely than what I am explaining here):
didn't (physician and founding-father neologizing philologist, also:
former Russian revolutionary activist) Dr. Aaron Meir Masie (1858-1930)
or his posthumous editor, (paganizing poet, and physician) Shaul
Tschernichowsky (1875-1943) include, in their "Dictionary of Medicine &
Allied Sciences (Latin, English, Hebrew)" (Jerusalem: Margalit, 1934),
the entry for "spine", as Hebrew "shedra"? (Now, standard is "shidra".)
Another note has a personification of querulous personification of
academical self-importance blame Tschernichowsky (for providing me with
a precedent): Parce Dr. Masie (who first was here as a physician in
villages run by Rothschild: now, part of national myth), one of the
founder of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, but his (all the more
mythical) editor? Shaul, Shaul -- from the shoulder down [cf. King
S[h]aul, chosen because he was higher than average from his shoulder up]
-- wasn't it enough we brought you [in 1931] to this country and gave
you a job? [He first got a job as the editor of late Masie's
dictionary, and after its publication, obtained a job as a physician in
the schools of Tel Aviv.] (For not having corrected that "e":) You have
not read your lesson. Were you playing "iskumdarei"? (Another note
relate scholar's actual discussions on the identity of this game, whose
Aramaic name taken from a Talmudic idiom.) And so on, and so forth.
The term for "spine" ("shidra") is resorted to in another passage, for
neologizing purposes. Two sentences there state I am not continuing a
list of faults, because I don't wish to tarnish the page any more; the
second sentence goes on:

' ' ' ' ' '
"Lo etqanne be-khore- ha-(d)dovi me-'iyye 'eretz shidra'im."
(neologism) (neologism)

= "I wouldn't envy the miners of guano (dovi: from divyonim,
bird drops) from the islands of the Land of the Spinalians."

That is, of the islands of Chile, in the Pacific. Chileans are
Spinalians, because Chile is like the spine of the back of South America
(Hebrew: Drom America; acronym: dr'm. This acronymic root is embedded
inside the word for Spinalians: "shidra'im"). Acronymicity is conveyed
by a double quote inserted inside the word, as usual in Hebrew. But, on
the other hand, orthographically, the y of the plural ending /-im/ ym
is missing, thus conveying an association with Phoenician names of
peoples, where the ending was also /-im/ but was written by the m
alone. (Phoenicians ---> countries far away, beyond the sea.)

Another passage tells about a person (myself) who finds a job in
Australia. There is a sentence that could be rendered as follows:

"Thus far, existence was Chagallian, aereous. And now: wawirrious."

A note explains that, according to data gathered by Ken Halle, apud
a certain paper by Eloise Jelinek, "wawirri" means "kangaroo" in
Warlpiri (sic), a native Australian language. "Chagallian", instead,
points to a passage about Italian singer Domenico Modugno who, in
the mid 1960s, sang <<Volare>> ("To Fly": after Chagall's people in
the air). Perhaps you recall: "Volare, oh oh. Cantare, oh oh, oh oh.
Nel blu, dipinto di blu. Felice di stare lassu`." I (mis)translated
these words into Hebrew -- keeping the original metrics -- in such a
way that we are brought back to autobiographical remarks, out of the
senses that standing in air can take. But yet another note relates
recent news about Modugno related: compelled to use a wheelchair,
after a stroke, in '89 he was beaten up in a parking lot, by
somebody who wanted to park his car where Modugno's car was. What
wouldn't one do for a place?

The hologram of the main text and the hypertextual hierarchy (or net)
of notes produces what I term, neologizing again in Hebrew, a
"kattabbavu'a" (last vowel stressed), for a blend of images within text.
And then there is a rambling, neologizing passage explaining this, and
another passage that explains hypertext and proposes Hebrew terms for
hypertext (partzikhetev) and hypermedia (partzitemekh).

For Neologizing writing, the model is Shlonsky, but in the extreme, as
only hypertextuality can afford. This is also part of the satirical
intent, beside the fact I take a great pleasure in word coinage. (Well,
I even developed an expert system for doing that, by conservative rules,
but I used none of its proposals in the book: why should I leave the fun
to a stupid machine?!)

I suppose that Oedipus lurks in my relating to Shlonsky's (literary, not
editorial) lesson. Shlonsky, as an editor, was a kind of ideological
vestal for published Israeli literature to be, broadly speaking, Marxist
or at least Marxigenous (i.e., originating in the right, i.e. left,
circles), during the 1950s-60s, that is, at a time you had better be (or
be thought to be) with the ruling camp to get a job (after all, the
trade union concerns used to be, and still are, the largest employer,
and the trade union used to own 60% of national economy). Well, it is
history, hopefully, albeit an open-minded newspaper such as "Yedioth
Ahronoth", that is open to a broad ideological spectrum (and that took
the lead over "Maariv", hat used to be the independent newspaper of the
Labor Era), often relates about persisting ostracizing attitudes in the
literary establishment. There used to be a visible exception even among
Shlonsky's contemporaries: Uri Tzvi Grinberg, another giant. Even the
trade-union paper used to publish his poems, accepted by Shlonsky, but
then, again, "Yedioth Ahronoth" recently charged His Royal Editorhood
with having, once at least, even plagiarized one of Grinberg's
submissions, by using a cute idea and even passing it to another poet,
and then rejecting Grinberg's original poem, because its ideas were
unoriginal (two poets had used them). Well, it was for the Good Cause.
And Shlonsky definitely did not need somebody else's literary ideas.
More in general, now and then, you hear about some recently dead writer
(even such one who was "the father of them all" right after World War
I), that stopped writing some decade ago because he was not on the
winning ideological vessel. The fact these things are said openly, now,
and the growth of several independent publishing houses, ought to modify
the situation. Those literati that are still outcasts can blame only
themselves for not founding some journal of their own, to save themselves
from critics that keep silent on their work to (its) death. Moreover,
reasons are often idiosyncratic, not necessarily ideological; there is,
for example, the case of Hungarian-born Ephraim Kishon, a benign
satirist who is popular in some Northern European countries, and enjoys
the esteem of the Israeli public (well, he used to be the witty weekly
satirist of "Maariv" of old), but is a lifelong bitter outsider among
Israeli literati (especially Israeli-born, perhaps). His success in
German-speaking countries has even been used to blame him. These
aspects of the history of Israeli literature are little known outside
the local scene, but perhaps this has very much to do with the rather
narrow extension of its cognoscenti circles. ("Cognoscenti" is a term I
frown upon: it is a hybrid of Latin and Italian. Italian "conoscitori"
is American "cognoscenti". Italian "conoscenti" is English
"acquaintances". The "gn" in "cognoscenti" comes from Latin verb
"cognoscere", "to know. to be acquainted with", which in Italian is
"conoscere". Stress is on the second syllable.)

More on neologisms: I sent the Academy of the Hebrew language a report
with "100 terms you should know about e-lists"; later, an academician
told me why they had rejected this (without notifying me): I had
resorted too much to portmanteau formation. Therefore, as the book uses
two or three of these terms, I made an appendix out of the e-list
glossary. Standard Hebrew for mail is "do'ar". I coined:

"dorur" for e-mail;

"dorurav" /do%rurabb/ for e-list (email + many),

"doruriv" for a quarrel on an e-list, stemming from flaming on e-mail
(formation: email + quarrel);

"dorurabban" for an e-list editor (e-list + rabbi),
and, for an e-list woman editor: "dorurabbanit"
("rabbanit" is the wife of a rabbi);
and so on.

There is even:

"dorurovina" (the stress is on the "o"), for an e-list primadonna,
after the late Israeli stage actress Hanna Rovina.

"Dorurit ha-qqetanna shel Dickens" (Little Dorurit from Dickens:
instead of Litle Dorritt) is pictoresque speech for a newcomer
to email, that still needs some guru to mentor him or her.

Ephraim Nissan onomata@bengus.bitnet