The strip is simple...Hobbes burbles on about the word "smock," while Calvin grows increasingly irritable about it.
But Hobbes speaks truth: some words simply are pleasant to say.
One of my friends adores the word "bumbershoot," and it's surprising how often she manages to work it into conversation.
I often come back at her with parapluie, which I've usually forgotten is French for umbrella.
My language skills go spotty from time to time, rife with spelling oddities and misattributed vocabulary.
I blame an early bout of encephalitis. Still, wrong language or not, I stand by the parapluie; it's far more fun to say than bumbershoot.
(Profanity as a word, let me remind us, started life as a description of irreligious language. It would mean profaning a deity or a religion. Only as time went by did it come to mean bodily vulgarity.)
So many highly enjoyable ways to express discontent or contempt using those seven or so words...
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It's a mouthful, this Latinate word that sounds a fabulous convict, but no. It came from "tabula," a tale and a table, joined with "com," which means "together," but which gets changed to "con" for ease of speech.
In the original Latin (one original Latin, anyhow), it was "confabulari" and it meant to talk about something or another. Like chatting or chattering or burbling. In a rare Oz moment, American slang shortens the word to "confab." One might say, "We're having a confab, Mom, just leave the snacks at the door."
Then in 1900 or so, the word took up a new job: describing a clinical behavior of making up stuff to fill gaps in memory. A person with dementia is said to confabulate when telling you that he was in the Bolshoi ballet, say, and a spy for the Allies, when you're quite sure he was a dentist in Cincinnati born after the war, with a bum leg to boot.
Confabulation is a coping mechanism for people with failing memory. It works to help patients make sense of the world; they generally do not even know that they are telling a tale. Unlike a garden-variety lie, which assumes intent, confabulation is not a conscious choice.
It's not just the result of brain injuries, btw. Confabulation comes to play when people are striving to make a correct answer. Which is partly the challenge with eye-witness accounts. As a species, we like to be right.
I've been thinking about confabulation as both chatting and bridging a gap in memory, but also as description for how or why we tell stories.
It's a little like people-watching ("Be careful, the man in the gaberdine suit is a spy!"), where the story starts off as a guess –– one that will never be tested as true or false ("Excuse me, sir, is your bowtie really a camera?").
We elaborate on the guess, spinning a yarn from whatever bits of fluff float around in our minds.
Okay, egg-heading over. I also like the word "spanakopita," but you don't catch me babbling on about it.
Yet more confabulating articles: