The English language is a truly ancient organism. Like all living things, it evolves constantly, growing new words and shedding old ones like a snake sheds its skin. Thanks to a wonderful website called The Phrontistery, many of those forgotten words have been preserved in a kind of lexical deep-freeze.
In order to demonstrate the power of forgotten words, I’ve set myself – and you – a challenge. I’ve created one story concept for each of the first three letters of the alphabet, using words chosen from The Phrontistery’s International House of Logorrhea – a vault of weird and unusual words. Where do you come in? Simple – I’ve done A, B and C, but the rest of the alphabet is yours for the taking. Use the comments box to share your ideas, or keep them to yourself. I’m easy. As to whether any of us get round to writing the complete stories … wouldn’t that be a happy ending?
A – The Autophanus Man
A man wakes one morning to find his entire body is glowing faintly. By midday, he’s brighter than a fluorescent tube. By the evening, he’s outshining the sun. Government forces identify him as a dangerous new power source. Religious fanatics proclaim him a god. Desperate to escape attention, he flees to the only sanctuary he can find: a retreat for the blind …
autophanous (adj): self-luminous
B – The Borborygmus Tapes
An old woman dying of cancer hears voices coming from her stomach. Nobody else can hear them, and she fears her mental state is deteriorating. Then she discovers a battered old reel-to-reel tape recorder, on which she’s able to record her conversations with her strange abdominal muses. Years after she’s finally succumbed to her illness, her daughter stumbles upon the tapes, which contain a list of instructions on how to survive life after death …
borborygmus (n): rumbling noise in the intestines
C – The Cribbler
A master craftsman spends weeks creating a window screen decorated with an elaborate pattern, comprising ten thousand tiny puncture marks. The instant he completes his work, a little hand thrusts through one of the holes, clutching a tiny scrap of paper. The craftsman takes the note with a pair of tweezers and examines it with a magnifying glass. The note reads: “Help me – I’m trapped.” Returning to the screen, the craftsman sees that a tiny hand is now poking from every single hole …
cribble (vb): to decorate wood or metal with small dots or punctures
There. I’m done.
Now it’s your turn.
What can the wonderful world of forgotten words do for you?
Regular visitors may recall I’ve mentioned The Phrontistery before. Here’s a post from 2011 entitled Using Words Like Flints.