Monday, October 15, 2012


Meaning: buzzing

Usefulness: 1 (handy at work, even if you're not a beekeeper.  "That presentation was particularly bombinating, George." "Will this bombinating never end?" "I'm off sick - there is a terrible bombination in my ear.")

Logofascination: 1 (it probably shares a Latin root with bomb, and in its OED entry Rabelais gets the citation; it's in a Latin phrase in G&P and so the French text is cited rather than Sir Thomas' English one.)

In the wild: not exactly, but it gets a mention in The Semantics of Verbs Denoting Animal Sounds, which sounds like a text that should be included in the list below*.

Degrees: 1

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: G&P, Second Book, VII: How Pantagruel came to Paris, and of the choice books of the Library of St Victor. This fictional list of texts is a satire on much academic, theological, legal and theoretical writing, and has, paradoxically, spawned yet more academic writing on what the titles mean and / or if they mean anything. A small sample:
The Sauciness of Country-Stewards.
M.N. Rostocostojambedanesse de mustarda post prandium servienda, libri quatuordecim, apostillati per M. Vaurillonis.**
The Covillage or Wench-tribute of Promoters.
(Jabolenus de Cosmographia Purgatorii.)
Quaestio subtilissima, utrum Chimaera in vacuo bombinans possit comedere secundas intentiones; et fuit debatuta per decem hebdomadas in Consilio Constantiensi.
The Bridle-champer of the Advocates.
Smutchudlamenta Scoti.
This title, which is in Latin described by one commentator as 'very doggy', translates to "A most subtle question: whether a chimera bombinating in a vacuum can devour second intentions; as was debated for ten weeks in the Council of Constance." The bombinating chimera has been used as a metaphor ever since.

If you like those titles, someone has helpfully compiled a list of Rabelais' imaginary texts (others appear throughout G&P) over at Wikipedia. We'll be returning to them, as Sir Thomas had a lot of fun translating this list.

*I acknowledge that this blog might also be a candidate for inclusion.

**Frame translates this as "Our Master Rostocostokickintheass, On serving mustard after the meal, fourteen books, collected by Master Valurillon." 'Mustard after the meal' was apparently a saying similar to our 'closing the stable door after the horse has bolted'.

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