Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Meaning: From the best known passage of Sir Thomas' own writing, and possibly his most popular word, I don't think anyone knows exactly what hirquitalliency means. The OED itself avoids giving a definition - it is sometimes misquoted as defining it as 'having or acquiring a strong voice', but the 'strong voice' reference is in the etymology. The careful homework over at Laudator Temporis Acti brings us closer to the meaning of this word: I suggest you go and read that and then come back (don't look at the archives: you can read those later).

Done? Right. The hirqui- is obviously a reference to goats, and we've seen what their reputation is like. I think Corbett's 'delighted shouts' is close to the meaning, bearing in mind the context.  My personal theory is that Sir Thomas is playing on the difference between the sense and the impression of the word, as he does the contrast between the geometric imagery of sundials and the 'cobweb slenderness of his Cyllenian vestments', between discussions of purity and digressions into the rules of grammar.  The Latin twirls and fancies of the language suggest the delicate cobwebbery and obfuscation of the romance, but the loud, lusty, Rabelaisian reality is present in the meaning and allusions - the heroine's cries may well be goat-like, but they are also pleased. 

Even if I am wrong, I think anyone using it to mean merely 'strong voiced' should think carefully about the reference to goats and the original - and so far only - citation for this word.

Usefulness: 1

Logofascination: 1 (this should probably be labelled 1A, or 1 Prime: I think this is the word that started my fascination with Sir Thomas and all his works, and although it's not currently my favourite - I'm terribly fickle - it is the reason I've discovered all of the others.)

In the wild: not really, although a few people seem to have adopted it as a user name. I have managed to avoid the temptation to email them the passage it's from... so far, anyway.

Degrees: 0

Connections: n/a

Used in: Eksykbalauron (The Jewel). This passage is really the only way to finish off a week of words nebrundiatory and fredaliatory:
Thus for a while their eloquence was mute, and all they spoke was but with the eye and hand, yet so persuasively, by vertue of the intermutual unlimitedness of their visotactil sensation, that each part and portion of the persons of either was obvious to the sight and touch of the persons of both; the visuriency of either, by ushering the tacturiency of both, made the attrectation of both consequent to the inspection of either. Here it was that passion was active, and action passive, they both being overcome by other, and each the conquerour. To speak of her hirquitalliency at the elevation of the pole of his microcosme, or of his luxuriousness to erect a gnomon on her horizontal dyal, will perhaps be held by some to be expressions full of obscoeness, and offensive to the purity of chaste ears; yet seeing she was to be his wife, and that she could not be such without consummation of marriage, which signifieth the same thing in effect, it may be thought, as definitiones logicae verificantur in rebus, if the exerced act be lawful, that the diction which suppones it, can be of no greater transgression, unless you would call it a solaecisme, or that vice in grammar which imports the copulating of the masculine with the feminine gender.
Insert conjugation joke here. 

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