Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Meaning: the OED says 'to reverse the office of a midwife... to retard or hinder from childbirth'.  Sir Thomas used it in a figurative sense.

Usefulness: 2 (It provides a rather dramatic way of telling someone they'll wish they'd never been born: "I'll make you wish you could disobstetricate yourself!" Could also be used to describe scenes such as Leonato's in Much Ado About Nothing, in which he wishes to disobstetricate Hero: "Grieved I, I had but one? Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame? O, one too much by thee!")

Logofascination: 1 (Due to being invented by Sir Thomas.)

In the wild: The poet Paul Groves found this word - I assume in a dictionary - and was so disturbed by it that he wrote a poem called Abomination. He calls it 'the vilest verb in the language' - I'm thinking of writing to him* to explain that Sir Thomas used it to describe the limits time might place on his work, rather than in any literal sense. Not that history isn't rotten with some rotten things, but in this instance Mr Groves' concerns could have been cleared up with a bit more context (for which, see below).

Degrees: 0

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: Ekskybalauron, in a rather clever argument.  Having established that the language he has (allegedly) invented is terribly valuable, and people should therefore give him money, Sir Thomas goes on to argue that as the inventor, he is even more valuable, and people should therefore give him even more money.
Thus much of the invention, or thing invented; which, as the fruit is to be accounted of less worth then the tree, which yeerly produceth the like; cistern-water that daily diminisheth, then that of a fountain, which is inexhaustible; and a haymow, then the meadow on which it grew, being, as in reason it ought, to be estimated at a rate much inferior to the inventer, from whose brains have already issued offsprings every whit as considerable, with parturiencie** for greater births, if a malevolent time disobstetricate not their enixibility***, it followeth of necessity that he should reap the benefit that is due for the invention, with hopes of a higher remuneration for what of the like nature remaineth as yet unsatisfied.  
As previously mentioned, most of the rest of the book is then spent justifying why he wants the money, arguing that it's not just because he's a Scot, and explaining how great Scots are anyway.

*I might also question whether there are not in fact viler verbs in the language, and point out that you shouldn't assume that just because something's in the dictionary it must have happened.
**readiness to give birth
***tomorrow's post

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