Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Meaning: big letters, capitals.

Usefulness: 1 (To describe angry text: "I see you're using majuscule to express your outrage." Or as your random fact for the day: "Did you know that minuscule has an opposite?")

Logofascination: 1 (Majuscule and minuscule are both typographical terms, taken originally from palaeography. Minuscule text is the small text, in printer's terms the very small text, and so came to mean very small things in general. They are related to major and minor respectively, although the common misspelling, miniscule, shows the influence of mini.)

In the wild: Yes; here are some pictures.

Degrees: 2

Connections: majuscule - letters

Which is used in: G&P, Book the Second, XXXIV: The conclusion of this present book, and the excuse of the author. In defending the tone of his work, Rabelais argues that those that read it for pure merriment are better than hypocrites who pretend not to read it, but do so in secret, along with a number of other things. He goes on to say that you can tell these people are hypocrites because:
You may read it in great letters in the colouring of their red snouts, and gulching bellies as big as a tun, unless it be when they perfume themselves with sulphur. As for their study, it is wholly taken up in reading of Pantagruelian books, not so much to pass the time merrily as to hurt someone or other mischievously, to wit, in articling, sole-articling, wry-neckifying, buttock-stirring, ballocking, and diabliculating, that is, calumniating.
Wry-neckifying is Sir Thomas' translation for torticulating, which Rabelais presumably created from torticollis. Rabelais' writing often got him into trouble from the kinds of people who said they would never read something so common. 

No comments:

Post a Comment