Monday, April 13, 2009

Codding with Obscure Scrabble Words

The game Scrabble provides a unique opportunity to learn the back alleys of the English Language. Because the game forces the players to think of words out of a combination of letters, people think of just about any combination of vowels and consonants. Desperate attempts at forming words often results in stumbling upon obscure words.

To really demonstrate this, I'm going to play some Boggle. I'm going to pull everything that sounds like a word out of a few Boggle games. Then, I'll drop the words that aren't words, save the one's that are, and write a story out of the obscure ones. I expect it to be unintelligible.

Let's see where this goes. To start:

gone
dook
kooe
goost
dog
god
doss
cod
sed
dest
dests
mog
gode
doke
voke
kosoe
soke
moced
moce
noced
noce
nocs
noc
goes
tsen
good
soe
moe
codes
code
sod
good
goods
cods
gone
mone
voost
vooe
vook
ness
nedo

Second list:
foe
fou
fuo
fuse
her
ten
fet
teb
bet
hey
cey
nous
nouse
ben
hece
net
noet
foet
soet
son
hecy
hecn
hec
fen
nofe
nof

Let's cut down the words. These are the ones that are real words:
gone
dog
god
doss - to sleep in any convenient place
cod - to fool
mog - to move away
soke - a feudal right to administer justice within a certain territory
goes
good
goods
code
sod - to cover with sod
ness - a headland - a cliff
foe
fou - drunk
fuse
her
ten
fet - to fetch
bet
hey
nous - mind, reason, or intellect
ben - an inner room
net
son
fen

I'm going to get rid of the less obscure words, because they're not the reason I'm doing this exercise.

doss - to sleep in any convenient place
cod - to fool
mog - to move away
soke - a feudal right to administer justice within a certain territory
sod - to cover with sod
ness - a headland - a cliff
fou - drunk
fet - to fetch
nous - mind, reason, or intellect
ben - an inner room

So, from those:
A fou sodder once would always cod and doss through the soke of Judge Tamanar. Since he was always fou and acted without nous, his ill-disciplined ways landed him once in the ben of a rich aristocrat. Judge Tamanar ordered his sheriffs to fet the fou sodder, and Judge Tamanar told him to mog or he'd throw him from a ness. While the fou sodder mogged, he fell off a ness anyway.

Now, with the "translation:"
A drunk sodder once would always fool and sleep in any convenient location through the jurisdiction of Judge Tamanar. Since he always drunk and acted without reason, his ill-disciplined ways landed him once in the inner room of a rich aristocrat. Judge Tamanar ordered his sheriffs to fetch the drunk doffer, and Judge Tamanar ordered him to move away or he'd throw him from a cliff. While the drunk moved away, he fell off a cliff anyway.

Both paragraphs convey very precise information. The obscure words are beneficial in that they increase the concision of the paragraph. Yet despite the great value in this concision and precision, the words have their connotations, but since they're so obscure, I don't know them, nor does the reader likely know them. As a result, despite the precision of using such words, a lot of meaning seems missing even if the definition is known. In fact, the same ideas can be conveyed with greater precision and connotation by using more familiar words:
A drunk sodder never did his job and was a bum in the jurisdiction of Judge Tamanar. Since he was always did stupid things, his alcoholism led him to passing out in a rich aristocrat's house. Judge Tamanar had the drunk arrested and threatened to throw him from a cliff if he did not exhile himself. While leaving, the drunk sodder fell off a cliff anyway.

Of course, my attempt at using the words is forced, and the story I created to use the words is better conveyed with other words. It's likely that the content of the story was conceived with concepts--and therefore, words--that are more familiar to me. This forces me to wonder if learning the words would expand my imagination itself through the concepts they convey, increasing the possibilities of things I can imagine.

But before I expand my nous, I think I'll doss a bit.

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