Sunday, October 17

The dictionary that describes “the inner breath of words”

On my dictionary shelf I have the novel Alice through the mirror. It is placed in first position by a ritual. Every time I’m looking for a word Psche!I stand up, take a deep breath, and read Humpty Dumpty before opening any dictionary.

“When I use a word,” says the egg to Alice, “that word means exactly what I want it to mean, no more, no less.”

That comment from Humpty Dumpty always helps me to put my feet on the ground before listening to the Academy. Because even though there are standard definitions, the meanings are slippery. Each word, in each mouth, acquires different nuances.

It is common for two people to use the same term in a conversation to say different things. And how many misunderstandings it causes! Because a voice that has positive connotations for the speaker may have negative connotations for the listener.

Many times to settle these discussions one goes to the dictionary. But it does not always help because the dictionary usually leads to a similar word or a definition as pelá like the doctor’s prescription. I learned this from a lexicographer who wrote an atypical dictionary around the time Lewis Carroll wrote Alice through the mirror.

That lexicographer was called Roque Barcia and, in 1863, he proposed that other types of dictionaries be made. On Philosophy of the Spanish language: Castilian synonyms (1863) says that the definition of a dictionary to use is like a footprint on the ground. It leaves the trace of the word, but it fails to describe its spirit. It is like “a plant without aroma”; it is just “the woody part” of a word.

Roque Barcia proposed a dictionary that also expressed the “inner breath” and the “vital breath” of words. And with that idea he published an exquisite book that dedicates more than 500 pages to unraveling the soul of some words, so that we do not say one thing when in reality we want to say another.

Castilian synonyms has practical information of the type: it is not the same fool that a fatuous that a foolish. The dictionary reads like this:

Fool is the one who does not understand.

Foolish, the one who does not know.

Fatuous, the one who speaks without sense.

The fool work, eat, sleep.

The foolish, because he does not know anything, he does not know that he does not know, and he thinks he does. Hence it comes that every fool says the greatest emptiness with the greatest pride.

The fatuous he is reputed to be Demosthenes and articulates words without speaking, or speaks without saying, or says the opposite of what he should express.

The fool It’s pitiful; the foolish, laughter; the fatuous, anger.

If limbo, purgatory and nothingness existed in this world, fool should go to limbo; the foolish, to purgatory; the fatuous, to nothing, so that he had no one to bore.

This illustrious dictionary also talks about words and language. And it makes it clear how wrong we are in striving to make synonyms to the word Yet the voice. Well no. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

The voice it is related to pronunciation and hearing. The voice it is sound. Instead, the word “It has no material, no organic, no ear, no mouth.” The word is a comparison or a simile. “It is a parable, a metaphor, a figure, a fable.” And that’s where Roque Barcia goes and with this verse he finishes it off: “La voice it is song; the word he’s genius. ”

Nor is it the same word what a voice. The voice It is the sound that comes out of the animal’s mouth. The wordInstead, it is that sound considered language or speech. “The voices they are made up of sounds; the words, of syllables. The voices they articulate; the words are written “.

The same happens with the accent and the tone. The accent is a derivative of song (ad cantum) and the tone comes from the idea of ​​tension (tensum). “The accent it is modulation; the tone it is energy, tension like that of the arc. The accent marks the music of the voice and the word. The tone marks the vigor of the voice and the writing “.

The Andalusian accent or the Asturian accent is the stop of the Andalusian or Asturian pronunciation. And how beautiful this lexicographer explains it with this idea: the accent is “that kind of melody or compass” with which each region speaks. That’s why it has nothing to do with him tone, that is harsh, or sarcastic, or imperious. “The accent expresses; the tone command. The accent hurts the ear; the tone it hurts the spirit. ”

More of the same happens with tongue and the language. “The tongue it is the organ with which we speak: speech. The language is the practice of the language: the exercise. “They are very different because” the tongue is faculty, disposition, nature “and” the language it is study, criticism, imitation, habit, art “.

And what about the words Spanishize and Castilianize? Are we talking about the same thing? Absolutely! “For Spanishize a word, it is enough for the Spanish to use it. “It would happen to us today with cringe (an English word that means “to shame others”). “For Castilianize it, we should modify it according to the analogy and the sonority of our language. “We see it today, for example, with cybersquatting instead of cybersquatting.

The lexicographer warns that, no matter how hard we try, it is not the same book that a volume. The volume goes to weight: “It is an aggregate of sheets, the collection of pages, a bundle of printed papers.” And the book it is the exalted: “Morality, dogma, law, science, history.”

The volume is “a mass” (the box) and the book, “an intelligence” (the essence). “The volume it’s one thing. The book it is humanity. “And what poetry and what altitude Roque Barcia gives to this strange dictionary! Castilian synonyms, From definition to verse! What harmonies to distinguish some words from others! Thus, at the end of the entry dedicated to book and the volume, in a in crescendo epic opera, exalts: “The volume it takes space. The book revolutionize the world. Gutenberg homeland, Mainz sun, cheers! ”



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