instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, January 07, 2017

A word or two, if I may

One of the nice things about having a blog you never update that no one reads is you can post whatever you like. I like words, and I came across two in the last few months I'd like to remember.

Nondenotative means "not denotative." I'll go ahead and use it to mean "of or relating to words that do not denote anything," then distinguish different kinds of nondenotative speech:
  • gibberish (word-like sounds)
  • double-talk (speech that sounds like it denotes some meaning, but on reflection or review doesn't)
  • speech that objectively denotes some meaning but that is spoken in a particular instance without a subjective intent to denote anything...
    • ...and without a subjective intent to connote something
    • ...but with a subjective intent to connote something
There may be some cases in which you'd want to take that last kind of nondenotative speech seriously but not literally.
Obnubilate means "becloud, obscure." Clouds can obnubilate the sun, polite words can obnubilate true intent, awkward mannerisms can obnubilate intelligence. If William Strunk's dictum, "Omit needless words," were universally adopted, "obnubilate" would be omitted from the dictionary.