Proverbs for Paranoids

Don’t know if you picked up on this, but Thomas Pynchon recently wrote a letter to The Daily Telegraph on Ian McEwan’s defense. The paper showed an image of the letter, clearly written on an artifact from the middle of the past century, which used to be known as a “typewriter.”

Pynchon fans would argue that the typewriter is a perfect metaphor for the post-modernist. Lapsed technology.

On page 251 of Against the Day I found a word that fools Scrivener as well as the OED: “aptotic.” Thinks it’s from the Greek and something about declination. Not sure. My typewriter doesn’t have a spell checker.

This is not from TP:


Well, not “declination” - rather, “declension.” It’s a good one to know though. Thanks!


An aptote is a noun that has no declensions, that is it’s undeclinable. ‘Aptotic noun’ is redundant. Aptote comes from the Latin ‘aptotum’.

I didn’t know any of this, of course, but it took only a quick web search to figure it out. I’d be shocked if it wasn’t in the OED. :confused:

It is the 2nd edition:

aptotic, a.
[f. prec. + -IC, after Gr. <bunch of Greek characters I don’t know how to type>]
Uninflected. Applied to languages which have no grammatical inflexions.

…which links to an even more fun word (in my opinion):

anaptotic, a.
Falling back from inflexion, again uninflected. Applied, by some, to languages, in which most of the inflexions have disappeared by phonetic decay, their place being supplied by relational words and rules of position.

1850 LATHAM Varieties of Man 12 Languages of the English type, Anaptotic.

Really, I’m quite surprised that a levelled accusation of redundancy in a thread built around lexical discovery and delight would not include an invocation of the classic: pleonastic.

Wow, cool. Pity I was away the day they did latin and don’t understand a word. But I am impressed, and maybe a little scared.

Lol. This reminds me of a friend of mine who once, upon being asked for directions by two Spanish tourists in London, decided to try out his GCSE Spanish on them in his reply. To which they replied, “You are scaring us very much now.”

hah! Funny keith!

A true story: I spent some years in Guatemala. When I first arrived (in a very rural area, and me with zero spanish), I attempted to arrange for lodgings at (what appeared to be) a nunnery of some kind. I had been told they rented out their spare rooms.

However, I intended to rent by the week - and not by the night. The staff, though, kept quoting to me the nightly rate. And I kept responding with, “por favor, senora – por hermana, por hermana,” thinking I was saying, “please madam, per week, per week,” when I was in fact saying, “please madam, per sister, per sister.” Week is “semana.” :blush: