The Toad's Words

Excursus #7

The response to Toad #6 was the best so far. Probably because I made a few mistakes. (Maybe that could be a strategy.) I received the following note, which I believe is worthy of repeating here, from my University of Illinois college roommate and one of my oldest friends (we will call him Paco).


Humble servant in flatlands enjoying toad's words immensly, imensly, immentsely, shit greatly. Please keep 'em coming as we may be allowed out of Bureau County some day. Have one suggestion. Could you include pronunciations where they are not obvious? Occasional visit to ethnic Italian (short I, accent on 'tal') restaurant may invoke philippic response if food is referred to as pukka (pronounced pew' - ka) Italian. "If-a you thought you-a were goin-a to puke-a after eating in-a this posh place, why-a did you-a and that puck with-a you bother comin-a here-a? Get-a da ****-a outta my place!"



For Paco's (and my other flatlander friends) sake 'pukka' is pronounced with a 'u' sound as in 'cut' not as in 'cute .'

Now, on to Toad #7

Rusticate, verb

To send or banish to the country. In Great Britain it means to suspend a student from a university. Another definition is to bevel or blunt the corners or edges of stone blocks in order to make the joints more obvious. The Latin word rus means country.

After Wilbur was rusticated from Chicago, he then got a job in Wynoose rusticating stone walls.

Sedulous, adjective

Diligent in application or pursuit. Accomplished with careful perseverance.

This is a more formal word than diligent. It usually refers to dogged application to an exhausting task.

The chemistry teacher pushed the class at such a pace that only the most sedulous students could keep up with him.

Pedantic, adjective

Needless display of learning. Emphasizing details in the presentation of knowledge.

From the Italian word pedante and probably from the Latin paedagogare meaning to instruct which, of course, is related to pedagogue. We all know that a pedagogue is one who instructs in a dogmatic (or pedantic) manner. Dogmatic, for those unfamiliar with the term, means one characterized by the authoritative or arrogant use of unproved tenets. Abraham Lincoln once said "The dogma of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present." I am sure that he was referring to the Civil War or The War of Northern Aggression as our friends from the Southern United States would say. The Southern States (or The Confederacy) are commonly thought of as those below the Mason Dixon line. But not all of the Confederate States are characterized.... You get the point?

The pedantic clerk went on about humus, adobe, nitrogen, earth worms, and acid rain for almost a half an hour without ever telling Mary which bag of fertilizer was best.

Churlishness, noun

Of or like a churl.

Just kidding! It means a person with grossly ill-mannered behavior as a result of a crude or vulgar background or upbringing. Someone that is extremely contentious and hostile. A churl is a medieval English peasant or rustic, a free man without rank.

Many people felt that in the old days, a prerequisite for working at the DMV was brazen churlishness.

Jejune, adjective

(The second 'e' is silent)

Not interesting or dull. Insipid. From a dietary point of view, jejune means lacking nutritious qualities; meager. Jejune comes from a Latin word meaning hungry.

Homer felt that he had been rusticated from MIT because he was not sedulous enough to keep up with the pedantic professors. However, in fact, the people of Cambridge simply found him to be churlish and his conversations jejune.

Revised: August 27, 2000

Copyright by Michael L. VanBlaricum, 04 September 2000.

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