Call My Bluff

OS Map showing the location of Wordstable.

OS Map showing the location of Wordstable.

WordSTABLE

1. Some people say that ‘wordstable’ refers to a building. Pronouncing it ‘wordSTABLE’, they believe the term indicates a structure, set apart and adapted for the keeping of utterances (and originally other intellectual constructs), frequently divided into individual stalls, and accommodating any number of words – a definition adapted from the Oxford English Dictionary

Imagine the accumulated mess in a wordstable! The normal state of affairs would not be an established collection of thoroughbreds, such as might be kept by a Milton or (less certainly) a Shakespeare, but a mass of lexical muddle, including the entire contents of the dictionary, along with cacography, cacology, hiphoprhymes, malapropisms, mumpsimus, solecisms, spoonerisms, textingspeak and all the rest of it.

The cleansing of a wordstable would be more than enough to tax the stamina and ingenuity of Hercules himself.

2. Pronouncing it ‘wordsTABLE’, others say the term connotes a feast of words – a lexical banquet, a verbal symposium. Dreaming of Plato, these people forget that Socrates was the original Mad Hatter. Wordstable: a Mad Hatter’s tea party? Surely not.

3. Wordstable: a place name, pronounced like constable or Dunstable. As with all similar toponyms, the —stable suffix is a variant of ‘staple’, meaning marketplace or meeting place. ‘Word’, of course, means word. Wordstable: a clifftop town on the Dragonsea coast, north of Hardplace, south of Rock island. This is the correct definition.

 

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  Honoré Daumier,  Hercules in   the Stables of Augeas  (1842).

Honoré Daumier, Hercules in the Stables of Augeas (1842).


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