Neological nightmares

Much discussion over at Pharyngula about a word one could use to mean awe, and especially the awe of a kind which is enhanced when you understand more of the thing you’re looking at. Something like a negative of that benighted, empty woo-word spirituality.

Suggestions include scientility, nerdgasm, numinous, sublime, and many others. A commenter noted the Greek word for understanding is apparently katavalos (I don’t know, could be modern Greek for a lifeboat for all I know), and I suggested, based on that, the words katavaly and katavalic.

Like this: “I think I’m a pretty katavalic person: the more I understand, the more I adore. Then again, looking up at the skies and knowing why stars burn is enough to fill anyone with katavaly for a day.”

Don’t ask me how to pronounce it; I’m a Finn and we don’t speak. Katavalic with a hard “k” anyway, “ka” and “ta” both quick syllables, and then veil+ik (wail-lick?); oh dear. Katabatic and caterwauling come to mind. (Now I would need the feckin’ IPA speaker I was longing for; I could hit it until it squawked out the word as I, in my vast ignorance of Greek derivatives and spoken English, hear it.)

To torture the invention still further, I hereby and with mock solemnity coin the word katavaliant, i.e. ready to say and argue that there is great aesthetical, intellectual and emotional beauty in science; and more beauty in knowledge and understanding than in mysticism and ignorant awe. (“Unweaving the Rainbow is a very katavaliant book. And by that I do not mean a Greek adjective for sexual intercourse with cats.”)

Nah; these kata words sound nice to me, but as I am not yet the supreme controller of all nomenclature (“MoE for SCAN 2012!”), and as euphoniousness is a subjective thing, eh.

And now to the subject of this post: after reading a few dozen comments on the Pharyngula thread the following bubbled up.

* * *

“So, how you feeling?”

“Pretty mathemalicious. Have an exam to grade, and it’s not going to be pretty.”

“Poor students. What about that new physics professurly?”

“Oh, he’s just physick. An empirisky labbler with no appreciation of theorighters.”

“Oh dear. That damn physics facult and their disdain of arithmen! As if that laboratrace could produce anything without some theoruminations. A theoruminator, I mean, is what they need.”

“What, a hypothesister like Emmy Noether?”

“Yeah, more than a calculatrix; a real lemmarch, a true citeminence such as her. This new guy is just… just…”

“A hypethesis-happy spin-up boy crawling up the tenurethra?”

“That’s a good one; I got to write that down.”

One Response to “Neological nightmares”

  1. Ian Andreas Miller Says:

    I found your blog by googling “scientility” (which not only is strangely formed etymologically, but sounds like some other unfortunate words).

    Whatever this “katavalos” is, it isn’t Greek! ^_~

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