On the division of animals

More often than not, the linguist or anthropologist just throws up his hands and resorts to giving a list — a list that one would not be surprised to find in the writings of Borges.
George Lakoff

Those that belong to the Emperor,
embalmed ones,
those that are trained,
suckling pigs,
mermaids,
fabulous ones,
stray dogs,
those that are included in this classification,
those that tremble as if they were mad,
innumerable ones,
those drawn with a very fine camel’s hair brush,
others,
those that have just broken a flower vase,
those that resemble flies from a distance.

From ‘Other Inquisitions’ in which Borges writes of a strange way of classifying animals in an ancient Chinese encyclopaedia. Via Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Definitions

Extremely elderly Benedictine monk
Irrational predilection for performing surgery
Of, like or pertaining to lava
One who habitually enters many competitions

Local judge among miners
Provisional name for a plant whose flowers are unknown
Expression of joy among Arab women
Muscle by which the testicles are suspended

Government by superior firepower or by cannons
Part of a bullfighting arena where the bull makes his stand
Ancient syrupy medicine that is licked off a spoon
Doctrine that the wicked are utterly destroyed after death

Some definitions from The Phrontistery, a free online dictionary of obscure words. Submitted by Howie Good.

Soft-soaping

Blowfly-minded
Retardate worm
Clown of the House

Idle vapourings of a mind diseased
I would cut the honourable gentleman’s
throat if I had the chance

His brains could revolve inside a peanut shell
for a thousand years without touching the sides
Kind of animal that gnaws holes

Member not fit to lick
the shoes of the Prime Minister
Energy of a tired snail returning
home from a funeral

Shut up yourself, you great ape
Snotty-nosed little boy
You are a cheap little twerp
Ridiculous mouse

Could go down the Mount Eden sewer and come up
cleaner than he went in
Dreamed the bill up in the bath
Frustrated warlord

Phrases deemed ‘unparliamentary language’ and banned from New Zealand parliamentary debates, as listed on Futility Closet, 30th October 2013. Submitted by Marika.

Coffee

Coffee
A beverage consisting of
A decoction or infusion of
The roasted ground or crushed seeds of
The two-seeded fruit of
Certain coffee trees
The seeds
Or fruit
Themselves any tropical tree or shrub of
The genus Coffea of
The madder family
Especially
C. arabica
And
C.canephora
Cultivated commercially
Compare Arabian Coffee
Robusta Coffee
A cup of coffee
We ordered four coffees and
Three doughnuts
A social gathering
at which coffee and
Other refreshments
Are served

The definition of coffee at Dictionary.com. Submitted by Christian Smith.

Prosciutto

When I was young, there was one kind of prosciutto.
It was made in the winter, by hand, and aged for two years.
It was sweet when you smelled it.
A profound perfume.

If it’s too warm, the aging process never begins.
The meat spoils.
If it’s too dry, the meat is ruined.
It needs to be damp but cool.

The summer is too hot.
In the winter—that’s when you make salumi.
Your prosciutto.
Your soppressata.
Your sausages.

An old Italian butcher talking about making prosciutto, via Bill Buford, according to Wikipedia. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.

Set upon the étagère

Aftercare, agate ware
air-to-air, antiair
anywhere, arctic hare
Asian pear, bayadere
bêche-de-mer, Belgian hare
billionaire, boutonniere
bring to bear, camel hair
Camembert, captain’s chair.

Chinaware, compressed air
county fair, crackleware
Croix de Guerre, debonair
de la Mare, derriere
disrepair, doctrinaire
earthenware, easy chair
en plein air, everywhere
fighting chair, flying mare.

Fourragère, Frigidaire
germ warfare, get somewhere
graniteware, grizzly bear
here and there, hide or hair
hollowware, ice-cream chair
in one’s hair, in the air
ironware, jasperware
kitchenware, La Bruyère.

Lacquerware, laissez-faire
Latin square, legionnaire
lion’s share, Little Bear
love affair, luminaire
lusterware, magic square
mal de mer, managed care
market share, Medicare
metalware, millionaire.

Minaudière, miter square
Mon-Khmer, morris chair
Mousquetaire, nom de guerre
on the square, open-air
otherwhere, outerwear
overbear, overwear
perfect square, plasticware
polar bear, potty-chair.

Porte cochere, prickly pear
questionnaire, rivière
Robespierre, rocking chair
savoir faire, science fair
self-aware, self-despair
silverware, slipper chair
snowshoe hare, solar flare.

Solitaire, swivel chair
tear one’s hair, then and there
thoroughfare, trench warfare
unaware, underwear
vaporware, vivandière
wash-and-wear, water bear
wear and tear, willowware
woodenware, world premiere
yellowware, zillionaire.

From a list of words that rhyme with étagère on the Merriam Webster online dictionary, 31 January 2013. Submitted by Steph Dempsey.

Shreddies

(for Fred Goodwin)

For a few years, Shreddies’ advert campaigns
featured a cartoon personification
of ‘Hunger’ as an antagonist.

He appeared as a blue monster with big teeth
whose goal it was to taunt hungry individuals
by drumming on their stomachs
with a pair of silver spoons.

Hunger would then be dispatched
when the victim consumed
a bowl of shreddies,
sealing hunger inside a shreddie cage.

Despite his troublesome persona,
hunger was frequently used as a mascot
for the cereal during this period.

Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Shreddies on 1st February 2012. Submitted by Nick Asbury.