Thursday, December 15, 2011

Fiona Apple's Vocabulary Lesson for Sorely Wronged Ladies

A few weeks ago I put Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine in rotation because Courtney E. Smith put it on her Top Five Desert Island List, saying, "We are chronically inseparable in times of trouble, Fiona and I. She wasn't cool, she was commercial, and writing songs straight out of her journal on that first album... It feels like we've grown up together, but haven't necessarily grown out of our bad habits." 

Since then, every woman I've asked has confessed that the album carried her through a rough spot. Even more than eating ice cream straight from the carton, it's a secret ritual. Sorry to blow the whistle, ladies. Here's a news flash for the uninitiated: Pounding the steering wheel and singing "What wasted unconditional love / On somebody who doesn't believe in the stuff!" works. It's the perfect cathartic cross between lament and something much fiercer--with teeth. And it's smart. Unfortunately, it's too smart. I repeatedly had to turn to Webster to decode Fiona's diction.

Fiona says: A voice once stentorian is now again meek and muffled.
Webster says: sten·to·ri·an
[sten-tawr-ee-uh n] adjective: very loud or powerful in sound: a stentorian voice.
In English:
Some dude made her feel disenfranchised.
Use it in a sentence: The stentorian patron shattered the library's stillness.

Fiona says: You came upon me like a hypnic jerk when I was just about settled.
Webster says: Nothing. But about.com says "A hypnic jerk is an involuntary muscle contraction, sometimes called a myoclonic twitch, that occurs during the lightest stage of sleep. This stage 1 sleep occurs as you begin to fall asleep. There may be a sensation of falling followed by a physical jerk back to wakefulness."
In English:
Some dude shook things up.
Use it in a sentence: A hypnic jerk rudely pulled Desdemona from a pleasant half-sleep.

Fiona says: Oooh, after all the folderol, and hauling over coals stops, what will I do?
Webster says: fol·de·rol 
[fol-duh-rol]
noun: falderal
Umm... right. Falderal. THAT EXPLAINS IT. Except no.
Webster says: fal·de·ral
[fal-duh-ral] noun:
1. mere nonsense; foolish talk or ideas. 
2. a trifle; gimcrack; gew-gaw.
In English: Drama has become the norm for this woman, and she isn't sure how to function without it.
Use it in a sentence:
Selena stared at the cherub-patterned Persian rug idly, ignoring Kanye's folderol.

Fiona says: Conversation once colored by esteem became duologue as a diagram of a play for blood.
Webster says: du·o·logue
[doo-uh-lawg, -log, dyoo-] noun:
1. a conversation between two persons; dialogue.
2. a dramatic performance or piece in the form of a dialogue limited to two speakers.
In English: Seriously?! Using "Duologue" instead of "Dialogue" is way too pretentious.

Use it in a sentence: Never.

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