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This week let's have fun with words from the Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.

equipoise - 1. a counterbalance 2. equality of weight or force; hence, equilibrium -- said of moral, political, or social interests or forces
quote:
Oh fool, that fleest / My hallowed joys!
Oh blind, that seest / No equipoise!
Oh rash, that judgest / From half, the whole!
Oh base, that grudgest / Love's lightest dole!
Thy heart unbind,
Oh fool, oh blind!
Give me my place,
Oh rash, oh base!
- Katisha, an elderly noblewoman in G&S's Mikado, complaining that Nanki-Poo does not perceive her charms

What matters is the poetry ... its delicate equipoise, held between the sensual and the abstract ...
- James A. Winn, reviewing World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell, by Nicholas Murray, New York Times, July 9, 2000 (thanks to dictionary.com for this quotation)
 
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...not all that different from plain ol' poise: balance, coolness, composure - also, the measuring unit of viscosity
 
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Instead of "Words from Gilbert & Sullivan", let's make our theme "Words from Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado".

minion1. an obsequious follower or dependent; a sycophant 2. a subordinate official.
quote:
It is consequently my degrading duty to serve this upstart... . And at a salary! A Pooh-Bah paid for his services! I a salaried minion! But I do it! It revolts me, but I do it!
- Pooh-Bah, in The Mikado

You failure, go to hell. You are too small to talk to the leader of Iraq, and those who will be swept away from the land of the Arab world are people like you. You are a minion and a lackey.
- Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, replying to Prince Saud, New York Times, April 2, 2003. [Note: Ramadan was captured August 20)

Before [a new Federal Communications Commission rule] even becomes effective, it's going to go to an appeals court as fast as the minion at a large firm can haul the paperwork over.
- Natalie Billingsly, quoted by Michael Bazeley, FCC Releases New Rules on Telecom, San Jose (California) Mercury News, Aug. 22, 2003
 
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Did you know there's a place in Cornwall called Minions?
 
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Do tell, Ros? Details? Smile

ablution – the act of washing oneself (or another person), typically as part of a religious rite.
(Typically used in the plural, as in performed his ablutions.)
The Christian practices of baptism and foot-washing are instances of ablution.

Gilbert strained this word a bit, to make a rhyme for "Executioner".
quote:
Young man, despair,
Likewise go to,
Yum-Yum the fair
You must not woo.
It will not do:
I'm sorry for you,
You very imperfect ablutioner!
This very day
From school Yum-Yum
Will wend her way,
And homeward come,
With beat of drum
And a rum-tum-tum,
To wed the Lord High Executioner!
 
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Unfortunately that's all I know! I spotted it while on holiday in Cornwall recently. However, a quick web search reveals that they have their own website

Apparently the name comes from Minions Mound, which is a nearby barrow. Possibly one in which minions were buried?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by haberdasher:
Gilbert strained this word a bit, to make a rhyme for "Executioner".



From Ruddigore: "It gets worse -- by degrees!"

Continuing Pooh-Bah's song:

It's a hopeless case
As you may see,
And in your place
Away I'd flee
But don't blame me,
I'm sorry to be
Of your pleasure a diminutioner!

They'll vow their pact extremely soon,
In point of fact this afternoon.
Her honeymoon with that buffoon
As seven commences, so you shun her!

(And the brass will crash,
And the trumpets bray,
And they'll cut a dash on their wedding day!
She'll toddle away, as all aver,
With the Lord High Executioner.)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ros:
Apparently the name comes from Minions Mound, which is a nearby barrow. Possibly one in which minions were buried?
I could find only a site which says, "For more information on Minions please visit there[Frown] own web site at" the link Ros supplied.
 
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condign – deserved; adequate (especially of punishment); suitable to the fault or crime.
quote:
However, if in a few weeks Davis seems a certain loser, muscular Democratic interests ... might successfully pressure him to resign. [Democratic] Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who is a candidate to succeed him, would become governor, the recall would deflate and the Democratic Party's condign punishment probably would be to continue wrestling with the problems it has created or exacerbated.
– George F. Will, Recall and Ruin, Washington Post, August 12, 2003
 
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tocsin – the ringing of an alarm bell (or the bell itself); extended, an alarm
quote:
Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies.
- 1791 by Olympe de Gouges, a butcher's daughter and French Revolutionary. These words open her Declaration of the Rights of Women, challenging the inferiority presumed of women by the famed Declaration of the Rights of Man. For pushing such ideas she was convicted of treason against the Revolution, and was executed on the guillotine.

When relations with Great Britain disintegrated once again, Pinkney sounded the tocsin in fiery pamphlets, led a battalion of riflemen in the War of 1812, and suffered a near-fatal wound at the battle of Bladensburg.
- Stephen M. Shapiro, William Pinkney: The Supreme Court's Greatest Advocate, Supreme Court Historical Society, 1988 Yearbook
 
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effulgent – shining brilliantly; resplendent; or as if shining
quote:
The sun, whose rays are all ablaze with ever-living glory,
Does not deny his majesty -- he scorns to tell a story!
He don't exclaim, "I blush for shame, so kindly be indulgent."
But, fierce and bold, in fiery gold, he glories all effulgent!
- Mikado

The musical excellence of the Vienna Philharmonic is so evident that you tend to discount potential weaknesses. One of them is contemporary music. ... its plush tone, so ideally suited to smooth and sleek Classical works or rich and effulgent Romantic ones, can lack a needed sarcasm, bite, harshness or angularity.
James R. Oestreich, New York Times, Aug. 9, 2003
 
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pooh-bah - a pompous ostentatious official, especially one who, holding many offices, fulfills none of them

After the character Pooh-Bah in The Mikado, whom we quoted above as saying, "It is consequently my degrading duty to serve this upstart... . And at a salary! A Pooh-Bah paid for his services! I a salaried minion! But I do it! It revolts me, but I do it!"

quote:
The letter was asking for financial support of The Republican, a newspaper published by Roland Wetzel, grand pooh-bah of the Grand Old Party¹ in this county.
- columnist John Sonderegger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 29, 2003

¹Note to non-USA readers: "Grand Old Party", or GOP, is a name for the Republican Party in US politics.
 
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quote:
effulgent – shining brilliantly; resplendent; or as if shining


The moment I saw this word, I thought of something that I'm sure not one person here watches. It's a little tv show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Just hear me out ya'll.

On this show there is a very tough dangerous vampire named Spike a.k.a William the Bloody ( named thusly because he tortured early victims with a railroad spike). In an episode entitled Fool for Love, we learn that the pre-vampire guy was a bit of a sensitive, foppish mama's boy. When we meet his character, he is attempting to write a love poem at a party.

SPIKE
(to himself)
Luminous... oh, no, no, no. Irradiant's better.
WAITER approaches and holds out a tray.
WAITER
Care for an hors d'oeuvre, sir?
SPIKE
Oh, quickly! I'm the very spirit of vexation. What's another word for "gleaming"? It's a perfectly perfect word as many words go but the bother is nothing rhymes, you see.

He scribbles some more, and his sad little poem is snatched from his hand by another partygoer.

***
The third aristocrat snatches the poem from Spike's hands.
ARISTOCRAT #3
I see. Well, don't withhold, William.
ARISTOCRAT #1
Rescue us from a dreary topic.
SPIKE
(to Aristocrat #3)
Careful. The inks are still wet. Please, it's not finished.
ARISTOCRAT #3
Don't be shy. (reads) "My heart expands/'tis grown a bulge in it/inspired by your beauty, effulgent." (laughs) Effulgent?

Then several partygoers laugh derisively, saying he's called "William the Bloody" because of his 'bloody awful poetry' and how they'd rather have a railroad spike thru the head than read his work.

Heh. Effulgent.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Ya'll talk about Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare and I'm talking about Buffy. <sigh>
 
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quote:
Originally posted by WinterBranch:
[Yeah, yeah, I know. Ya'll talk about Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare and I'm talking about Buffy [the Vampire Slayer]. <sigh>
Don't apologize. BuffytVS is known as having great interest in language issues.

Indeed, Verbatim Magazine, which is edited by the Midwest (US) regional editor of OED, published an article on that aspect of the show. (Unfortunately, Verbatim's website is terrible.) Excerpt:
quote:
Evidence already quoted proves that the English language often occupies the writers’ minds, and thus it often occupies the characters’ minds, as well. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an especially language-conscious television show. The characters are
  • backhanded definers ("Man, that’s like, I don’t know, that’s moxie, or something.");
  • bemused grammarians (in one episode, Willow struggles to determine whether one should say "slayed" or "slew"),
  • amateur etymologists ("'The whole nine yards'–what does it mean? This is going to bother me all day."); or
  • self-conscious stylists ("Again, so many words. Couldn’t we just say, 'We be in trouble? . . . Gone.' Notice the economy of phrasing: 'Gone.' Simple, direct.")

 
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WB's note of "effulgent" in pop "culture" brings to recall a bit of dialogue in some stupid recent movie in which squads of high-school cheerleaders compete for a national cheerleading championship. A team captain issues a pep-talk to her team, minutes before its crucial performance:
quote:
Captain: And remember, the judges want to see alacrity and effulgence.
Dumb blonde (wide-eyed): Oh! Did we bring them with us? Eek
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ros:
Unfortunately that's all I know! I spotted it while on holiday in Cornwall recently. However, a quick web search reveals that they have http://www.minions-cornwall.co.uk/

Apparently the name comes from Minions Mound, which is a nearby barrow. Possibly one in which minions were buried?


I'd doubt it. The Cornish language has been anglicized quite heavily.

Take "Mousehole", for instance, in Cornish it's Mowzal.

Perhaps originally it's "Menhirs Mound", or starts with "men" as that's Cornish for standing stone, as in Men Scryfa (the written stone) or Menheniot.

Ah. Cornwall Online says that the name came from the standing stones, called The Hurlers.
 
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Originally re-quoted by Wordnerd

quote:
:

Captain: And remember, the judges want to see alacrity and effulgence.
Dumb blonde (wide-eyed): Oh! Did we bring them with us? :eek


This brings to mind the rape-trial scene in a novel (Bonfire of the Vanities (?))

quote:
Defense Attorney: Did the rapist have an orgasm?

Blonde Plaintiff: No, he had a custom Continental. Eek Eek
 
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