Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Word

Numinous.  I like its definition, though I'm not sold yet on its aesthetic/auditory appeal. I probably need to hear it in more sentences before I can fully embrace it. 

I do like numen in both contexts, though, both aesthetically and semantically. 


Logan said...

I like how numen—numinous is reminiscent of omen-ominous. Because that's how it feels when you stumble upon a place inhabited by a numen.

Newt said...

I like that!

Hm. I guess when it comes down to it I just don't really like how it sounds like luminous.

Anonymous said...

Numinous, I like how it sounds. According to the definition, the word itself is originally Latin, as oppose to the meaning or the concept it names. So, scouring through my rudimentary Latin vocabulary. Ok, Not quite Latin, but Spanish and it isn't rudimentary rather dense with seminatic nouns, but close enough for all intents and purposes. Spanish is one of the Romance languages, after all. One of those lucky few that is anointed with the history, colorfulness, and culture remnants of the Greco-Roman tradition. So, pronouncing the word numinous has me thinking of the Spanish equivalent. Numinoso, numinario, which both allude to a bright light. It does sound like luminous, which is luminoso in Spanish. Which alludes to illuminar or illuminario, which means to brighten with a light. I've always found it easier to learn a new word by finding a similar one in Spanish. Just like English, according to the people who know this stuff, is a merger of French and English, apparently, the English monarchy, back in the day spoke French, instead of the vernacular, English; thus, many French words, which entail Latin derivatives, being itself one of the Romance or from Rome languages, surface in English. Needless to say, etymological study of any particular word would take you back in history. I remember reading that the word 'risk' comes from an Arabic word--something like rikh--which means property or home. It's really amazing how a language doesn't grow in a vacuum but rather borrows from other language creating a thread across time and peoples.

What a coincidence, I opened my copy of Jorge Luis Borger's book on dreams "Libro de Sunos" an skimmed the pages to see if I could find the word. And bingo, on his poem "La Cierva Blanca" on the ninth line:---Los *numenes* que rigen este curiose mundo.--- Wow, the cadence achieved by that one line and the word,numenes, fits perfectly. My rough translation: The numen that prowl this curious world. Of course, it doesn't do the line justice. But there it is, the word, within context.

There is a myriad of words to describe the mystery of reality. In the Spanish language you can't go too far without invoking some kind of randomness or namely, a deity. Similarly, French, Italian, Portuguese, and so on. Probably keeps the subconscious of the culture humble and faithful. The languages invoke a mystery, actually all languages cry out for some unknown, I'm just more aware of the 'Western Tradition". Although I'm intrigue by the Orient. The spontaneous emergence of language in all cultures and peoples really leaves me in awe. I'm not a nihilist or existentialist. I think there is an innumerable more we don't know thus we have to trust, trust the ineffable....and be humble by the improbability of our own existence.


Stella said...

I've been liking the word "garbanzo" today, but I think it's because I am craving some hummus again!

Newt said...

Stella - ha ha ha. I love it!

David - Interesting thoughts. I especially love your last sentence "I think there is an innumerable more we don't know thus we have to trust, trust the ineffable....and be humble by the improbability of our own existence."