Posted by: Sally Ingraham | November 15, 2010


Cinoc read slowly and copied down rare words; gradually his plan began to take shape, and he decided to compile a great dictionary of forgotten words, not in order to perpetuate the memory of the Akka, a black-skinned pigmy people of Central Africa, or of Jean Gigoux, a historical painter, or of Henri Romagnesi, a composer of romances, 1781-1851, nor to prolong the life of the scolecobrot, a tetramerous coleopter of the longicorn family, Cerembycid branch, but so as to rescue simple words which still appealed to him.
– from Life A User’s Manual by Georges Perec (trans. by David Bellos) p. 329

Thanks goodness I never bother to pull my sticky notes out of books that belong to me after I’ve finished reading them! Clearly marked “Cinoc’s dictionary”, this salmon-pink page marker among its 30 siblings was easy to turn to. My only difficulty was finding the book itself and digging it out of my 8+ book boxes, still stacked sadly in a corner of my new bedroom…

I came across the Save the Words project from Oxford University Press/The Oxford English Dictionary a few days ago and since then I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Cinoc and his dictionary. Save the Words encourages participants to adopt a word that is in danger of going extinct, and reintroduce it into their conversation and written communication. I can get behind that, and I think Cinoc would approve.

I have adopted the word “murklins”, which means in the dark. As in: I’m sitting here murklins, cursing daylight savings time and dreaming about what kind of lamp I will buy for my computer desk…and also what kind of computer desk. I have the feeling that this will not be the only nearly obsolete word that I adopt – I may not gather eight thousand of them, as Cinoc did, but perhaps eight new words a year is a good goal… 🙂


  1. I love the Save the Words site! I adopted “prandicle,” which means “small meal,” and is actually a really useful word! David and I have taken to using it all the time, as in “Are you hungry for lunch?” “Uh, not for a full meal, but I could go for a prandicle.”

    • Haha, that’s awesome! 🙂

  2. I love this! and I love ‘murklins’ and shall endeavor to use it. we love words, especially odd or underused ones (we found quite a few lately reading Tolkien). Will have to check out the Save the Words Site.

    I like your goal, and I think I will join you.

    • Excellent! I used “murklins” for the first time in actual converstation this morning and felt really good about it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: