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    • Join Date: Feb 2006
    • Posts: 5

    Will Self tricks the dictionary!


    I'm reading Will Self's collection of short stories Though Tough Toys for Tough Tough Boys and I'm quite amazed how rich his vocabulary is.
    Even my dictionary and the main online dictionaries can't help sometimes as in these two passages:

    Jonathan tripped on down the main street. His socks had peristalsized themselves down into the ungy, sweaty interior of his boots. He passed flint-knapped houses kneeling behind low walls.

    And there were the flies. Jonathan didn't think of himself as sqeamish or phobic about insects, but this long, hot summer had brought the six-legged kine out in force.
    Do you have any idea about the meaning of the words and expressions of the bold words?

    thank you

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
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      • Home Country:
      • England
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    • Join Date: Feb 2005
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    Re: Will Self tricks the dictionary!

    Hello pimpoumvlan

    1. Jonathan tripped on down the main street.] Jonathan walked along the main street in a light-footed, good-humoured way. To "trip" is to dance or to skip. Thus in Milton we find: "Come, and trip it as ye go/On the light fantastic toe".

    2. His socks had peristalsized themselves] When you swallow a dry piece of food, the regular muscular movements of your throat as you force it down into your stomach constitute "peristalsis". In Self's fanciful phrase, the movement of the socks as they gradually slip down the calf towards the foot are likened to those convulsive movements. It's not an entirely accurate metaphor, as peristalsis usually forces "something else" through a hollow muscular tube; whereas in this instance, it's as if the tube itself has concertina'd.

    3. the ungy, sweaty interior of his boots. ] I take "ungy" to be a Self-made word; meaning "gungy", "unlovely", "malodorous" ("humming").

    4. the six-legged kine out in force. ] "Kine" is an obsolete plural that means "cows". Here, the insects are likened whimsically to a herd of cows.


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