More Words Beginning with "K" II
Bill Long 10/26/08
The words I have time/space/interest to describe here are: Kayserzinn, kakerlak, katun, keerdrag, kenlore, kenning, kerchunk/kerslosh/kerswosh, knackery, kunstlied, kynurenic, kyriolexy. Since the previous essay was so "serious," let's begin with a little fun.
1, 2, and 3. I have put kerchunk, kerslosh, and kerswosh together, because the OED gives a non-exhaustive list of 11 "ker" words that really mean the same thing: "the first element (ker) [is] in numerous onomatopoeic or echoic formations intended to imitate the sound or the effect of the fall of some heavy body." I actually found some of the quotations given in the OED, which list other words, to be quite humorous. "Ca-smash went the chair." "Kerslosh he went into a tub of water." "We drew up co-wallop right afore Jase's house." "And the fust thingyou knows he falls and down he comes kerflumix." And from Huckleberry Finn: "Jes' den, 'long come de wind en slam in to, behine de chile, ker-blam!" Enough said. Enjoy--and make up your own..
4. A Kunstlied is a German "art song," to be distinguished from a more "popular" or "folk" song (Volkslied). I don't know if the distinction is very helpful to English-speakers today, but if some people like to try to show off with French-related words, why can't we do so with German words--only on occasion, of course.
5. I am so glad I read the web page cited last essay because I didn't know kakerlak. The OED lists the first spelling as kakkerlak, and gives its first definition as the "cockroach." Kakkerlak/kakerlak is derived from the Dutch word, but the OED says it also believed to be of S. American origin. How does that work? Well, the second definition of kakkerlak is the Dutch name for an albino in Java---colonized by the Dutch. We have this racist comment from 1777: "The Kackerlakes are a degenerate breed, not a separate class of men." Thus, we can now see the connection between kakkerlak and albino. The cockroach family, just in case you wanted a foster placement, is the Blattidae (only one of the families; blatta is Latin for "cockroach")...
6. Kayserzinn is a type of German art nouveau metalwork flourishing from aobut 1895-1925. This web site, with pictures, explains it this way: "Kayserzinn was made by one of the most successful firms that produced art nouveau pewterware around the 1900's, the family run factory 'J.P Kayser Sohn." Englbert Kayser set up a design workshop that supplied these designs in 1894. Great.
7. Let's also dispatch of kyriolexy quickly. The Century has the word, derived from "authoritative" and "speaking," as: "the use of literal as opposed to figurative expressions, or of words in clear and definite senses." The OED gives no help. I don't see why the word should mean what the dictionaries say it means. Sorry I even exhumed the word.
8. Kynurenic is derived from the two Greek word kuon (dog) and ouron (urine). It never appears by itself but always as "kyrenuric acid," a crystalling carboxylic acid C10H7NO3, that results from the metabolism of tryptophan and is excreted in the urine of humans and various animals. It was so named by the German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1853 becuase it was first discovered in dog urine.
9. Kenlore is certainly one of the most useful of all these words. Neither the OED nor the Century has the term, but I found it in several philosophical and educational works from 1900-1910. In these works, kenlore is equated with epistemology--i.e., the study of what we know. In the Monist (1910), we have this sentence:
"Epistemology is one of the most ponderous words in the English language, but it can easily be replaced by the simple Saxon term 'kenlore,' which describes the process of cognition and would thereby explain how things come within the range of our ken..."
I don't think there really can be any real philosophy of knowledge. We know that we learn; that we have our own methods of leanring and, to some extent, that the world looks slightly different to each one of us because of how we view it. Too bad the word kenlore didn't catch on, because it has a much more "practical-sounding" feel to it than epistemology.
10. Katun is a Mayan term meaning a period of twenty years, each with 360 days. As is so often the case, the first attestation in English brings us even more words. From 1902: "Moreover, in A3 we find the Katun sign with the number 1, which may be a declaration that the date is in a first Katun or beginning Katun, for I can see no reason why the beginning Cycle, Katun, Tun, Uinal, and Kin should not have been called the first..." No time here to look at the Mayan calendar--some day...
11. A keerdrag is a form of drag-net having a very small mesh towards the end, used by zoologists for collecting small fishes and other marine animals. There are fewer than ten Google references to this, but this small article from Yarrell's 1836 "A History of British Fishes," has a picture, too. I love the description: "The net tapers posteriorly for 7-8 feet to a round opening. Mesh sizes decrease posteriorly." Thankfully the mesh is in "sync" with the net...
I have knackery and kenning to go, but these will have to await a new day...