Sunday, January 6, 2019

Real Words or Confabulation

Harvel?  Havel? Hevel? Dirk? Denf?

I have become somewhat addicted to the word game where you are given 6 letters and then have to fill in a loose crossword grid with words made from those letters. I do not consider myself a brilliant linguist. However I find the game more than challenging when the completed puzzle reveals “words” I am not familiar with. 

Always wanting to further my education, I noted some of these unrecognizable groupings of letters and sought the wisdom of the Oxford Dictionary. I was even more perplexed with what I found.

An example is “Havel”. My first find was that  हवाल or पुल्लिंग  are both transliterated versions of "Haval". Transliterated? Further searching found "Havel" is 'a cryptographic hash function'. Then I stumbled across yet another definition. It comes from the phrase “haval al hazman” translated into 'it's a waste of time'.  Now that I can understand - a total waste of my time. Of course in the next snippet, it read: '. . . in more recent use, “haval al hazman” has morphed into a slang phrase meaning pretty much the opposite.'  Naturally.

"Hevel" means 'breath that's already been spent' —so you could call it a 'waste of breath'. 

A search for "Harvel" reveals: 'Sorry, no definitions found.' Figures!  

Hayne? A popular name of an old line family from the south. But a common noun, verb, adjective, adverb, gerund? Not so much. 

OK, so in the same puzzle of 10 words, one is cryptographic, one has two (totally opposing) definitions,  a third is a waste of time, another a proper noun, and one word that does not exist. 

In another puzzle was “Dirk” -'a short dagger of a kind formerly carried by Scottish Highlanders'. Sure I knew that - an obscure Celtic weapon. Did Braveheart carry a dirk? If so, I missed the reference.

Then there was "Pirt". Buried in the bowels of Google I found 'Pirt, also known as a trip, consists of a group of friends journeying about the countryside smoking large amounts of marijuana.' I don’t remember Mrs. McCloud including "Pirt" on any of my weekly spelling lists in 2nd grade

"Pakea"? A white New Zealander, as opposed to a Maori.

Or "Garg"? Seriously, 'A Garg is a very ugly man'. And I could only find that in the Urban Dictionary.

"Quarzy", a dream word for any scrabble player. Aha! Cannot be found in any dictionary or even on Google. 

Better than that, there was the occasion where I was given 6 letters, including a "q" but, alas, no "u". The only example of a word with a "q" but no "u", I know of is QWERTY, as in the type of keyboard.  But there was no "W", "E", "R', "T", "Y" in the 6 letters of the "Q, P, A, M, K, F," I was given? Come up with a 4 letter word from that set. The puzzle writers did -"Pamk". Not to be found in a dictionary.  Or "Kap" - an abnormal tufted growth of small branches on a tree or shrub caused by fungi or insects or other physiological disturbance. "Kamp", of course . . . 'Dutch for in the heat of battle'.  I knew that, doesn't everyone?

So I have developed a strategy for this game. I simply throw random letters into the blocks and hope they stick. That is much easier than actually trying to come up with a "real" word. The answers to these puzzles are more of a confabulation (the replacement of a gap in a person's memory by a falsification that he or she believes to be true). But that would take 13 letters.

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