Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday

When I finish swimming my laps I like to laze for half an hour or so by the edge of the pool. (It's so nice that the boys are now old enough that I can do this several times a week quite easily!)

Over the past couple of months my poolside read has been Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma.

As many of you know, Michael Pollan et al, Slow Food, eating ethically and the philosophy of food are interests of mine.

This blog was started, in part, to cater for this interest/obsession. (Food, philosophy and photography should be my byline!)

There are so many ideas, provocations and insights into the way we eat food in The Omnivore's Dilemma that I will be digesting them for years to come!

But for now....a few troubling words.

1. Plein-air

"It's not hard to see how a plein-air abattoir like this might give a USDA inspector conniptions."

Definition courtesy of wikipedia: En plein air is a French expression which means "in the open air", and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.

2. Encomiums

"I could have filled a notebook with the encomiums."

Encomium is a Latin noun derived the Classical Greek meaning a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly.
3. Inchoate

"all this suggested that for many of these people spending a little more for a dozen eggs was a decision inflected by politics, however tentative or inchoate."

I have a rough idea about the meaning of this one from it's context (inarticulated?), but I've always wanted to know how to pronounce it.

Isn't google wonderful? has an audio button so you can hear any word pronounced as well as defining the word for you.

So we pronounce it: "In-co-et"

And it means:
Adj: 1. not yet completed or fully developed; rudimentary.
        2. just begun; incipient.
        3. not organized; lacking order

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a lovely meme hosted by Bermuda Onion each week to highlight new (to us) words that we come across in our daily reading.


  1. Welcome to the marvellous word of wondrous words Brona! En plein-air was already familiar to me, from my basic knowledge of French, and passing familiarity with art. Inchoate is one that I'm sure I've included in a previous Wednesday, but it's meaning has never stuck. Encomium is new to me, but I just keep seeing meconium, it's a bit distracting...It's a wonderful notion you reading this poolside after doing your laps. I must admit I would have probably picked something a bit more beach read... I hope you'll do a post on the book itself.

    1. Curiously non-fiction work better for me poolside after doing laps. I keep the book in my swim bag and it doesn't matter too much if it ends up being a week between swims.
      Poolside, at a resort, with a cocktail in hand, is another matter entirely for reading matter :-D

  2. Thanks for the link to the pronunciation of inchoate - I'm glad it's not a word I use because I've been pronouncing it wrong in my head all this time.

  3. I hope to be in the Plein-air soon as we get closer to Spring.

    1. When I first saw the word, I thought it was a spelling mistake for 'clean air'!

  4. Brona, a good friend has just recommended this book to me. She's fanatically attacking any high fructose corn syrup that dares to enter her house. Great words, and yes, the audio buttons online are awesome. I, like you, had a guess about inchoate, but I needed a little clarity. Thanks!

    1. Ahhh don't get me started on HFCS! I've also just bought a book called 'I Quit Sugar' by an Australian 'media personality' Sarah Wilson (I use inverted comma's because I had never heard of her before).
      I suspect there will be more about it on here in the not too distant future.

  5. Hi Brona,

    Thanks for stopping by Fiction Books today. I love 'meeting' new people, so your visits will always be welcome and your comments appreciated.

    The only one of your words this week which I didn't know is 'ecomiums' and that's a word that I really want to be able to drop casually into a conversation and see what happens!!

    Like most of your other commenters, I too have been pronouncing inchoate incorrectly all this time.

    I am not sure about the book either after reading the synopsis on Amazon. I get really worried when someone starts following the food chain from source to table, as if we knew what happened to anything we eat (whether it be something which is purported to be good for us or otherwise) on its way to our plate, we would all probably be stick thin and surviving on a diet of pills!! I think I would probably rather not know too much ... life's too short!!


    1. Actually Pollan's argument is that by knowing the various ways that food can be grown, produced and marketed we can make considered choices about what is best for our health, our tastes and our budgets.

  6. I read this book a few years ago (really liked it) but I do not remember those new-to-me words. Glad you joined in today.


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