A logophile’s self-interview


By Amlan Chakraborty


“And so the conversation slips 

 Among velleities and carefully caught regrets…” ~ TS Eliot (Portrait of a Lady)


Q: Get out of bed. We agreed on this interview at 10 and I got other fishes to fry.

A: Sorry, you got to make do with these circumstances. Shoot.


Q: Well, are you a logophile?

A: Don’t know, but I got a list of favourite words, including ‘Clinomania’, pinned to the board behind my desktop.


Q: I see ‘Velleity’ there – ‘A wish or inclination not strong enough to lead to action.’ Do you really love it?

A: I can marry it and raise a family together in a quiet suburb.


Q: Hmm. An early 17th century word which had to wait nearly four centuries until you guys said ‘hello’ to each other. Why not something more glam, like ‘iridiscent’? Or the crisp ‘lilt’ or even the musical ‘onomatopoeia’?

A: They don’t talk to me like ‘Velleity’ does.


Q: Really?

A: It not only talks to me, it even sends text messages after we’ve hung up.


Q: Aha!

A: I’m indebted to Eliot for introducing the word to me, that too some 40 years after his death. Just like I’m indebted to Tendulkar for ‘tennis elbow’ and Vishy Anand for ‘ELO ratings’.


Q: Anything else?

A: ‘Velleity’ speaks of the world’s greatest tragedy – of ideas that never materialised, of dreams that never came true, of imaginations that fell short of reality. It speaks of a betrayal, of insincerity and of inertia. Of human follies, in other words.


Q: Go on…

A: ‘Velleity’ also fulfills the strict criteria I have for my favourite words — can’t be too long, must soothe my ear and should roll nicely off the tongue.


Q: Guess defines you too? Probably embarrasses you as well?

A: That’s below the belt, somewhere around the ankle to be precise. Goodbye. (turns)


Q: Hang on, what is ‘Clinomania’?

A: (Yawns) ‘Excessive desire to remain in bed’. (pulls blanket over head).




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