Each word, once; by Jordi Punti

I’ve been reading for a few days ‘yes’ (Arcàdia), the essay of Adria Pujol Cruells which offers a series of “speculations on language and literature & rdquor ;. It is a fun, playful, scathing, polyphonic and at times garrulous book. Like a contract between author and reader, it is one of those texts in which you have to read the small print because that is where the crux lies: the footnotes —and the notes to the notes, and the notes to the notes to the notes. Very early on, between the meanders of the digression, Pujol Cruells outlines a kind of poetics of his literary gesture (I translate): “I have dreamed of writing every Catalan word at least once”, he says, and continues: “I try to make them live, so that they don’t sound completely strange no matter how much they have been under the dust of the dictionary for a hundred years, in the local cacophonies or in the ditches of Francoism & rdquor ;. It is a beautiful and somewhat melancholy idea, but without the drama of those writers who during Franco’s regime wrote —right or wrong— “to save words”.

Related news

This cosmic illusion of encompassing all words brings me back to a reflection that I sometimes make about oral language: there are words that no one ever says, not even by chance, and I am not just referring to cultisms or technicalities, and maybe they will pass weeks and months until someone pronounces them a tenth of a second. It is something impossible to verify, of course, and this silence is shared by all languages, but as Catalan always lives on a tightrope —I fall, I don’t fall—and without the safety net of a protective state below, the feeling is that there are words that will soon be extinct, like the last specimen of a Javan rhinoceros.

That’s why, I tell myself, games like ‘Paraulògic’ or even crossword puzzles are so funny, because from their playful and arbitrary nature they force you to say and perhaps learn words that you never expected to know. I recently learned the meaning of ‘pec’, ‘rerecor’ or the expression ‘fer fugina’ (an old way of saying “play hooky” in Catalan). Outside the dictionary, each word can be a lure for memory: treasures of the language that in someone else’s hands would be trinkets, are valuable to you for various reasons, such as the way or the moment you met them. I remember the day a teacher told me the history lesson behind the sporting cliché of the “pyrrhic victory & rdquor; (when the triumph also entails great losses, as Plutarch narrates what happened to King Pirros before the Roman army). Or when a poem by Carlos Barral made me see that the verb ‘withdraw’ in Catalan becomes ‘entotsolar-se’, and in German it becomes more physical, ‘in sichgehen’, that is: “go within oneself” , reflect. Or the day someone told me that I could be wayward and dilettante and I thought that thus, together, the two words be became a compliment. And now that I say it, I realize that the essay by Adrià Pujol Cruells can also be read because it is wayward, and dilettante, and at times it even leads you to become self-absorbed.

Leave a Comment