“Dunandunate” – (v) to learn a word and use it incessantly
I only learnt this word recently and have been dunandunating all over the place ever since. Case in point. The reason I’d never heard of it before is because it was rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary and permanently resides in a secret vault deemed as ‘non-words’ for every day activities. I feel the need to present an argument for why this word and other ‘non-words’ are relevant and should be released from their lexical prison. Most of the words I use in this blog deliberately invoke a sense of ‘melancholy’ and as such I can’t help but try and worm the word ‘melancholy’ in between sentences like a Spaniard might sneak jamon into a sandwich. My housemates have set up a word jar in our house. It’s like a swear jar except I have to deposit a pound into it every time I use words synonymous with ‘melancholy’ or ‘lament’ or ‘obscure’. Similarly, I have learnt many new words since starting this project and find myself actually steering conversations in a particular direction whereby I can casually drop one of my newly learnt words. Like casting a line into a river of fish, I’m always at the ready to reel people in with my charming wordplay. Sure enough, thirty minutes and twelve death stares from my housemates later I find myself £12 poorer. So how can dunandunate not apply to my life when the very root of it is robbing me blind?
Sure, we roll our eyes when we catch people dunandunate. Nobody needs to use words like ‘facetious’ or ‘esoteric’ 25 times in one draw of breath. However, it does remind me of a phenomenon call the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon”. A complex also known as the “frequency illusion” where a thing (or in this case a word) you just found out about suddenly seems to crop up everywhere. In books you read, in advertising, used by friends and strangers alike. Stumped, you think, how is it that I’ve never noticed this word before? I remember when I was probably about 5 years old I learnt the meaning of ‘pregnant’ for the first time. Suddenly, I was seeing pregnant women everywhere – the neighbour next door, my friend’s mum, my teacher – it was like a magic veil had dropped on the city overnight and all the women woke up pregnant. What did I think they were hiding underneath their bulging clothes, a basketball?
Among the hundreds of words that lay dormant in this secret vault, are also “wurfing” meaning to surf the internet at work and “polkadodge”, which describes the strange little dance two passing people do to avoid each other but move in the same direction. Given the fact that I spend about 85% of the day surfing the internet at work and have the coordination of a baby goat, not even I would be pretentious enough to call these words ‘obscure’ I would call them ‘necessary’.
Dammit, that’s going to cost me a pound…