Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chortle

The best thing about having a blog, so far (two days!), is that people actually respond to what I post. It seems to me that writing is usually a very solitary endeavor and I am not a very solitary person. So, while I like to write, I miss the camaraderie of people while I do it. Thanks for the comments and keep them coming!

I was going out for a glass of wine with some friends after Somer’s play last night, when one of my friends used the word "chortle." I can’t even remember why she used it; something made her "chortle," but I can’t remember what it was. I got a little giddy when I heard Mary say, "chortle," and completely lost track of what she was trying to say. Lesson to self: Do not let an interesting word distract from an interesting story.

Anyway, thanks to my niece Emily’s comment on my first blog entry (in which she offers "chortle" as a good word), I have been thinking about the word "chortle" for the past couple of days. I knew the word, but until I read her comment, I knew nothing of its origin. I did a little research on my own to confirm that the word "chortle" was coined by Lewis Carroll in either Jabberwocky or Through the Looking Glass. I guess I would have to read both the poem and the story to know for sure where it was first used. Either way, it is a combination of the words snort and chuckle, meaning a gleeful chuckle or to utter with glee. This fanciful, TomKat-Brangelina type of word has been around for more than 130 years and is still in common use today. I may be lame, but I find that interesting.

As it turns out there was a "chortle"-worthy moment in my daughter’s second scene last night. I am no serious student of Shakespeare, but I do know that his plays all contain both highbrow and lowbrow entertainment. The wealthy, erudite Englishmen once sat in tiered seats in a semicircle facing the stage at the Globe Theatre in London; while the English commoners stood in the dirt in an open space between the seats and the stage. The two groups were both entertained by the performance, but not necessarily by the same things.

In Act 1, Scene 3 of MacBeth, the three witches have gathered. These are the same witches who later chant, “Double, double, toil and trouble...” and who later predict MacBeth’s ascendancy to the throne. The third witch in last night’s performance was my daughter, Somer. In this particular scene, the first witch complains that a sailor’s wife would not share her chestnuts with her, so the first witch is making plans to sail to the husband in a kitchen strainer, turn herself into a tailless rat, and “do things to him--”

I am sure Shakespeare’s commoners got a chuckle out of the bawdy notion of the old hag “doing things” to the sailor, but the real "chortle" actually comes next, when the other two witches offer “to give some wind” to the first witch to help her sail. This is lowbrow, bathroom humor and the “wind” being offered is actually expelled gas. In other words, I got to "chortle" with the commoners as my daughter pretended to fart on stage.

1 comment:

Shmika said...

Oh mother... such an erudite, (like my use of a vocab word?). You are the ultimate English nerd, but I'm glad you've found a place to express yourself. Keep it up! - SMD