Tuesday, May 8, 2012

At Least It Rhymes With Something

My father tells a series of stories about a fictional family -- Mom and Dad (presumably so christened) and their three children: Timmy, Caroline, and Angela (their last name is never revealed). Many of the stories share common elements such as Angela getting lost, drawn-out and/or complicated adventures, and the one that is relevant to this post: the breakfast nook. Each story begins with the family beginning their day together by eating breakfast in this cozy roomlet.

So now you know what I think of when I hear tell of the Nook.

The Kindle Fire you have heard me speak of; concerning the Nook heretofore I have maintained silence. But no more. Please stop reading now if you do not wish to hear

The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of 
the wind
concerning what may be to some (I know not) a Sensitive Subject. If, like Rodolfo you can truthfully say Non sono in vena, then I cannot guarantee you will not miss out on your first meeting with the Mimì you have sought for I know not how long.


What is the Nook? Is it a self-contained encapsulating Reading-space? Is it a New Book? (It wouldn't be the first instance of Word-smushing.) Is it a derivatively-titled product of Narnes and Boble? It could, for all I know, be any of these things. Or all of them. But at least it does not insult the medium it mimics by being named after that medium's worst enemy. Nook to me connotes "curling up with a good e-book" in a Small Space, which is all right, I admit. Much better than it could be, certainly.

However, a less constricting/claustrophobic name would be Liber. This name would be handy, because it can mean two different things: 1) book and 2) freedom. Everyone has really really really liked Freedom since  about the 18th century, and there has been a general preference for books since long before that. The two things have even at times been connected in various ways. Now comes the opportunity to really put this connection into noomenclatural practice. And it doesn't appear to restrict reading of Barnes and Noble e-books to confined (albeit cozy) spaces either.

I admit that Liber is also one of the names for the god Bacchus, or Dionysus. This may not be as welcome to certain segments of the terrestrial population. He has, in truth, also enjoyed a spike in his stats since, say, the time of Nietzsche, although he was not really ever out of vogue. I don't specifically approve of his name being applied to an e-reader, but as long as it is an unintended side effect, I think we can prudently call into play the principle of Double Effect. Don't you?

Note 1: Mom and Dad's next-door neighbors are named (in British accents) Mother and Father. The R's must be left off; no rhoticism for these folks. Their children's names are Bertha and Humbert, similarly R-less.

Note 2: Perhaps you have heard of the choral group Libera. I have often wondered about the grammar of their name. Is it an imperative? A singular adjective? A plural one? Who knows? (Perhaps it is a made up form, like J. K. Rowling's "Imperius.") Any guesses would be welcome.


  1. I vote, and not at all confidently, for a neuter plural substantive. Either "free things" (which of course it makes no sense), or else a sort of made-up neuter form of the noun for "child" (an M.O. not completely unattested in classical poetry). I suppose that it's the recollections of Alessandro Moreschi that led me to this conjecture -- a conjecture, I should add, which, now that I see it written out, I entirely disown.

    Someone ought to send a query to the choir about its name.

  2. I emailed them, and I will post their answer when the time comes.