Sunday, February 28 2010

Definitions that don’t help…

I was looking up a Japanese word. I knew what it meant. I knew how it had been formed from the parent word. I knew the writer had used it correctly. It just wasn’t in my usual dictionaries, and I wanted to see if there was some nuance to the usage that wasn’t obvious from the construction.

The word was 偉大さ (“idaisa”). Idai by itself is in most dictionaries. As a noun, it means greatness, mightiness, grandeur; as a -na adjective, great, mighty, grand. The -sa ending converts adjectives to nouns, so idaisa should end up with exactly the same meanings as the noun form of idai, but it could emphasize one in particular, or it could simply be more formal. In this case, I think it’s a bit of both; formal, because it’s the foreword to a book about her youth, and emphasizing mighty, because her story is about Ultraman.

But the reason I’m writing is to mention the one dictionary entry that did list idaisa, and included among its meanings a word forged from the purest Scrabbleite:

honorificabilitudinity

Yeah, that helped, thanks.