City of Dord

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Upon reading the following brief account of the ghost word dord, it immediately struck me that we in Vancouver have the misfortune to live in the City of Dord. As a particular delight, the story includes the fear-inducing word planned. Further expatiation will follow presentation of this bright nugget, latched onto only as a discerning crow might treasure a piece of tinfoil.


      The most famous ghost of the twentieth century appeared in Webster's Second
      New International, published in 1934. Webster's included many abbreviations
      in its wordlist, and the compilers planned to include the abbreviation for
      density, usually D, though sometimes a lowercase d is used. In July 1931,
      one lexicographer — Austin M. Patterson, special editor for chemistry — typed
      a 3 × 5 card explaining the abbreviation: he headed it "D or d" and provided
      the explanation "density." But when it came time to transcribe the card, someone 
      misread it and ran theletters together without spaces, producing "Dord, density."
      It took five years for aMerriam editor to notice the strange entry, supported by 
      neither etymology nor pronunciation. After investigating — no one could find any
      evidence for a word dord — he realized it was a mistake. He made an annotation:
      "plate change / imperative / urgent," and the printer removed dord from the next
      reprint, filling the otherwise empty line by adding a few letters to the entry
      for doré furnace.

      Pages 152-153 from "Of Ghosts and Mountweazels," Chapter 10½ in:
      Jack Lynch. You Could Look It Up: The Reference Shelf from Ancient
      Babylon to Wikipedia. New York : Bloomsbury Press, c2016

The suggestivity of this passage could prove as boundless as the heights to which a Babylonic tower might aspire.

To start with, notice the astounding textual homology: a foolish mistake ran the letters together without spaces. Think of thin streets. Think of plazas plundered, both before (Westbank at 2220 Kingsway) and after (Cadillac Fairview at Pacific Centre) those plazas ever see the light of day.

Next, appreciate how the dictionary publisher could fix the density mistake after a mere five years with a plate change. The beset residents of Vancouver promise to become far more beset when a tectonic plate change restructures the City of Dord.

Finally, revel in thinking about the conjunction of “ghost” with “density.” The incongruity of the two notions emblematizes the future that Bob Rennie has infamously promised to Vancouver. An overall proportion of ever more dwellings for ever fewer residents, as global wealth runs amok. From another angle, ponder how the wraithlike nonsubstance of ghosts has no truck with concentration of matter.

Here is a conundrum for the apostles of density:

How many ghosts can float around in one microsuite in the City of Dord?


Written by eyeonnorquay

22 August 2016 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Humor

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