Archive for the 'French' Category

Mnemonics #1

July 13, 2007

ébranler – to shake or weaken

Who can resist the urge towards puerility when asked to remember a word with “bran” as its middle syllable, especially when it obliges the uvula to heap one syllable on top of its predecessor in so viscous a manner as this word does?

Rest assured, I am not so strong; nor can I forebear to note the certain explosive quality of the accented e, which ushers in the bare fact of a weakening the cause of which is only to be discovered in the musing, elongated phonemes that follow – the phonemes, of course, where “bran” is found. The accented e – which, in being set apart from the rest of the word by the distinctness it commands in the face of the muffled remainder by means of whose contorted efflorescences one sound heaves sickly into another, allows the word to contain its own meaning by obliging one to perform, first, an enervating coup, then a muddled reaction so far back in the throat that it may as well be abdominal – bears an accent aigu, which, in starting just above that vowel and rising, illustrates a movement precisely opposite to the lost buoyancy of the weakening’s object.

The result of the negation affected by the rising accent aigu and the sudden enfeeblement of the object is a kind of stasis which I choose to interpret not as a conflict with the active sense of the word, but as a recapitulation of the weakened state where decisive action in one direction or another is rendered impossible.