Cinoc, who was then about fifty, pursued a curious profession. As he said himself, he was a "word-killer": he worked at keeping Larousse dictionaries up to date. But whilst other compilers sought out new words and meanings, his job was to make room for them by eliminating all the words and meanings that had fallen into disuse.
When he retired in nineteen sixty-five, after fifty-three years of scrupulous service, he had disposed of hundreds and thousands of names, weights and measures; he had wiped dozens of islands, hundreds of cities and rivers, and thousands of townships off the map; he had returned to taxonomic anonymity hundreds of varieties of cattle, species of birds, insects, and snakes, rather special sorts of fish, kinds of crustaceans, slightly dissimilar plants and particular breeds of vegetables and fruit; and cohorts of geographers, missionaries, entomologists, Church Fathers, men of letters, generals, Gods & Demons had been swept by his hand into eternal obscurity.
Who would know ever again what a vigigraphe was, “a type of telegraph consisting of watchtowers communicating with each other“? And who could henceforth imagine there had existed for perhaps many generations a “block of wood on the end of a stick for flattening watercress in flooded ditches“ and that the block had been called a schuèle (shϋ-ell)? Who would recall the vèlocimane?
->VELOCIMANE (masc. nn.)(from Lat. velox, -ocis, speedy, and manus,hand). Speciallocomotive device for children, resembling a horse, mounted on three or four wheels, also called mechanical horse.
Where had all the abunans gone, patriarch of the Aybssinian Church, and the palatines, fur tippets worn by women in winter, so named after the Princess Palatine who introduced their use into France in the minority of Louis XIV, and the chandernagors, those gold-spangled NCOs who marched at the head of Second Empire processions? What had become of Léoplold-Rudolph von Schwanzenbad-Hodenthaler, whose outstanding courage at Eisenϋhr allowed Zimmerwald to carry the day at Kisàszony? And Uz (Jean-Pierre) 1720-1796, German poet, author of Lyrical Poems, The Art of Being Ever Joyful (a didactic poem), Odes and Songs, etc.? And Albert de Routisie (Basel, 1834 – White Sea, 1867). French poet and novelist. A great admirer of Lonomonsov, he undertook a pilgrimage to his place of birth at Arkhangelsk, but the ship sand just before entering harbour. After his death his only daughter, Irena Ragon, published his unfinished novel, Les Cent-Jours, a selection poetry, Les Yeux de Mélusine, and, under the title of Leçons, and admirable anthology of aphorisms which remains his finest work. Who would now ever know that François Albergati Capacelli was an Italian playwright born at Bologna in 1728, or that the master caster Rondeau (1493-1543) had been responsible for the bronze door of the funeral chapel at Carennac?
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