Along an ultimately fruitless line of research for that last post, I discovered this small note from one of my favorite Fantasy/SciFi writers in an issue of the journal American Speech. L. Sprague De Camp, co-author of the Incompleat Enchanter, among other things, was driven to the 1954 equivalent of the angry blogpost by a request to review a book called An Index on the Weird and Fantastica in Magazines. He had a beef with the neologisms “fantastica” and “periodica”:

Evidently, Messrs. Day and Larson, and goodness knows who else in the business of publishing and bookselling, have sought to lend tone to their enterprises by manufacturing synthetic Latinisms on the analogy of the literary words erotica and esoterica, to take the place of the established words fantastic (or fantasies) and periodicals. These neologisms open up some alarming possibilities, if the habit should spread. One can imagine entering a large bookstore and reading on the directory that (instead of ‘popular novels, Westerns, and detective stories’) the first floor was stocked with ‘romantica, hesperica, and mysterica.’ The second floor would carry politica and scientifica; the third, historica and biographica; the fourth, classica and poetica; while theologica and philosophica occupied the roof and pornographica the basement.

For the record, I was trying to locate a reference to the medieval use of fake Latin like ‘horsibus’ and ‘breadibus’ in sacramental parody. I failed. Maybe someone out there knows a good cite?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dr. Virago

    Ooh! Horsibus and breadibus! You’re working on Mankind! (I am such a geek.) I love that play. Wish I could help you with a source.

  • Expavesco

    I just discovered your blog, and I thank you sir.

    Orlando Bloom’s Deaminess was never verbaly dignified for me until I had read your review of Kingdom of Heaven.

    The Gods, they smile upon you.

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