The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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More Reference Works

December 25th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Have you bought your copy of Le Scat Noir Encyclopaedia yet? Here’s another ullage dozen of reference works from my library, to get you in the mood.

A dictionary of Enochian, the angelic language communicated to John Dee and Edward Kelley in a number of scrying sessions in the late 16th century. It remains popular among ceremonial magicians. “Gmicalzoma,” by the way, means “with a power understanding.”

The New Book of Prime Number Records offers the prime-number buff 541 pages about prime numbers, including Mersenne numbers, Lucas sequences, Fermat numbers, Carmichael numbers, repunits, and much more. 541, of course, is a prime.

Every slang dictionary has its own character. This one was compiled by one of my favorite writers, François Caradec, noted ‘Pataphysician and biographer of Alphonse Allais, Raymond Roussel, Alfred Jarry, and Le Pétomane. He begins with à, noting it often replaces de or chez in the spoken language, and winds up with zyeuter de la merde, to have poor eyesight.

A pictorial history of campaign buttons, compiled for collectors. Filled with graphic delights, unfortunately all in black and white.

A handbook of an early universal language, Volapük, devised in 1879 by Johann Martin Schleyer. It had a brief vogue, but was too clumsy and complicated to catch on. Nevertheless, it will benefit everyone to have read this book: Opöfüdos alime elilädön buki at.

The Benedictine monk Antoine-Joseph Pernéty compiled his Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary in 1758. It contains an impressive glossary (546 pages) of alchemical terms, from Abam (lead) to Zymar (verdigris).

A fine collection of Piedmontese proverbs. It doesn’t settle the argument whether Piedmontese is an Italian dialect or a separate language, but does offer such samples of folk wisdom as Arc an cel d’ matin a fa giré ‘l mùlin: A rainbow in the morning, and the mill will turn.

C. K. Ogden proposed a simple universal language: English limited to 850 words. His plan was endorsed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, among others.

A dictionary of Italian food and wine, in four languages. Italian certainly has an extensive vocabulary on those subjects.

A flavorful glossary of criminal slang, from 1950. The editors begin by crediting their “Board of Underworld Advisers”: Bad Bill, Big Department, Bubbles, Butch, Chink, Chop Chop, Dippo, Duke, Hal the Rebel, Iggy, Jo Jo, Red Mack, Slim, Stubs, and The Colonel.

The authoritative work on magic squares, from 1917, with 754 examples.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Books

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 mamie // Jan 14, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    Some peoples English does only consist of 850 words.

  • 2 Doug // Jan 14, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Probably not the same 850. I don’t think Ogden included racial slurs, for example.

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