18 December 2006

Not Just a Regular Nerd

I admit -- I am not your regular sort of nerd. I'm a grammar nerd, a history nerd, and an etymological nerd. And I have to share, because I'm also a show off!

First, I contributed my first whole article to Wikipedia. I've corrected various entries in the past, but this was my first time to start one from scratch. The article? Regina Strinasacchi. I am proud of this because a) she was a famous violin virtuoso and composer back when women played only piano in public, b) she worked with and was respected by Mozart, THE master of the day, and c) she seems to have been lost to the general annals of history.

Also, I owe her. In Salzburg Serenade, I use her as a means of convincing my reluctant heroine to pursue an unconventional career as a violinist. What better sort of role model than a genuine historical example? I could not let her languish in obscurity when she helped advance my plot! I love the idea of bringing her back to life, first in my MS and now in Wikipedia.

What bums me out, though, is I provided Wikipedia with all the information I could find -- none of which included a physical description. I'm afraid for the purposes of my novel, I literally had to invent her image:

An elegant woman in her early forties accompanied the kapellmeister. She wore an exquisite gown of watercolor blue silk and ivory lace trim. Gray-streaked black hair arranged in an elaborate coiffure of spirals and curls accentuated the graceful lines of her neck and slender face. Magnetic black eyes shone from beneath dark, heavy lashes. An oblong bruise along her left jaw marred her otherwise flawless olive skin.

Mathilda had never seen a more arresting, self-possessed woman.
The second awesome, nerdish thing I've done is contribute a word to the Oxford English Dictionary. The word? PRAUNCER. Watch -- my big contribution to the English language will not be books, but a synonym for f*cker! (Another possibility is that a prauncer is synonymous with a cheat, which is what a pricker means, below.) While I'm waiting for the lexicographers' decision, here are context clues from my source, Robin Hood and the Friar (1475). You decide:

Here is an huckle duckle,
An inch above the buckle.
She is a trul of trust [prostitute],
To serve a frier at his lust,
A prycker, a prauncer, a terer of shetes,
A wagger of ballockes when other men slepes.
Go home, ye knaves, and lay crabbes in the fyre,
For my lady and I wil daunce in the myre,
For veri pure joye.
Ah, that dirty old man Friar Tuck.