Day Twenty One.
I was lying to you in my last blog, when I said that the word “antidisestablishmentarianism” originated in the Seventeenth Century. It is actually a Nineteenth Century word. I only said that so that I could talk about the Seventeenth Century sects, for whom I have great affection.
However, this debate, about the relationship between the church and the state did indeed begin in the Seventeenth Century, so although I was wrong in the fact, I was right in the spirit.
There are twenty-six thousand, nine hundred references to “antidisestablishmentarianism” on the web.
That’s a hell of a lot of interest in what is otherwise a fairly useless word.
Most of them are variations on the old joke “antidisestablishmentarianism is a very long word, can you spell it?”
It was one of the first jokes I heard as a child, except that when I heard it the word was “Constantinople” not “antidisestablishmentarianism”..
Also, I’m not the first person to have tried to use the word in a piece of writing. Duke Ellington managed it much more elegantly than I back in the forties, with a song called “You’re Just An Old Antidisestablishmentarianismist.”.
These are the words:
“You never want to be coddled, You never want to be kissed, You're just an old ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISMIST! When I come close when we're dancing, I get a slap on the wrist, Don't be an old ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISMIST! You've got no use for moonlight, You'd turn your back on a star! Your heart is bent and you're against The state of things as they are! When you're a hundred years older, maybe you'll want what you've missed, Don't be an old ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISMIST.”
You’ll notice that he has added three more letters, both for the sake of the rhyme, but also so it scans better.
That’s nine uses of “antidisestablishmentarianism” in only three hundred and fourteen words.
Is this a record?