Words:Zemblanity

From Tractatus

My favorite word is Zemblanity. I use it as often as I am able in order to get it to catch on and enter the English language. You don't know what it means? Well, that is because it was coined not long ago by William Boyd in his book Armadillo. I found out about the word by reading William Safire's column On Language.

The word is the natural opposite of the word Serendipity. If you recall, the Princes of Serendip came across good things by chance, hence Serendipity, the accidental discovery of good things. Zemblanity, the opposite, refers to the inexorable discovery of bad things. It comes from the arctic island Zembla, where Russia performed extensive nuclear testing. The inexorable discovery, of what no one wants to know.

What I love about this word is its darkness, the forlorn lack of hope. By using this word, you subscribe to a world of darkness and suffering, but in doing so have chosen a play on words. A lightness. A sunny pastel. Its very discovery is the chance that the word denies its victim.

I like that the word, in the negation of Serendipity negates the idea wholly. While you could accidentally discover bad things, or inexorably discover good things, those do not oppose the idea, rather they lie somewhere between the two extremes. It is reminiscent to me of the concept of a non-boolean algebra, where negation becomes a much more complex animal.

So, because I like the word, and because like Humpty-Dumpty I am the master, I choose to use the word, and hope you do as well.

[[[Note: I find it equally humorous that my page is the top Google hit for zemblanity and zemblanitous.]]]