Interdisciplinarity – Inquiry across academic disciplines.
At Buck Duke’s Babbitt factory in Durham, N.C., this clumsy word is clattering off many tongues, as in this sentence from Duke University’s website: ‘In the most recent university strategic plan, ‘Making a Difference 2006.’ interdisciplinarity, or ‘inquiry across disciplines,’ was reaffirmed as an integral part of the university’s identity.’ Such coinages are the result of the impulse, common in academia, to replace perfectly serviceable simple words with one big fat important-sounding lump of bombast. Americans should leave this dubious art to the Germans, who are much better at it than we are. Consider the German word Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän, which translates as River Danube Steamship Society Captain. Those Germans are unrivaled masters of the verbal train wreck.
In Albanian, it is called gjel deti meaning ‘sea rooster’
In Armenian, it is called hndkahav or hntkahav (Հնդկահավ), meaning ‘Indian chicken’
In Greek, it is called gallopoúla (γαλοπούλα), meaning ‘French chicken’
In Swahili, it is called bata mzinga, meaning ‘the great duck’
In Urdu, it is called feel murgh, meaning ‘elephant chicken’
Feeling inarticulate? Critically gauche? Or just verbally impotent? We here at Pixmaven have developed The Instant Art Critique Phrase Generator so you need never again feel at a loss for pithy commentary or savvy “insights.”
Related longread: Alix Rule & David Levine’s “International Art English,” on the peculiar and pervasive meaninglessness of fine art criticism in Triple Canopy. The take away being, of course, that sometimes art is stupefying but the language used to describe it shouldn’t be.
“It cannot but come as a surprise that against the background of countless important words whose origin has never been discovered some totally insignificant verbs and nouns have been traced successfully and convincingly to the very beginning of Indo-European. Fart (‘not in delicate use’) looks like a product of our time, but it has existed since time immemorial. Even the nuances have not been lost: one thing is to break wind loudly (farting); quite a different thing is to do it quietly (the now obscure ‘fisting’). (This fist has nothing to do with fist ‘clenched fingers’ and consequently isn’t related to fisting, a sexual activity requiring, as we are warned, great caution and a lot of tender experience.)”
-Anatoly Liberman traces the etymology of the word “fart”