Thursday 28 March 2024


Edwin Muir, An Autobiography (London: Methuen, 1964; 1940), p. 17:

Whenever Sutherland [the author’s cousin] got drunk he began to invent language. I can’t remember now many of his feats in this way, but he liked words with a dashing Spanish sound, like ‘yickahooka’ and ‘navahonta.’ He was so pleased with the word ‘tramcollicken,’ which he invented himself, that he gave it a specific meaning which I had better not mention; but the word became so popular that it spread all over Wyre. From somwhere or other he had picked up ‘graminivorous,’ which struck him by its comic sound, and for a long time his usual greeting was “Weel, boy, how’s thee graminivorous tramcollicken?” Macedonia, Arabia, Valparaiso, and Balaclava became parts of his ordinary vocabulary, giving him a sense of style and grandeur.