Friday, January 20, 2006


Sometimes, I fantasize that I'm the one who invented a certain word. For instance, "beturtlenecked."

This word recently cropped up this week in Xtra!'s editorial Harper's Holy War:
Canada's gay communities have rarely known political leaders to be our champions. But I can't recall another leader who so actively tried to turn religious people against their gay fellow citizens.

It's one thing for Stephen Harper, the nutty rightwing opposition leader, to conduct himself thus. But imagine Stephen Harper, freshly trimmed and beturtlenecked, as our prime minister: goading the faithful, exploiting misunderstandings, fomenting bigotry, shredding the social fabric. It's shameful, reprehensible and menacing.
I first used the word beturtlenecked in the National Post in an interview I conducted with Bernardo Bertolucci in February of 2004:
[M]any of revolutionaries of 1968 were also involved in a few movements that have not aged so well. [Bertolucci's] The Dreamers acknowledges this in the character of Theo, a young, beturtlenecked intellectual who admires Chairman Mao and the Chinese Cultural Revolution and is just waiting for a reason to toss his first Molotov cocktail. In Theo's cinephilic mind, the Long March is a great cinematic event choreographed by a brilliant director.
The next month, I again used the word in a review of Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle.

Alas, however, it seems that I was not the first to fashion a word after bespectacled to deal with turtlenecks. A Google search turns up a mere 30 hits for "beturtlenecked" -- but there is single hit that dates to before February, 2004. In a review of Phranc's 1989 album "I Enjoy Being a Girl," The Guardian James Delingpole apparently wrote: "At her best Phranc can easily match both the earthy richness of the beturtlenecked Tracy Chapman and the sweetly innocent tones of Suzanne Vega."

Likewise, an Infomart search turns up a single article that uses the word "beturtlenecked" before I did in its database. In 1998, The Gazette's long-time Quebec City columnist Don MacPherson refered to Andre Caille as " the smooth-talking, beturtlenecked president of Hydro."

So, while I seem not to have been the first to combine "turtleneck" with the prefix be- and the suffix -ed, beturtlenecked is not a common word. We should work together to change that.

Thank you.

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