Posted by: Robin Koontz | July 8, 2012

Sparpungently yours

In 1990, my friend Darcie and I volunteered to produce the newsletter for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Oregon region, back then known as the NorthWest region. I was to write an article about giving the newsletter a name. We wanted a name that was witty or clever, so I used the word *sparpungent* to describe what we were looking for.

As we folded, stapled and added stamps and labels to our first edition, Darcie asked what sparpungent meant. I said it meant witty or clever, duh. Darcie pointed out that the word was not in the dictionary. Hmmm. Then I remembered that I found the word in the Roget’s Thesaurus! We looked it up. And found the word:


Oops. Yah well, I blew it. We agreed not to correct the error. We would not do what responsible editors do – include a correction in the next edition. No way! It was a great word, so we decided to start using it in every subsequent edition of the newly named SCBWI Oregon NewsWorthy. People began to use the word in conversation. A few did ask about it, and we’d just tell them that it meant clever, and that was that.

I think it was at the 2005 fall retreat when I was coerced into fessing up. I told the sordid story and displayed the page from Rogets that revealed the horrible truth. Sure, the folks at Oxford adopt a word if it’s used enough, as slang usually. But I’ve never submitted *sparpungent* because I’d rather not see it listed as a new slang term along with *unfriend* or *steampunk*. But maybe I should. I’ll ask Darcie what she thinks.

It has been a little over a month since my volunteer gig ended with the SCBWI Oregon. The May 18-19 conference was the end of a 23-year stint. The weekend was a bit stressful, more so than usual, but I did manage to mangle the story for everyone about the origin of sparpungent. I’m pretty sure it will go by the wayside along with a few other traditions, but I wish the best to the folks that have stepped in to devote their time, energy, and love to our Oregon writers and illustrators. So far they have done a sparpungent job!


Responses

  1. That’s a great story. Ah, the end of an era. I’m sure you’re enjoying your new-found freedom.

  2. Robin, such an easy mistake to make when you are tired, bleary eyed, under a hectic schedule. All you did was get to the last word on one line, miss the next line and pick up the last line. It might actually catch on as the name of a great new board game. Think of the fun of creating a game along those lines.😀

    Sparpungently yours,
    S


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