John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Happy Birthday, cmdr_kitsune!

For your present, here's today's Forgotten English!

The instinctive love of offspring. A hybrid word [from the pseudoscience of phrenology] from Greek philos, loving, and Latin progenies, progeny.
--Daniel Lyons' American Dictionary of the English Language, 1897

Birthday of Franz Joseph Gall (1757-1828),
the Swabian founder of the pseudoscience known as phrenology. According to this system, the bumps, shape, and size of one's skull determined a person's capacity for various physical and mental functions. Inhabitiveness was just one of a litany of odd names for the various functions coined by Gall and his followers. Others included marvellousness, which was determined to have its seat in the upper parietal regions of the skull; adhesiveness, located in the occipital area; amativeness (based on amorousness), found in the cerebellum just above the back of the neck; and eventuality, which supposedly arose from the gray matter just above and behind the bridge of the nose. The theories of phrenology were developed in eastern Europe, but "applied phrenology" took hold in small-town America, where itinerant "bump doctors" shared the medical stage with snake-oil salesmen and other mountebanks.


That reminds me of "The Physiognomizer," a weird science gadget I created for the Technomancer's Toybox supplement for Mage: The Ascension. The Physiognomizer was this enormous machine you'd strap people into with a metal dome over their head, and it would change their personality by altering the shape of their skull. It was primarily intended as a "mind control" gadget for evil masterminds, although I suppose Doc Savage types could have used it as a way to rehabilitate criminals.

Technically, "physiognomy" said your personality was shaped by the contours of your face, rather than your skull, but "The Physiognomizer" was a better name than "The Phrenologizer."

-The Gneech
Tags: fantasy, forgotten english, writing
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