Terms and Definitions: K
This page is under perpetual
construction! It was last updated January 5, 2017.
This list is
meant to assist, not intimidate. Use it as a touchstone for
important concepts and vocabulary that we will cover during
the term. Vocabulary
terms are listed alphabetically.
Traditional Japanese ghost stories, especially folktales
from the Edo period.
A set of Japanese ideographs.
The Japanese derived them from the older Chinese ideographs.
KATABASIS: The Greek term for the descent into the underworld.
An alternative spelling of catharsis
KECHUMARAN: A family of non-Indo-European languages
spoken in the Andes of South America.
A form of compounding
English, Old Norse, and Germanic poetry. In
this poetic device, the poet creates a new compound word or
or activity. Specifically, this compound uses mixed imagery
to describe the properties of the object in indirect, imaginative,
or enigmatic ways. The resulting word is somewhat like a riddle
since the reader must stop and think for a minute to determine
what the object is. Kennings may involve conjoining two types
of dissimilar imagery, extended metaphors, or mixed metaphors.
Kennings were particularly common in Old English literature
and Viking poetry. The most famous example is hron-rade
("whale-road") as a poetic reference to the sea.
Other examples include Thor-Weapon as
a reference to a smith's hammer, battle-flame as
a reference to the way light shines on swords, gore-cradle for
a battlefield filled with motionless bodies, and word-hoard for
a person's eloquence. In Njal's Saga we find Old Norse kennings
like shield-tester for warrior, or prayer-smithy for a man's heart,
or head-anvil for the skull. In Beowulf,
we also find Anglo-Saxon banhus ("bone-house")
goldwine gumena ("gold-friend of warriors") for
a generous prince, beadoleoma ("flashing light")
for sword, and beaga-gifa ("ring-giver")
for a lord.
Kennings are less common
English than in earlier centuries,
but some common modern examples include "beer-goggles"
(to describe the way one's judgment of appearances becomes
hazy while intoxicated) and "surfing the web" (which
mixes the imagery of skillful motion through large amounts
amorphous material with the imagery of an interconnected net
linked by strands or cables), "rug-rats" (to describe children),
"tramp-stamps" (to describe trashy tattoos), or "bible-thumpers"
(to describe loud preachers or intolerant Christians). See
KENTISH: The Old English dialect
spoken in Kent.
KHOISAN: A family of non-Indo-European languages spoken
in the southwestern regions of Africa.
A traditional "season-word" in Japanese haiku.
The kigo must appear within a haiku's text or
be strongly implied by imagery. These words place the haiku
within a specific month or season, establishing an atmosphere
for the poem while maintaining brevity. Japanese books of poetry
are usually divided according to season, with the five Japanese
seasons being Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and New Year's added
as the fifth season to Europe's traditional four. The kigo
can be an actual reference to the name of the season or a month,
or it can be a traditional connotative word: cicadas, fireflies,
flies, frogs, and mosquitoes are common kigo for summer
haiku, as are billowing clouds, summer storms, burning
sunshine, fans, midday naps, parasols, and planters' songs.
Fall kigo include references to the moon, falling leaves,
scarecrows, the call of crickets, chrysanthemums, and allusions
to the cold weather, lengthening nights, graveside visits, charcoal
kilns, medicinal roots, gourds, persimmons, apples, and vines.
Winter kigo include imagery of snow, bowl-beating rituals
or begging, allusions to failing strength, charcoal fires, banked
fires, socks drying, the old calendar, mochi (festive
rice-cakes) and mochi sellers. Spring kigo include
cherry blossoms, and so on. The following haiku by Bashó
illustrates the kigo:
Kare eda ni
Karasu no tomari keri
Aki no kure
[On a leafless bough
A crow is perched--
The autumn dusk.]
for further discussion.
Lady Augusta Gregory's term for English with Gaelic syntax--i.e.,
dialect of English spoken in Kiltartan, a townland close
to her home at Coole Park. Lady Gregory chose to use this
dialect and its distinctive Gaelic features for her translations
of Old Irish tales in Gods and Fighting Men.
KINESICS: In linguistics, the analysis of how body
movements can communicate meaning.
"What others hear about you"): Renown, honor, glory,
and fair reputation achieved
through great deeds--especially battle but to a lesser extent
in Olympic games, poetry contests, and literature. The Greeks
kleos as something transferred from a father
and the son would inherit the duty for carrying on and building
upon the "glory" of the father. In Greek literature, kleos becomes
a predominant concern of epic heroes like Achilles, who must
choose between achieving
kleos but dying in battle, or having a long and
happy life but having his name fade after a few generations.
A military aristocrat in medieval Europe and England who swore
service as a vassal to a liege lord in exchange for control
over land. The term comes from the Old
English word cniht, meaning young man or
servant-boy. The process of becoming a knight was a
long one, and small boys would begin their training as a page
at court, serving food or drink to their elders, running messages
and errands. They would be expected during this period to learn
the niceties of polite society and respect for their elders.
The next phase of training was serving as squire to another
knight. The squire would be expected to polish and clean his
knight's armor and weapons, care for and feed the horses, and
wait upon his master during jousts or military service. He would
also learn the finer points of fighting and riding. The final
stage of knighthood was a semi-religious ceremony that varied
in its details from one geographic area to another. In the late
medieval period, the position of knight often became hereditary,
and the title Sir, Ser, or Don was indicative
of this rank. Associated with knighthood in the later Middle
Ages were cultural phenomena such as feudalism,
the cult of chivalry
and courtly love.
(1) Common or lower-class Greek as it was spoken throughout
the Mediterranean regions during the
period up through the last days of the Roman Empire. The Greek
New Testament, for instance, was written in Koine Greek
as opposed to the literary language of Classical Greek. (2)
Figuratively, any widely distributed variety of a language--i.e.,
KOLBÍTAR (Old Norse, "coal-biter"): The term has two pertinent meanings for literature students as follows:
(1) a kenning in Old Norse literature to describe men who huddle close enough to kitchen fires that they could bite the coals--i.e., lazy sit-abouts who neglect manly tasks; such stock characters appear frequently in Old Norse narratives, and they often end up dynamic characters who transform into heroes after inauspicious beginnings (see Andrew Lazo's discussion in Drout 324).
(2) a club of scholars at Oxford founded by J.R.R. Tolkien who met several times a semester to work their way through translating and reading aloud Old Norse works like the Eddas and sagas, which overlapped to some degre with the Viking Club for undergraduates (founded by Tolkien and E.V. Goron), and later rolled into the Inklings (Drout 324).
A rowdy Greek drinking game. After draining the wine in
a kylix, the drinker
stick a finger through
one of the handles and rapidly spin the kylix around. He would
then suddenly stop its motion, and the dregs of the wine would
shoot forth from the bottom of the kylix. We aren't exactly
sure what the rules were for the game, but apparently the
competitors tried to aim the dregs so they would land in a
large flattish bowl or else hit a specific target in
the room. Amongst
the competitors who successfully hit the target, the one with
the best spatter of rays in the splash pattern would be declared
the winner, with six-pointed stars being worth more than five-pointed
stars, and so on, (i.e., the messier the impact, the more
points it was worth). We can imagine the contest was a
fairly wet one, and that
other competitors) would end up spattered with the lees. In late-night
dinners as depicted in Plato's Symposium, kottabos would
have been one of the primary entertainments.
KUZNITSA: The "Smithy Poets" of Russia. More information TBA:
I consulted the following works
while preparing this list. I have tried to give credit to specific sources when
feasible, but in many cases multiple reference works use the same examples or
provide the same dates for common information. Students should examine these
resources for more information than these humble webpages provide:
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Algeo, John and Thomas Pyles.
The Origin and Development of the English Language. 5th edition.
Anderson, Douglas. "Note on the Text" in J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. 50th anniversary edition. Houghton Mifflin, 2004.
Baugh, A. C. and
Thomas Cable. A History of
the English Language. 6th edition. Boston: Pearson Publishing, 2013.
Brown, Michelle P. Understanding
Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms. London: The British
Library and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994.
Burkert, Walter. Greek Religion.
[Originally published 1977 as Griechische Religion der archaischen
und klassischen Epoche.] Trans. John Raffan. Cambridge: Harvard UP,
Carrick, Jake. E-mail interview. 28 April 2016.
Catholic University of America
Editorial Staff. The New Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Corbett, Edward P. J. Classical
Rhetoric for the Modern Student. 3rd edition. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990.
Crow, Martin and
Virginia E. Leland. "A Chronology
of Chaucer's Life and Times." As condensed and reproduced
in Larry Benson's The Canterbury Tales, Complete. Boston: Houghton
Mifflin Company, 2000. xxiii-xxv.
Cuddon, J. A. The
Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. London: Penguin
Damrosch, David, gen. ed. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. 2nd Compact Edition. Volume A. New York: Pearson, 2004. 3 Vols.
Deutsch, Babette. Poetry
Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms. Fourth Edition. New York: Harper and
Row, 1974. Reprint as Barnes and Noble Edition, 1981.
Drout, Michael D. C. J.R.R. Tolkien
Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. New York: Routledge, 2007.
Duffy, Seán. Medieval
Ireland: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Eagleton, Terry. Literary
Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P,
Elkhadem, Saad. The York Dictionary Literary Terms and Their Origin: English, French, German, Spanish. York P, 1976.
Feeney, Denis. "Introduction." Ovid: Metamorphóses Trans. David Raeburn. London: Penguin Books, 2004.
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Bible as Literature: An Introduction. New York: Oxford U P, 1986.
Giroux, Joan. The Haiku
Form. New York: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1974. Reprinted New York:
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The Norton Shakespeare: Tragedies. New York: Norton, 1997. 1139-43.
Guerin, Wilfred L., et
al. "Glossary." A Handbook of Critical Approaches to
Literature. 2nd ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1979. 317-29.
Harkins, Williams E. Dictionary
of Russian Literature. The New Students Outline Series. Patterson, New
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Eagle, eds. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 4th ed.
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Horobin, Simon. Chaucer's Language. New
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Kane, George. The Autobiographical Fallacy in Chaucer and Langland Studies. London: H. K. Lewis, 1965.
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Velásquez, Lito. E-mail communication. 26 October 2015.
Williams, Jerri. "Schemes
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Yasuda, Kenneth. The
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Zireaux, Paul. E-mail Interview. 21 June 2012.