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Tales from the Dump: There’s a word for everything

The city has now come up with a plan to infill every green space in town and turn the Frame Lake walking trail into an urban subdivision path. Time to speak up. Photo courtesy of Walt Humphries


I came across this marvelous word recently and have been looking for a chance to use it. Just don’t ask me how to pronounce it. Because the more letters there are in a word, the harder I find it to say. Also, there is no way I would be able to spell it without looking it up in a dictionary.

Walt Humphries Tales from the Dump column standard for Yellowknifer

The dictionary says it is to be pronounced flok-suh-naw-suh-nahy-hil-uh-pil-uh-fi-KEY-shuhn. OK. English is supposed to be a phonic language where you can sound words out, but it often doesn’t work that way for long lost historic reasons so not only do you have to remember how to say the word but also how to spell it. In schooI, I once spelled out the word fizzickle, which rhymes with popsicle, but the teacher, after she stopped laughing, told me it was spelled physical. I didn’t even get any points for originality.

In case you have forgotten what a dictionary is, it’s a book that lists words alphabetically and I have one tucked away in my computer desk and still use it occasionally. Actually, I have several dictionaries and have always had one close at hand since I was a kid and started to read. I am a terrible speller so I need such a reference book to check how a word is spelled, and I often look up words to see what they actually mean. You would be a little surprised at how often people misuse a word or imply it means one thing when it means something else entirely.

The one problem with dictionaries is they assume you have a good idea how to spell the word and that isn’t always the case. So, on Google one can look up words if you can guess at their meaning.

I think most governments should set up a Department of Floccinaucinihilipilification with a senior minister in charge. Governments love big words and there aren’t many bigger than that. It could be called the Department of Flocci, for short.

The word itself means the act or habit of considering something to be not at all important or useful. I would argue that the government treats a lot of things that way so why not have a department to deal with them. I think they could include their departments of communication and consultation into the new Flocci department because often they really don’t seem to care or value the work they do.

Years ago, I was invited to attend a couple of very long and tedious workshops free of charge, because theoretically I was classed as a stakeholder. The city had hired some expensive out-of-territory consultants. They were to come up with some ideas for a long-term plan for city development. It became fairly obvious early on that they really weren’t interested in our knowledge of the North, ideas or input.

They kept bringing the conversation back to their two main points, densification and infilling and looking for space not already developed. Why? Because it was cheaper for the city to develop and maintain them. The other stakeholders and I kept trying to point out that this wouldn’t necessarily work in the North because many workers had a different lifestyle and needs than apartment-living office workers.

Being a prospector, I had boats, motors, snowmobiles, sleds, camping gear, prospecting gear, artists supplies, a drafting table and office gear. All that wasn’t going to fit into a small and expensive apartment. Plus, I love the landscape and the green spaces. That’s why I settled in the North.

Well, the city has now come up with a plan to infill every green space in town and turn the Frame Lake walking trail into an urban subdivision path. The expensive consultant from outside the territories strikes again. Better pay attention now and provide your input or our natural spaces, rock outcrops and forests that you walk past on the trail because they will be blasted away for more housing infill development.