NABOKV-L post 0019117, Sun, 17 Jan 2010 16:41:20 +0100

Re: Webster's Second, more on "stang"
My 1986 copy of Webster's Third defines "stang" as follows:
2. dial Brit: pole, bar.
3. chiefly Scot: pang.
I do not share the general puzzlement about VN's use of the word. Perhaps
because the word is fairly common in Dutch and used in several expressions
as well? Perhaps, but not entirely.
We have it on record that Nabokov didn't care whether a word was rare,
obsolete or dialectical, as long as it suited his needs.
One may as well wonder why he did use houghmagandy in the same novel; was it
because of the alliteration and assonance only? I don't think so. Why did he
use "ganch" in ADA instead of "impale"? I could go on and on.
I like to think that, as has been pointed out before, the feel of steel the
word evokes (cold and hard) may have been decisive for VN; furthermore, on a
cold night a stang will sting the hand more.
It has been noted before that PF contains a striking amount of dialect
words, chiefly Scottish ones. The line preceding the one containing the word
in quiestion has "Lochanhead", lochan is a diminutive of the Scottish loch,
and lochan means pond. There is a defamiliarization at play here on a verbal
level similar to the existential one experienced by Hazel.

A. Bouazza.

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