NABOKV-L post 0018321, Tue, 12 May 2009 23:12:28 -0300

Subject
[NABOKOV-L] New words,
archive on prone versus supine and Huxley's cline.
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Off-List Fran Assa mentioned Aldous Huxley in relation to my former posting on Kinbote and beavers [a fake beaver was used to terrific comic effect in Huxley's Antic Hay, published in 1923] and by a very devious route I then remembered Well's "The History of Mr.Polly" for, in my ignorance, I thought it'd been written by Sir Julian Huxley! Google set me right and added an information that led me onto a totally different direction.

In the Wiki I read that Julian "Huxley's use of language was highly skilled, and when no word seemed to suit he invented one: Clade (1957); Cline (1938)*;Grade (1959);Morph (1942)..."
I remembered a discussion about "supine" and "cline" in our List, perhaps in TT, most probably in ADA.
I tried to find "cline" in the Archives, but with no success. Perhaps the word had been related to an incline or a declivity, not really "cline"?

In relation to "supine versus prone" ( quite unrelated to "cline") there were several entries in Dec. 2004, one in particular worth bring up once more:
Mike Stauss: "A friend recently made the offhand comment that Vladimir Nabokov, though a master of the English language, never observed the difference between "supine" and "prostrate". He didn't have any examples to cite. Any responses from the list to this charge?"
B.Boyd: Nonsense. As if someone who a) had an English vocabulary wider than any other novelist but Joyce's b) had a particular fascination for the accurate rendition of gesture and posture, and their local cultural and individual variants, and c) had a lifelong concern for the precise description of physiological particularities, arising from, among other things, his passion for Lepidoptera, would make this mistake. From the LOLITA SCREENPLAY, p. 41: HUMBERT So you are Lolita. LOLITA Yes, that's me. Turns from sea-star supine to seal prone."
Two magnificent metaphors and a fine defamiliarizing description of a commonplace action in nine syllables. Tom Stoppard called "(picnic, lightning)" the greatest parenthesis in literature. This must rank as one of the greatest stage directions in drama."

There were two sentences using "cline" in ADA ( following Huxley's coinage?)
I haven't yet checked B.Boyd's notes on Ada: perhaps some interested party might come in and help. In my opinion a space for conjectures on VN's use is still open:

1."But what about the rare radiance on those adored lips? Bright derision can easily grade, through a cline of glee, into a look of rapture (page 322, The Library of America):
2.Man, in that sense, will never die, because there may never be a taxonomical point in his evolutionary progress that could be determined as the last stage of man in the cline turning him into Neohomo, or some horrible, throbbing slime. (Texture of Time,ch 4,page 428, TLOA)

In the first sentence the use of "cline" doesn't seem to follow Huxley's definition, even metaphorically - considering the context of the geography of a face and gradual changes of feature...
And yet, on-line dic brings a promising example of its usage in patsy: "Music ranges from patsy cline to Pink with everything else inbetween..."[<a href="www.yourdictionary.com/examples/cline">cline</a> ]
In the second example VN might have been indicating a "gene cline".


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* - In biology, a cline is a gradual change of phenotype (trait, character or feature) in a species over a geographical area, often as a result of environmental heterogeneity. Typically, a well-marked cline does not allow for a delineation of subspecies, as it is then impossible, by definition, to draw any further clear dividing lines between populations. In the scientific study of human genetic variation, a gene cline can be rigorously defined, being readily submissible to straightforward, quantitative metrics; this has apparently not been so of the evidently more subjective concept of "race".

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