Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Runcible Spoon Mystery

The Mother always read to me, and at an early age I started memorizing and reciting my favorite stories; Hey Diddle Diddle, Sylvester And The Magic Pebble, and The Owl And The Pussycat just to name a few. The last one is still a favorite of mine.


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'


Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.


'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The mystery for The Mother and I (during the kindergarten year) was what a runcible spoon was. This was before the internet, so we went on a trip to the library to find out. After a little research we found out that a runcible spoon is defined as "a spoon on one end and a fork on the other".

This all came flooding back to me today because while in Wal-Mart today I bought myself a new fork/spoon to keep in my desk at school. I am tired of not having the right eating utensile and having to spend half of my lunch break going to the cafateria in search of one. This new fork/spoon that I purchased is called a "spork". I always understood a sprok to be that utensile that you get when you go to KFC, a spoon fork thing all on the same end. The utensile that I bought it what I thought a runcible spoon is, fork on one end, spoon on the other (pictured to the left from the company website).

According to Merriam-Webster it is defined as "coined with an obscure meaning by Edward Lear: a sharp-edged fork with three borad curved prongs". If you notice it is Edward Lear, the authoer of the Owl And The Pussycat who coined the term. Wikipedia goes on to further try to explain what a runcible spoon: "A runcible spoon is a utensil that appears in nonsense poetry, which also uses the adjective "runcible" to describe objects other than spoons. It is fundamentally a nonsense word".

Apparently Lear used the term rundible spoon two different times in his writing, once in The Owl And The Pussycat, the other in Twenty-Six Nonsense Rhymes And Pictures:

The Dolomphious Duck,
who caught Spotted Frogs for her dinner
with a Runcible Spoon
So it seems that even Lear was confused on what this utensile is. Wikipedia goes on to support his confusion by saying "Lear does not appear to have had any firm idea of what the word "runcible" means. His whimsical nonsense verse celebrates words primarily for their sound, and a specific definition is not needed to appreciate his work. However, since the 1920s (several decades after Lear's death), modern dictionaries have generally defined a runcible spoon to be a fork with three broad curved prongs and a sharpened edge, used with pickles or hors d'oeuvres, such as a pickle fork. It is occasionally used as a synonym for spork. However, this definition is not consistent with Lear's drawing, in which it is a ladle, nor does it account for the other "runcible" objects in Lear's poems."

So back to the original question, what is my new utensile called? I don't know for sure but I'm calling it a runcible spoon and if anyone questions me I have done my research.

Enjoy ~SJ

1 comment:

rach :) said...

Whatever it's called, having it available is a wonderful thing. There is nothing worse than being ready to eat delicious leftovers and then realizing you have nothing to eat it with but hands, and that is often not practical.

My next problem would be that it was never clean...