Project Runway is back. No new Tim Gunnisms yet -- most of the linguistic highlights of the first episode were produced by contestant Elisa.
A dress of sculptural quality (only visible to its designer) is imbued* with a natural element (read: grass stains on white fabric). Mythical gowns with cascades evoke sylphs** and haikus*** (again, in the designer's mind) -- while in the judges' corner, the very same dress provokes metaphors of trainwrecks**** (guest judge Monica Lhuillier) that are pooing fabric (Heidi Klum, down-to-earth mother of three).
Elisa, please stay with us a little longer, your sartorial***** and linguistic fabrications are too entertaining to say goodbye quite yet.
*a Tim-Gunn-like word about which Johnson wrote in 1755 that it "seems wanted in our language, has been proposed by several writers, but not yet adopted by the rest". Little did he know about 21st century interdisciplinary artists ...
**spirits that inhabit the air, the word was probably coined by Paracelsus
*** Japanese verse, consisting of 17 syllables (perhaps each rag in the train of this dress is supposed to represent a syllable?)
****nice pun, considering that the train was the wreckiest part of this dress
*****from the Latin word sartor (=tailor)
S. Robert Ramsey is professor of East Asian linguistics at the University of Maryland and author of the excellent book titled The Languages of China. I of...