A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

Sobacos & Escrotos
Wednesday, June 20, 2012



sobaco.
(De or. inc.).


1. m. Concavidad que forma el arranque del brazo con el cuerpo.
2. m. Ángulo de una parte de la planta con el tronco.
3. m. Cada espacio que deja en un cuadrado el círculo inscrito en él.
4. m. Pez plectognato semejante al pez ballesta.
Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados

Every language has terrible sounding words. In my Focal Point nude photograph class there is one word I use (and in such a class I am perfectly justifiable to do so) that will invariably make my students wince. That word is scrotum. As a man I do not find the exterior of man’s principle reproductive organ (or at the very least the second one) a very pretty thing. In fact very few of my female students have ever admitted to seeing one they liked.

Rebecca may have been around 7 when I took her to the Museum of Anthropology. We sat down and studied Bill Reid’s The Raven and the First Men in detail. We walked behind and she noticed the squatting men holding up the platform that supports the raven. She asked me, “What’s that?” I answered directly, “That’s a scrotum.” I explained its purpose. Perhaps I introduced her to the birds and the bees before her father did! A year later while visiting the Seattle Art Museum we went into a salon that featured ancient Greek vases. From one end of the room Rebecca yelled at me loudly, to the horror of the people who were there, “Papi come and see the scrotums.”

Scrotum in Spanish is no prettier, escroto. Spanish, a melodious language still spits this one out with enough verve to coat a mirror.

In my photo classes at Focal Point my students soon learn that in portraiture and in nude figure photography I have a fondness for showing hands, always in a graceful manner. Hands, after the face, tell us the most about a person. My students also know my obsessive pet peeve. I instruct them never (and I always repeat never) to show neck folds or ugly armpit folds. One of the reasons for this prohibition is that when you look at a photograph you usually look first at the blackest black. With few
exceptions that black is the neck fold or the armpit fold!


An armpit does not flow. No poet except Ogden Nash may have been tempted to use it in iambic pentameter. But consider the word in Spanish, sobaco. I can assert here that sobaco is as bad as a word gets. A close second is Spanish for lap (as in a human lap), regazo.

When I looked up sobaco in my on line Real Academia Dictionary I was surprised to find out that the word is supposed to be of uncertain origin. Also surprising is its third meaning. When you inscribe a circle in a square the four corner spaces are sobacos!



     

Previous Posts
Ghosts In My Memory's Imagination

A Measure Of A Man Lapsed - Part II

El Abanico - Folded & Opened Again

Bard's Macbeth, A Damn Good Fight

Una Rosa Y Milton

Roofers & Printers Shared A Penchant For Drink

Niña Frida

A Solitude of Solitudes

Havisham - Give Me A Male Corpse

That Hussy Fair Bianca & Beethoven Condensed



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11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17