or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, December 17, 2006


This UK Times Online article is about a set of fragrances which correspond to scenes in the book and movie Perfume, a set which I want very much to own but am trying very hard not to buy, especially considering that it costs $700. American dollars, at that.

Anyway. Here's a sentence from the article.

The story is larded with olfactory epiphanies: the stench of Parisian alleys, a tannery heaving with carcasses, the powdered refinement of nobility, and seductive silage of a virgin pitting plums.

Golly. Another one of those pervasive, vexing errors that no spellchecker will ever catch, that require the attentions of a talented copy editor and/or proofreader.

"Silage", the word used, means "fodder stored in a silo": that is, "silo-age". The word they were looking for is "sillage", which looks like it has something to do with windowsills ("sill-age"), but is actually pronounced in the French manner, "see-azh", and means literally "wake"--the noun, not the verb, and at that, the noun that means "the trail left by something". In perfumery, "sillage" means the overall effect of a scent (that is to say, the impression left by the middle and, more so, the base notes), or, more literally, the trail of a fragrance left behind by someone. "Seductive sillage" makes perfect sense: "seductive silage of a virgin" is merely hilarious.

It's not a particularly common word, I concede, but the writer of the article clearly knows it, and, I'm guessing, had it incorrectly corrected by an editor who noticed that the spellchecker had never seen it before: the Mac spellchecker flags it as incorrect, as does the Microsoft spellchecker.

But it's a word!


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