George Souleret, whom I met during his time with University Facilities as an HVAC Engineer, nominated this week’s word. I saw it first as “perforation,” and wondered to what new uses that old term had been put.
Blame bifocals or autocorrect, but I need to thank George for teaching an old faculty member a new word that he most certainly should know. According to the OED, our word is a speech (sometimes just the end of one) or discourse in general. I often tell students that academic discourse as we know it, as well as reasoned debate in the Western tradition, began in the era of Socrates. I visited the site of the Athenian Agora in 2007, and to me it was as sacred an experience as I’ll ever have in this life.
We have some excellent perorations, such as Pericles’ famous funeral oration, given before the great plague of Athens, a story that we may wish to revisit today. That epidemic swept away Pericles and two of his sons.
On a lighter note, I love one current usage given: “A perfectly dreadful hour-long peroration by an American scholar.”
Thus I’ll spare you a dreadful peroration on peroration. In an election year, I expect we’ll have our share of perorations, some dreadful, a few delightful.
But the term does provide a formal and Latinate synonym that, in the right place, provides an option to “speech,” “presentation,” and other similar terms.
image of the Stoa of Attalos, housing the Athenian Agora Museum by me, 2007.