[Ads-l] paracosm

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 4 17:13:33 EDT 2018

The term "paracosm" apparently appears in a 1991 book by David Cohen and Stephen A. MacKeith, The Development of Imagination: the Private Worlds of Childhood, Routledge.

The term appears in a review of the book in the Sydney Morning Herald, July 6, 1991, page 42.  The review notes that the Silvey died before completion of the work, suggesting, perhaps, that he had been working on it with the authors?

[Excerpt] Nevertheless, this is an invaluable collection of more than 60 examples of children's imaginary worlds (here termed "paracosms"), many of them supported by elaborate documentation . . . . [End Excerpt]

A lengthy obituary in The Guardian (October 6, 1995, page 17), credits both MacKeith and Silvey with coining the word:

[Excerpt]Well into his seventies, MacKeith started yet another branch of his professional career.  For some years he had been working with his old friend, Robert Silvey, on a particular interest of theirs, the subject of "paracosms", their own term for the private worlds created and elaborated by children and retained by some adults . . . .[End Excerpt]

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM>
Sent: Monday, June 4, 2018 9:30 AM
Subject: paracosm

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Subject:      paracosm

In the recent Guardian article "How Tolkien created Middle-earth=E2=80=9D =
(31 May 2018, https://bit.ly/2xw3RyZ), Samantha Shannon writes:

Yet fierce passion for his work endures, and even his harshest critics =
will concede that few creators have succeeded in building a paracosm =
that touches the depth of Middle-earth.

The word =E2=80=9Cparacosm=E2=80=9D is in Wikipedia =
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracosm =
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paracosm>), Wiktionary =
(https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/paracosm =
<https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/paracosm>) and Vocabulary.com =
<http://vocabulary.com/> (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/paracosm =
<https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/paracosm>) but is not in the =
English Oxford Living Dictionaries.=20

According to a 1995 obituary of Stephen MacKeith (https://ind.pn/2Hk1H4Y =
<https://ind.pn/2Hk1H4Y>), he coined the word. According to the =
Wikipedia article, however, the concept was fist described by Robert =
Silvey, and then researched by MacKeith and David Cohen, and the word =
was coined by Ben Vincent.=20

The earliest citation on the Wikipedia page is 1998 in "The Paracosm: a =
special form of fantasy=E2=80=9D.

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA=

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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