Its association with a whiter shade of pale nothwithstanding, this word has always seemed rather florid to me, with its wide-open a‘s like an arm flourish and its bouncy nasals with stops. Its object is a lively dance in 3/4 time, fitting for a word that springs in three steps from the front of the mouth to the back. How light can the light fandango be? And would vestal virgins leaving for the coast take time for it, really? Much more likely Scaramouche – but he’d do it to a Bohemian rhapsody, which might cause thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening. Well, and the word does have those fang and fungus resonances, which apparently didn’t help the computer game Grim Fandango to get enough dang fans. The dance (and music) is brought by the grace of Spain, whence medially also this word; the word’s ultimate source may be African, but the steps have not been traced back, etymologically. The word has a sense of dance about it, anyway, and enthusiasm too. The dance could be a fan dance, perhaps like a tango (with music by Django Reinhardt?), originally done by the Mandingo. But whatever it is, it’s what you get when fantastic meets hot dang.
Songs of Love and Grammar
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