splanchnic

Ohhh, this is a messy-looking word. It seems sort of like the sound a Foley artist would come up with for some alien creature’s evisceration of a particularly pyknic space cadet. The effect is as gruesome whether you construe the ch as an affricate or say it properly as [k]. Dear, dear… that spl seems so often to come with messes: splat, splash, splatter, splodge, splutter; even splay and split can be messy, and spleen has its own unpleasantness. And Let me ‘splain, officer is just the beginning of a mess that will take some guts to deal with.

Which brings us back to splanchnic. No, it’s not an alien’s picnic in a splatter flick. If it provokes a visceral reaction, then that’s appropriate: it means “visceral” – of, involving, or related to your innards. It comes from Greek splagkhnon (the g – gamma – is pronounced as a velar nasal before the kh – a chi), which refers to those parts which, when we find them in edible animals, we refer to as organ meats (ignoring the fact that muscles are also organs).

Hm! Well, this word does seem to have sent them through an organ grinder, or at least to have monkeyed around with them so that they’re wurst for the wear. In any event it doesn’t have much vowel movement; in fact, with three consonants, one vowel, three consonants (we’re counting sounds, not letters), one vowel, and one more consonant – that’s seven to two – it has quite the case of consonantipation. Yet mixed with that partially eaten lunch is some panic; if you hoped your plans would be a cinch, you have some sorting out to do… in order not to snap at the clinch you need to get your guts in order. And that takes heart, intestinal fortitude, and, well, lungs, liver, kidneys…

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