Tag Archives: what do you call bad writing

There’s a Word for That: Pekoral

atkins-bookshelf-wordsHave you ever read a really bad novel (very often self-published) by an author who is trying to imitate some rather unpromising genre (eg, romance)? Well, there is a word for that: pekoral. The word was coined by a Swedish critic, Hans Kuhn, who presumably read his share of poorly written novels. The word is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word peku, meaning livestock or cattle and the Latin word pecora, meaning large herd animal. Kuhn was probably more interested in the pejorative meaning of cattle: i.e.,  a mindless group of people.

The secondary meaning of pekoral is  a parody of poor writing by a character in a novel that is recreated in the novel’s text. Finally, Glosbe, the Swedish-English online dictionary, provides a third definition: “a text written in a grandiloquent or pompous style but lacking literary quality, thus making it overly pretentious or ridiculous; doggerel, twaddle.” Laurie Henry, in The Fiction Dictionary, notes, “A pekoral is different from a parody in that the pekoral may not be comic, while a parody usually is. As with a parody, however, appreciation of a pekoral rests on the reader’s knowing both the work being parodied and understanding why the work is deserving of parody.” To that we can only add, “Moo!”

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