Thoughtlet

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Broca

Senior Member
Italiano
I'm translating a poem into English, and the original (Italian) text says something that literally would/could (should?) be translated as "little thoughts".
But then the suffix -let came to my mind, and I thought that I could use thoughtlet. According to some online dictionaries the word actually exists, but I was wondering what would a native speaker think about a verse like this one:
"What a thoughtless father am I to my thoughtlets."

What are the connotations behind this word? Would it work in a poem? Should I use little thoughts instead?
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    "Thoughtlet" isn't a word, so it doesn't have any connotations. Most words that end in "-let" are old-fashioned, though there are exceptions such as "piglet". We can't really tell you what would work in a translated poem, especially since we don't know what the rest of your translation is like and we can't see the original. To me the wordplay you're thinking of using sounds a little comic and the style is old-fashioned, but I don't know whether that's good or bad in your context.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The OED records thoughtlet: "A small or insignificant thought"(and also the charming, but obsolete, "thoughtling") and has an example from 1997: "J. Seabrook Deeper v. 164, I don't need little sentencelets and thoughtlets and factlets in order to keep my mindlet happy!" :D

    To me, thoughtlet has exactly the nuance expressed in your example: the thoughtlet is seen as a much-loved child or favourite pet, something that the father/owner is very happy to have and keep safe and well.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't need little sentencelets and thoughtlets and factlets in order to keep my mindlet happy!" :D

    So you're agreeing Paul that "thoughtlet" works in a humorous way.:D I think that if used seriously it sounds unbearably "twee" - unless the poem being translated is pre-modern.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    No, I'm not. There are other examples of the use of the word thoughtlet that, while they conform to my feelings about the word, are not particularly humorous but nevertheless are valued by their owners:

    1820 E. Eliot Peter Faultless 20 Chaste thoughtlets, sinless as a virgin sheet.

    1858 H. W. Beecher Life Thoughts (1859) 74 Mosses and inconspicuous blooms hidden in the grass—thoughtlets, the intents of the heart.

    1863 Reader 22 Aug. Mere vendors of what may be called carefully-connected thoughtlets.

    1921 Musical Q. 7 4 With our modernists matters are reversed: instead of dressing their thoughtlets in their favourite manner, they handle only such little ideas as will fit their stereotype manner of dressing.

    The concurrent use of thoughtlings indicates to me that writers have felt the occasional need for the word and that, at the end of the day, "thoughtlet" won but only has a toe-hold as a "real" word. the OP has said this is poetry and I quite like "What a thoughtless father am I to my thoughtlets."
     
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