Doubleplusungood

I admit it – I’m a word nerd; derived from the Latin Dictum Nerdica.  I’m also a Grammar Geek (ok, ok Grammaticus Geekicus). I think I was the only kid in 7th grade typing English that liked to diagram sentences.  My typing sucked but I could spot an appositive a mile away.

I’m fond of adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs, gerunds, prepositions etc. (Please be advised: I don’t quite trust the subjunctive case, however). Our lexicon is rich with variety – we have so much freedom to express ourselves using layers of meaning, double entendre, metaphor, subtle shades of description; we have synonyms abound to choose from; we have slang – we have it all.  Yet we also have this:

I don’t understand why we have to have so many words to describe something- why can’t we just have the one and be done?

Why do you have to use such big words? Do you think you’re better than me?

I want to rip my hair from my head and run screaming at these sentiments.  Why would anyone want to relegate themselves to a limited vocabulary? Who wants to live with the choice of plusgood  or plusungood*? I do not.  I need words – I love words. I love to collect them, pore over them, roll them around in my mind until I find the precise word to express exactly how I’m feeling or the message I want to convey.  And I often misuse words, at times to my chagrin, but there’s a lesson to be learned in that as well. It takes a little courage to use a new word. We are all of us vulnerable when trying out a new skill – and like many things, it takes practice before we feel truly confident.

I also love sharing words – I want you to find delight in a new word. I don’t want to obfuscate with words – I want to open up a window to something new.  But you might think “I don’t know that word – it intimidates me”.  Words do not intimidate; they just are – they may be new and unfamiliar but you always have the ability to rectify the situation from ‘the unknown’ to ‘the known’.   A dictionary is a beautiful reference tool.

And never be afraid to inquire about the meaning of word. It does not imply ignorance – it shows a willingness to expand one’s mind and absorb something new. It means someone is listening to what is being said and desires to learn the meaning.   It expands one’s world as well.  My son is never shy about asking the meaning of an unfamiliar word – he never feels intimidated by ‘big’ words – it is that child-like wonder and curiosity that allows his mind to grow and take in new experiences. Adults need that too.   I firmly believe that the more we are willing to explore knowledge unknown to us the more we are open to new ideas. If I choose to limit myself to 4 adjectives, for example – my world is that much narrower and my mind that much more closed to anything that is not covered by those 4 adjectives.  I may not be willing to accept something unknown or different because I have made myself believe that ‘not knowing’ is equated to admitting ‘ignorance’ or I’ve convinced myself that the other person thinks they are superior to me.  This is just not so -

I’m not denying that people use language to obscure meaning – however, many people take wonderful things and use them for a nasty purpose – but we shouldn’t blame words when clearly the bloviating idiot uttering them is at fault.  I sincerely hope that when I use language in a playful manner that people are not thinking that I’m showing off or trying to make them feel dull – I’m just writing that which tickles my fancy.  I’m a huge fan of an awkward turn of phrase and arcane words.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t know – I just wanted to talk about words and how much I love them and how I think about them…Expressing these random thoughts makes me less fratchy (It’s ok – you can look it up, I had to as well – I hope you like it…it’s become a favorite of mine).

If you’re interested – this is one of my favorite daily emails: A Word a Day; if not – that’s ok too.

Do you, per chance, have a favorite word?
________________________________________________________________

*1984 ~ George Orwell….haven’t read it? It’s a good read – 

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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Language, Philosophy, Random Thoughts, Words, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

433 Responses to Doubleplusungood

  1. bethteliho says:

    The word “nefarious” lights up my body like a candle. Not in a sexual way (that would be weird), but in a ILOVETHATSOMUCH way. Words do that to me. “Wilt” kills me, too. I don’t know why. It’s a visceral response to….vocabulary? Yup. I get you, chica. I really do.

  2. Pingback: Feature Friday: The Mercenary Researcher | Stuphblog

  3. Mrs. P says:

    Halleluiah…a wonderful post from before my time has resurfaced and given me a few moments of joy. I absolutely love the way you make vocabulary and learning new vocabulary not just acceptable but inviting.

    When I was teaching, I often discussed that the only difference between the reading level of my students and the reading level on the classes both ahead and behind theirs was simply vocabulary! Vocabulary allows you to express yourself more exactly and we would give examples of writing the same sentence in its simplest and more complex forms.

    The other thing we did was Word A Day in school. Once they learned the word they would shout out sentences using it and I would write them down on the board. It was part of our daily morning start up before beginning reading.

    Each child also had their own dictionary and were invited to look up words when they didn’t know. They were also allowed to just come ask what a word meant while they were developing their dictionary proficiency. As often as possible, if they were learning a new word from their reader, I would show them the actual thing. I had a basket that had things like: cotton bolls, flint, plumes, slate, etc. I had larger items in a cupboard like 45s, LPs and records were all unknown words and I would have to show them what these were.

    It was a pleasure to read this post!

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