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 –