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Words, Words, Words

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By Kimara - Posted on 20 April 2009

I love words and the subtle nuances the perfectly chosen word denotes. Why use the word “wavy” when you can use “undulate”? Why use “excess” when “plethora” has the audio equivalent of the bouquet of the finest wine? And why should I settle for a flat sounding word like “wordy” when “verbose” more fully expresses my propensity to prattle incessantly? The English language has a rich heritage which makes learning grammar and vocabulary a challenge, but it also adds to the beauty and intrigue of both the written and spoken word.

My interest in the English language began early. I remember one lovely summer day when I was around 4. My mom was out and about and my father was left with not only the responsibility of supervising the children, but to make sure we didn’t trash the house my mother had just cleaned. Piece of cake. It was a hot summer’s day, there was water in our little pool, and a baseball game on the transistor. My dad could do this all day, or at least as long as the baseball game lasted. So, my brother and I were contently splashing in the pool, soaking up the rays, when I got one of my first scathingly brilliant ideas. We could play soda shop. We just needed a few essential props from the kitchen. As we headed toward the house, my father stopped us.

Dad: Where ya goin’?

Me: We need some stuff from the kitchen.

Dad: Fine. Just don’t get the linoleum wet. Mom just cleaned in there.

We entered the house. My brother and I stood in the middle of the kitchen, creating a small pond under our feet.

Me: What’s “nanoleum”?

Brother: Beats me. I think it’s the curtains.

When we didn’t make a timely return, Dad followed us inside. After he hydroplaned across the room, we learned very quickly that linoleum was another word for the floor. As the sting from a whack across my butt wore off, I can remember wondering, why hadn’t he just said floor? But later that day I found myself repeating the word linoleum over and over again. Say it aloud a few times. Linoleum, linoleum, linoleum. Feels good in your mouth, doesn’t it? So although my introduction to the word linoleum came at a price, in the long run it was worth it.

One of my roommates in college was dating a guy that I thought was an arrogant narcissistic. They were both in their first year of medical school. She was lovely, but he believed himself to be far above the plebeians that surrounded him. He had a friend that often came over. When the two of them got together, they often began to speak in a foreign language. It was a strange blend of English and an unknown vernacular. Although I normally tried to ignore them, I was drawn to their strange banter. I was finally able to ascertain that they were, in fact, speaking English. They were just using words that normally only surfaced toward the end of advanced vocabulary exams, and admittedly, the average person would find it near impossible to comprehend their almost cryptic repartee. Granted, they did this mainly for sport, and although they were inarguably ostentatious, I could not fault them for taking the opportunity to make use of their extensive vocabulary. Although I still thought him an insensitive cad, I must admit I was filled with awe for his mastery of the English language.

Possessing an imposing vocabulary is more than a parlor trick. It is power, and knowledge, and beauty. For that reason when I had my children, I believed it their incontrovertible birth right to be exposed to a rich and expansive vocabulary. Very early on I exposed them to a vocabulary that far exceeded their stature and embraced every opportunity to expand their personal dictionary.

I remember sitting on my back deck at our house in Kentucky. My youngest was napping and my two oldest, 6 and 4 approached me.

4 year old: Mommy, can we have licorice?

Me: Okay. But just 1 each.

Several minutes later, I espied the 2 walking through the backyard, each toting a beer!

Me: (Befuddled, bewildered and besot!) What are you guys doing with a beer?

My 6 year old daughter gave her 4 year old brother a look that implied… “I told you so.”

4 year old: “You said we could have licorice.”

Ah, I got it! Note to self… explain the difference between licorice and liquor, which I did after I confiscated the beers!

Not only does an impressive command of the English language allow you to communicate in an accurate and expressive manner, there is a beauty and symmetry that is personally enriching! 

Impressive thoughts. I like reading your ideas here. - Flemings Ultimate Garage

I remember the first time I read one of your blogs. I had to look up a couple of words. I told DH that I loved how you wrote, you were so funny, but you also were smart. From that point on I find I often need to look up a word you use but that is good. You are not ostentatious (hehe yes I looked it up, plus a couple more today) but you do challenge your readers. You are not a docile read!!! You must have about fell over when you saw your kiddos walking the yard drinking a beer! Thanks goodness they didn't drink it out of sight! Too, too funny. Have a great week all!