Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Words, Words, Words

I have a real tendency to forget words.  I have been telling my family for years that when I'm finally old (like 98 or 105), their job is to remind me that I've always been unable to trap the right word when I need it.  It generally comes to me within an hour or so, but yikes that frustrates me.

As much as I love words, I haven't been what you might call a 'Master' of vocabulary.  However, I'm learning that sometimes not being able to immediately come up with a word that I'm looking for, forces me to be much more creative in my writing.  It gets really descriptive ... really fast.

Hah, that's a memory.  All three of us, Mom, me and Carol got really good at describing something because the word wouldn't slip off our tongue.  We also got really good at interpreting whatever in the world the others were trying to say. 

Words have always been a huge part of our lives.  I've told you before that I have fabulous memories of Mom and Dad debating the usage of a word well into the evening.

But, they still trip me up.  I don't do well at giving a precise definition when asked either.  I read like a fiend and have an incredible understanding of words when given in context, but if you ask me to break it down, I have a difficult time.

I think I'll blame mom.  As much as she and Dad gave me a love of language, at the same time, she thoroughly enjoyed messing with words, to the extent that there are still words I can't say out loud without having to stop and think through their pronunciation.

Most everyone will see this animal:

and be able to tell me that it's a rhinoceros.  I can't actually say that word without some thought and I'm betting that neither can my sister or brother.  Mom always called it a 'rhi-no-sore-ass.'  Every time.  If I don't stop and think first, I'll put the emphasis on the first syllable instead of the second and from that point on, I'm sunk.

A rabbit is a bun-rab, and the words 'antique' and 'unique' are to be pronounced as 'an-te-queue' or 'un-i-queue.' 

This stuff was commonplace in my home.

One day at work, I told Cody that I had been stall-foundered in a project.  He just looked at me like I was nuts.  He'd never heard that before.  I loudly assured him that it was a word and he asked me to prove it.  Well, huh!  I couldn't.  She'd done it to me again.  I still think it's a great word.

The other day I was obsessing over the word 'vagary' or 'vagaries.'  I'd already used it in a conversation with two different people, wanted to toss it out there in a status update, but figured that I might be over-using it, so I tried to set it aside.  When people ask me what my favorite word is, I have to admit that I might have a new one every day - whatever great and wonderful word creeps into my noggin will get spewed out everywhere.  Sometimes they are mundane words, sometimes a little more pithy, but always fun for me to use.

I do love words.  This is one of my favorite sites now - the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary online.

What are some of your favorite words?

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