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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Friday Focus

Cultivating a love of words

The writer has many tools in their box, of these, words surely are the most important. The more you enjoy words, the better you will use them. That’s not to say you have to know the meaning or history of every word you use, but sometimes really understanding a word will add a new dimension to it, which will allow you to use it in a refreshing or different way, and that will lift your writing. Similarly, it might suggest not using it, and that, too, might benefit your writing. Besides all that – words are so much fun.
Not all words are created equal, of course, and we all have favourites and least favourites. ‘Moist’, I believe, is among the least favourite of many. Personally, if I can get through life without using the word ‘pulchritudinous’ I will be very happy, especially as this (imo) extremely ugly word means ‘very beautiful’. I suspect that said with an Italian accent ‘pulchritude’ is not so bad.
Favourite words. Now, that’s hard. But I do love the word ‘capricious’. I could write a whole article on this word. It sort of comes from the word for ‘goat’ (think ‘Capricorn’) and the way they move and behave. This is one of the reasons I love the word – I have a huge fondness for goats! I think it’s a good thing to know what influences your love (or dislike of words too – often they have personal associations). But ‘capricious’ also comes from an Italian word for a lively piece of ‘free’ music, and that comes from the term for the hairs standing up on the back of your neck … and that comes from a combination of two words meaning ‘head’ and ‘hedgehog’!!!! So it can have rather spooky connotations (a word that itself has an interesting history, coming from ‘con’ – together with, and ‘nota’ – to mark/note, so it means ‘an additional meaning’).

Random Friday facts:
*The word ‘jot’ and the word ‘iota’ are, in fact, the same word. The letter ‘j’ did not exist in the classical world and was, instead, written ‘ie’ (which, to confuse things more, looks like IH in Greek). Iota is the name of the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet and is the smallest - simply a ‘jot’ (the Ancient Greeks didn’t dot their ‘I’s).
*Speaking of which, the word Alphabet is from the first two letters of the Greek, well, Alphabet – Alpha and Beta.
*Did you know that the word ‘Conversation’ shares a root with ‘convert’ and has to do with the fact that a good conversation should change both the participants’ mind sets?
*The word ‘conspire’ comes from the same root as ‘inspire’ and ‘expire’. It literally means ‘to breathe together’.
*Similar to the word ‘inspire’, the word ‘enthuse’ (enthusiasm) also means to be filled with the breath of the divine. It comes initially from religious fervour associated with the worship of Apollo.
*Finally: the word for a lover of words is ‘logophile’.

So, there you are. Collect words, understand words, fall in love with words, use words to maximum effect and watch your writing come alive.



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