Words!

 

Hello folks! As some of you might know, the English Language is one of my greatest loves in life. Unfortunately however, rather than expressing this love by writing for a living or attempting to exorcise the one novel everyone supposedly has within them, I tend to go off on rants and tangents. I’m really trying to cut back on my tendency to correct people’s grammar (unless I’m deliberately winding them up). However, I find the language so interesting that I’ll often start a sentence with “actually, did you know…” and before long I’ve made this sort of thing happen:

 

Dave wasn't interested in the surprising origin of the word 'quaint'.

 

That’s if they stay awake. I honestly don’t mean to bore you all, my lovely friends, I just really…bloody…LOVE words. I find them fascinating. I mean, did you know that the word awesome and the word awful once meant exactly the same thing? The thing is though, the language has no room for two words that perform exactly the same function, so over time it organically causes one word to either become positive (or retain its original meaning), whilst the other pejorates, thus fulfilling a need. It’s why we have the words start, begin and commence in our language. Technically they all mean the exact same thing, but they stay in the language because they have slightly different connotations and fulfill different needs at different times. I can’t explain exactly why I find this so fascinating, but when I’m mid-tangent I also can’t understand why people appear to be falling asleep or playing games of Subbutteo in their heads.

Misspell at your peril.

A good jumping-off point might be this sentence:

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana”.

I love this sentence more than I can explain, but ask me why and your eyes will probably glaze over and I’ll go in a huff.

So what’s in a word? It’s hard to explain why I find them so fascinating. I know it’s a dull subject for many people. After all, Lyons wrote that a word is “a grammatical unit which is marked within the clause by positional mobility, uninterruptability and internal stability”.

Not exactly magical is it? In fact it’s a fairly formal, even boring definition of the word. Do I still love the little buggers though?

Abso-fucking-lutely.

love Shambles

x

Questions or comments? Do you have a favourite word/phrase/sentence? Feel free to comment below! Oh and if you spotted the ever-so-slightly pretentious joke, you win a muffin. Guesses below!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Words!

  1. Rob says:

    I’ve had this conversation with you before but I find dialect more interesting. A new one for me. Smashin. It’s a great word and allthough it’s probably not related. But the gaelic for “that is good” is “is math sin” pronounced Is ma shin

  2. Shambles says:

    Well luckily it’s not really an either/or situation. As I said, I love the English Language: that includes dialect :)

    That’s actually a really good example of how there’s quite a lot of Gaelic influence on Scottish English. I assume you didn’t nick that from my facebook page though, since you’re telling me it :P It’s nice to know we each have someone we can tell interesting dialectal oddities to.

  3. Fiona Wilson says:

    I did not spot the joke. I am saddened by this.

    Lately I’ve been wondering if Te Deum and tedium are related. Not enough to go and look it up, you understand, just enough to mean to get round to looking it up sometime.

  4. Jef says:

    My mum loves that point about the word smashin’, and tells everyone at every opportunity.

    I love words. Usually I’m preoccupied with how they work in another language, but linguistics in general really float my boat. You can talk at me anytime you like and I won’t make the face. x

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