The writing prompt for day 3, which I’m doing in an extraordinarily half-assed manner for reasons I’ll explain in a sec, is to come up with a new word, define it and then insert it into my vocabulary and everyday use. Here is my reasoning for the half-assed manner.
I hate this one.
That’s an exaggeration. I don’t hate it, but I’m not a fan. There are so many words that already exist that are beautiful and underused and underappreciated that I already don’t know the definition for and I’m supposed to ignore them and come up with something new? I make up words often. Just a few posts ago I used the non-existent word uncomfortability. I’m likely not the first, nor the last to do so. I don’t need to come up with a definition, it seems fairly apparent to me what the word means (the ability to be uncomfortable?) and I used it in a moderately coherent sentence so the point I was trying to make, ideally happened. More or less, barring that whole perspective being subjective thing.
Now, this is not to suggest that no one else should do this challenge. In fact, I was reading some of the words the other challengees (<-there’s another one!) were coming up with and there are some really clever and inventive people out there. Would I use some of the words they created? Probably. Just as soon as I get to the point where I can remember the difference between vicissitude(variation in fortune, not always for the better) and verisimilitude(having the appearance of truth). Or mellifluous(pleasing to the ear) and munificent (extremely generous), obdurate(stubbornly persistent in wrong-doing; an obdurate prime minister?) and obfuscate(make obscure or unclear), sanguine(optimistic in a difficult situation), salient(most noticeable) and sedulous(showing dedication, diligence)… these are all worthy words and I don’t use them enough. Now you want me to come up with more? Ok, fine.
How about effluschism? A division caused by bullshit. Now I have to use it in a sentence.
‘No one could remember why the capulets and the montagues hated each other so much. So much time had passed since the original insult that we had long since chalked it up to a typical effluschism.’
Yeah. It just feels silly.
Words are such beautiful living things. They adapt and shift with time and language, they are used to cause pain, to heal broken hearts, they deserve to be celebrated. It makes me so sad when I see the short hand, the 733t speak, whatever it’s called. I’m torn between thinking it’s horrifically ugly and wondering if it’s just one more evolution. Though, even if it is, I’ll stay a dinosaur and get taken out by a word comet. If you get an email or a text message from me, it’s going to be addressed to you, not u. If I don’t have the time to type two more letters, there had better be a real goddamn dinosaur chasing me. Because no one is in that much of a hurry.
Does that make me a language snob? Maybe. If so, I don’t really care. I’m really sorry that my oh-you-refuse-to-write-actual-words-filter is keeping us from being the best of friends but I’m sure you’ll get over it.
That said, I’m not the spelling and grammar police. I know that not everyone has an easy time with language. Expecting that everyone will have the same skill set with regards to spelling and grammar (especially in english where the rules are sooo wonky most of the time) is akin to expecting that every single person is amazing at math. Or cartwheels. Or making friends with lemurs. It just doesn’t happen. Even if every human on earth was raised in exactly the same learning environment, there would still be some good at spelling, some good at math, some good at baking, some good at driving, some good at time management..etc.
My desire to have a life filled with an expressive vocabulary and a variety of language is not dependent on friends and loved ones knowing how to spell. I understand Shakespeare (which some would say is written in an archaic fashion) just as readily as I understand a shorthand text message. I grasp the intent the symbols intend to communicate. I just won’t enjoy reading the text message as much as the Shakespeare. And for me, that’s what it comes down to.
Is it enough to merely communicate? In some instances, yes. If I’m meeting you at three around back of the hall, that might not be the time for a dissertation on the merits of community halls having a consistent layout so there is no confusion about which is the back. I’ll walk around the damn building until I find you. And then we can talk about whatever you want. If I use a word you don’t understand, ask me what it means. Don’t think to yourself, ‘she’s a haughty minx’ I’m going to look that up when I get home and then pretend I knew what it meant later but secretly resent her for it. That’s a true story, but I don’t know that he would have used the word haughty. Or the word minx, for that matter.
If we were only meant to communicate in a most basic fashion, I don’t know that our languages would have progressed to the point they have. And I love words, in most languages. I say that because there are some languages I haven’t heard yet. No one has talked to me in Basque…hmm..I’m actually hard pressed to think of another language I haven’t heard before. I’m sure there are some tribes of humans who live somewhere I haven’t visited who speak a language I’ve never heard, but I don’t know who they are yet since I haven’t visited them. And there are likely some languages that when I hear them, I think, I’m pretty sure I know the region that comes from but I’m not completely sure as to exactly which language that is. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way. But it’s a fact, many of the nordic languages have a similarity to me. I’ll have to spend more time visiting everywhere so that my ears become more attuned to the subtleties. Or in some cases, the obviouses (<-I did it again!!!)
This doesn’t even touch on the eloquence of non-verbal communication but that’s a post for another time.
Hilarious. I just wrote over 1000 words about how I am refusing to do this challenge. It seems a little profligate (recklessly wasteful) of me to be so verbose (containing too many words) with regards to something I hadn’t planned to do. In the future I shall strive to be closer to pithy (concise and full of meaning).
Though I can’t promise I will always be either concise or full of meaning at the same time, there’s every possibility I’ll end up somewhere in between.
Balance, darlings. It’s a beautiful thing.