Words, words, words

In Act 2, scene 2 of Hamlet, Polonius asks Hamlet:
‘What do you read, my Lord?’ and he replies,
‘Words, words, words.’ And then Polonius asks,
‘What is the matter, my Lord?’ And Hamlet says,
‘Between who?’

For some reason, (Hamlet was part of the course-work of my ‘A’ Lit exam, which I took at the age of 66…) the above stuck in my head. It emphasized just how language can be manipulated to be ambiguous or otherwise. It is to the point, simple and concise. Studying Shakespeare, more specifically ‘Hamlet,’ opened my half-closed eyes to the full magic and surprises that await those who study language in more depth. Of course, University students would be appalled at my ‘late learning,’ but I use the ‘better late than never’ cliché unashamedly. World War II, ‘business’ and mothering three sons came first!

Although I had already had two factual books published, I had never studied the art of using words and writing as deeply before then. And, whereas at college I had been exposed to Shakespeare, it didn’t ‘grab me’ in the same way as it did years later. I then devoured it as if it was the most seductive bar of dark chocolate ever manufactured! How I blessed the chance to catch up on at least some of my neglected education. Fortunately, my thirst for knowledge has never left me, and now I’m retired, it brings me great joy. If there are any readers who believe that so-called ‘old age’ (I’m a re-cycled, re-cycled teenager…) is a deterrent to learning, I beg them to think again.

There are approximately 1,025,109.8 words in the English dictionary, (as of 2nd January), so us writers are completely spoilt for choice. The teaser, of course, is – which words to choose! And I have read that 14 new words are created each day, so there is no excuse. It’s a fact though, that some words stick in the throat. I mean, what misguided scholar thought to define beautiful as pulchritude? Contrarily, what a deliciously descriptive word is curmudgeon (a bad-tempered or mean person), and don’t you just love the word pauciloquent (an utterer of few words: brief in speech). You won’t find many in Ireland that’s for sure. Another word I have just come across is the delightful bibble. (a Mr.Bean special): to drink often; drink or eat noisily. Definitely belongs in a Dickens tale. What about logorrhea: an excessive flow of words (more polite than choosing a literary diarrhoea). Although to write: Mr. Kimble’s senses were keen, especially his macrosmatic (good sense of smell) is a bit OTT unless you’re an English professor – or even a professor of English…And, for anyone familiar with the character Baldric in Black Adder – I’ve just discovered that baldric is a shoulder strap for holding a sword. How disappointing.

I have an admission to make here. I have been studying ‘The Phrontistery’ a ‘thinking place.’ Ignoramus that I am, I had never heard of it, but it is a fascinating place to be and to look up weird/unusual and prosaic words and their meanings. Take the unusual tittynope. Surely it can’t mean No more breast milk for you, sunshine! It doesn’t. It means a small quantity of something left over. Fun, eh!

‘Dig and ye shall find’ is my quest for 2016, and I didn’t even know until then that I had a new year resolution.…

 
Copyright Joy Lennick 2016 All rights reserved.
 

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6 thoughts on “Words, words, words

  1. Entertaining, enthusiastic ( as always) vibrant descriptions, and a humorous approach to all those tongue twisting and virtually unpronounceable words!…. Great piece Joy!

  2. Did you know that ‘Logophobia’ is an obsessive fear of words? Or that ‘Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia’ is a fear of long words? Try saying that after a few glasses of wine.. or sober even!

  3. I completed a course in Special Education in MA when I turned 65. The body might be limping a wee bit but the brain just keeps on tickin’. Turn 71 next week and working on my second novel. Life is good if you live it.

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