A wise Canadian friend and fellow blogger, called Pamela Quiall (Butterfly Sand), who happens to have Multiple Sclerosis (as she would put it…) has just written an excellent post about that very handy little word ‘and’. It’s value just cannot be overestimated, for what would we do without our fish and chips, Derby and Joan, night and day, light and dark, et al? It is such a connecting, linking word and crops up all over the place in countless situations. Also, suggesting connecting as it does, it gives one a feeling of continuity and friendship…ie “You and me.” What a wonderful world it could be if we all made friends with each other. Just call me a cock-eyed optimist…
Coincidentally, as I read her piece, I was reminded about one I intended to write about ‘if’ and ‘but,’ for, what powerful words they also are… It is now quite common to use both and, and but to start a sentence, whereas in the not too distant past, the pedants would be jumping up and down in annoyance.
Often, of a winter evening, ‘im indoors and I like watching TV or reading, and now and then, catch a cold-case murder or two (of which there are far too many…) as detective work fascinates me. How many times do you hear the words: “If only the deceased hadn’t taken that lonely road (or hitch-hiked)…” but of course hindsight and caution don’t always play their roles in real life well, do they?! If only we were more logical, especially when young… There was one particularly tragic case in the United States where a woman living on her own forgot to lock the front door and a passing nut-case calmly walked in and strangled her. A real-life tragedy. “If only…” immediately comes to mind.
Naturally, in everyday life, whatever language we use to describe situations or actions however delightful, desirable or dire, it can mean diddly-squat as far as the truth of the situation itself is concerned, but us writers should give thanks to all the academics who worked on languages to give us such a huge variety of valuable words to use in our often wonderful and entertaining ‘fictitious and true’ stories. Where would we be without them!
Just small, innocuous words, but what an expression is “If only..” It suggests so much more: a vague or deep-felt desire or passionate yearning maybe, that we had answered an important letter, or kept a certain date that might have changed our life. “But I changed my mind…” too could suggest a life-altering decision and be veiled with regret…
Whatever words we use when writing, we should – when thinking straight – use them wisely.
And what a wealth of other, pleasing, words there are at our disposal. Most writers have their favourites. The following are just some of mine: scrumptious – so descriptive – I can almost taste a toasted bun dripping with butter, or a yummy chocolate cake; glutton: a jolly Billy Bunter type digging in to a huge fry-up…(all of which says a lot about me, except for the fry-up) and Salacious: fondly-remembered… sexual desires (“Ooh, George…”). I could, of course, could go on and on.
“If ifs and buts were buttercups, what a golden world it would be” Anon.
Suffice it to say, there are so many immediately identifiable words that fit their purpose and it is natural, according to our particular taste, which ones we choose. Then there are words which we cannot take to. To use a word like pulchritude to describe beautiful is beyond me… and antediluvian (old-fashioned), is another weird one. I am no academic, but I’m sure there are many tomes on the English language to dig in to. It’s a fascinating subject.
Whatever words YOU use, may they be lucky ones.
© Copyright Joy Lennick 2022
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