Words, Glorious Words!
Anti-anxiety Tool of the Week: Get outside.
Remember sunshine? Remember vitamin D? Remember the healing power of nature when our souls are disturbed? Check out this wonderful poem by Wendell Berry, "The Peace of Wild Things." Then take a walk with a friend. Or climb a tree. Or just sit on a bench in a garden.
This tool is from the first Toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
Words, Glorious Words!
You may recognize the title for this post, adapted from one of the songs in the musical, OIiver! "Food, Glorious Food." That's because I love words so much so that I just want to eat them sometimes! I guess that's not unusual for a writer. In fact, it seems to me that loving words and writing would always go hand in hand, in a chicken and egg kind of way.
My attraction to words may have started because my dad was an English teacher, drama coach, and a writer himself. Both my parents loved books, loved to read, loved reading aloud and/or being read to.
We kept a huge unabridged dictionary on a wooden stand in our dining room, centrally located so any of us could look up anything we wanted anytime. And before we were old enough to read the dictionary, we sat on it. Literally. It was solid, heavy and about a foot thick so, covered with a clean dish towel, it served as a perfect booster seat for one of the dining room chairs, once we graduated from the high chair. Like a telephone book, but more literary. And less slippery, which was more to the point.
Some people might blanch at the idea--it could get food on it, after all, or the weight of a small child could perhaps skew the binding. (Skew--there's a word I love!) But instead I think it showed me how helpful and practical, as well as magical, books and--by association--words could be.
I still can get lost in a dictionary, wandering through with a bemused look on my face reveling in the strange words and meanings I find. (Oops--that's another great word: bemused.)
So I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorite words with you (in no particular order):
Opulence - a rich word; perhaps in my subconscious I think of opals, which I love.
Magnanimous - to me it sounds just like its meaning--deliciously generous.
Bamboozle - Such a funny word. And there's the combination of "bam" with a hint of the confusion from booze. Plus, I guess I just like that "oo" sound. Skew...bemused...
Forsythia: I think I have a faint sense of accomplishment when I say this slightly exotic word--I'm sure that's because I had so much trouble learning to pronounce it when I was growing up.
Onomatopoeia (pronounced "aa·nuh·maa·tuh·pee·uh") - what an amazing word! It refers to the formulation of words that imitate a sound, like thud or buzz or sizzle. Chickadee and whippoorwill are both examples of onomatopoeia, since both birds are named for the sounds they make. That's pretty cool.
Swoop - it's not quite onomatopoeia...I wonder, is there a word that describes words that imitates motion, like swoop?
Here are a bunch of words that refer to the way words are used in writing--all of them feel delicious to me. (Note that most of these definitions come from the website Literary Terms.)
Assonance - the repetition of the sound of a vowel or diphthong in non-rhyming stressed syllables near enough to each other for the echo...like "the mishap of a calypso collapse" (which is a silly phrase I just pulled out of my head).
Aposiopesis (ap-uh-sahy-uh--pee-sis) - when a sentence is purposefully left incomplete or cut off. It’s caused by an inability or unwillingness to continue speaking. This allows the ending to be filled in by the listener’s imagination. Like "I’m so angry, I could – I could--!" (Who makes up these words?)
Synesthesia - this refers to an author's blending of human senses to describe an object, like a “loud dress” or a “chilly gaze.”
Verisimilitude - the simplest way to describe this is true to life, or believable within the context of the story. That's six syllables!
Interrobang - using two punctuation marks together for effect, usually a question mark and an exclamation point - "?!" For example, as a parent might say to a child, "You did what?!"
Stewpod: You're probably scratching your head over this one, unless you've read Newbery winner Sharon's Creech's book, Bloomability. It's a warm and whimsical middle grade novel about a beleaguered and somewhat unsophisticated girl who is scooped up by her aunt and uncle and taken to an small international school in Switzerland, where she meets kids from all over the world. A Japanese boy there pronounces "stupid" as "stew-pod" on purpose, and everyone copies him, because stew-pod sounds so much stupider than stupid! Creech, who is quite a wordmistress, has fun letting her multinational cast of characters play with the English language. And, of course, bloomability is one of their words.
There are so many more, but that's enough for now.
Until next time,
Garden, Wonderlane, unSplash
Shocked mother, June O, unSplash