I have Jemi and Marcy to thank for this post. Jemi directed me to the blog where I found this post the other day (you must read it!). Marcy wrote on linguistics on Saturday, which I found fascinating as well.
So, vocabulary. Right up there with diagramming sentences in English class, right? (Well, okay, I liked diagramming sentences, but I’m a grammar nerd).
I can’t decide which way to go with this so it is going to be a completely random post. I find the concept of developing vocabulary fascinating, especially the process I’ve watched over the past 3 1/2 years as my son grew from saying, “Bye!” (his first word, which was bothersome to me at the time because I felt I spent way too much time saying it to him while working “full-time”) to “I want tea!” (his first sentence, requesting the amazing sweet tea from McAlister’s Deli) to telling me today while helping carry groceries that he is strong and has 40 muscles. Then when I said he has more than 40 muscles, he decided to look up how many muscles he has on his “imaginary computer” at bigmuscles.com (he came up with that URL, and, yes, he won’t be let near the computer without supervision anytime soon… there’s no telling what he’d get into! Also, does the fact he knows that websites end with dot com mean that I spend way too much time on the internet? In case you are interested, bigmuscles.com is available for purchase and there are between 640 and 850 muscles in the human body, depending on who you ask). Anyway… the whole process of watching children learn to speak is just fascinating to me. I’ve never learned a foreign language by immersion but I would assume it is a similar experience. And then kids come out with the most amazing things to say and ways to use language. I think perhaps part of being a good writer is going back to the fascination kids have with words and putting phrases together and inventing new ways to see things.
I also find my lack of vocabulary frustrating at times. I overuse words and use lame adjectives and say extremely and actually too often. Then again, I don’t want to sound like a walking dictionary either. (My sisters accuse me of this when we play Boggle… and that is only when I pull out words such as lam. I don’t even attempt words such as qua when playing with them! Also, I must admit I learned the word “qua” playing Facebook’s version of Scrabble and have never used it in a sentence) I know that even published authors overuse words and phrases at times (I am always struck by JK Rowling’s overuse of the world ‘forcibly’ when reading through Harry Potter books… and, yes, I do overuse the phrase ‘struck by’). It is something I am working on changing.
I also thought I’d do the opposite of Talli’s blog post (linked above) and list some of my favorite English words. I haven’t spent much time thinking of them (I actually thought of doing this in the middle of the night last night).. but here are a few!
- Periwinkle (and many other colors: cornflower, aquamarine, goldenrod… basically I think some of the Crayola color-namers are geniuses)
- Onomatopoeia (I can’t spell it, but it is a great word!)
- Cuddle (and also the synonyms of nestle and snuggle, which I found when I looked up cuddle… they just all sound warm and… snuggly. Now I’m wondering about Nestle chocolates and the word nestle though… is the name supposed to make customers envision sitting in front of a fire drinking cocoa or is there a different meaning?)