Words – Part 1 ~ Dorien Grey: Outside the Margins

Join us as Dorien Grey goes Outside the Margins.

Dorien_Grey_OTMWords, Part I

I love words. Always have. My mom tells me my first word after “mama” and “dada” was “Constantinople,” though I suspect she may have misinterpreted a post-bottle belch.

The title of this entry says “Part I” because there is no way anyone could possibly cover the subject in one or one thousand blog entries. This will be just the equivalent of a flat stone tossed across a pond, skipping and bouncing from thought to thought (as do so many of my blogs).

I find it fun to contemplate that any discussion on the subject of words consists, by necessity, entirely of…words, and that while pictures don’t create words, words in the right combination can paint vivid mental pictures.

I love the sound of words. “Onomatopoeia” is a delightful word and has always been my favorite, both for its sound and for its definition. I am also partial to multi syllabic words, the more syllables the better. “Anti-disestablishmentarianism” is always a crowd pleaser. “Supercalifragilisticexpialodocious” doesn’t count, since it was totally made up, just for a movie.

I have nothing against made-up words…I frequently do it myself. I still cannot accept the fact that “store” is not acceptable as the past tense of “stare”. And Lewis Carrol’s “The Jabberwocky” is an absolute joy of made-up words: “‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves did gire and gimble in the wabe….” I can easily close my eyes and see the slithy toves giring and gimbling.

It amazes me that so few people are aware of the true meaning of words. How many people realize that “Breakfast” literally refers to “breaking the fast” of the preceding night?

The despised “N” word is, actually evolved by repetition of the word “Negro”—a totally valid, if no longer “politically correct” word. Say it rapidly ten or fifteen times, and it will quite naturally transmogrify into the reviled “N” word, which is just what it did through common usage. Interesting.

My personal cause celebre word is “President,” and I wave my banners and mount my soapbox whenever the opportunity presents itself…like now…to decry the mispronunciation of the word and the fact that not one person in a hundred and one has the slightest idea that its mispronunciation totally obscures its clear meaning.

I’ll bet my bottom dollar, and borrow a few more, that our founding fathers did not establish the office of a “Prez-i-dent.” The office is of a “Pre-ZI-dent”…the man holding the office presides over the government. Even dictionaries, which certainly should know better, seem to have overlooked this grievous error, and I will not rest until it has been rectified! (I don’t think you need to wait up, though. I’ll call you when it’s done.)

English is the most expansive and fluid of all languages, and continues to grow and expand. The Oxford English Dictionary contains some 616,500 entries, and I recently read somewhere that there are now just over 1,000,000. The average English speaker is estimated to have a vocabulary of somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 words—most of them seldom if ever used. The dictionary is the most fascinating book we have, though its lack of plot and character development rather limit its general appeal.

See? We’ve come to the end of the average space allotted to each entry, and we haven’t come any further than one one-thousandth of the thickness of an angel’s whisker in discussing the topic. Well, I’m sure I just might get back to it at some point.


~ Dorien Grey

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4 thoughts on “Words – Part 1 ~ Dorien Grey: Outside the Margins

  1. I think the President thing is a losing battle. 🙂 I agree that the dictionary is fascinating. When I was a child (way before the internet), I would sit and read the dictionary for the fun of it (the encyclopedia too).

  2. Wait…what’s a bottom dollar? Is there a top dollar? Does a dollar top a bottom dollar? Huh. Who knew we had tops and bottoms in currency. heh heh heh I know, I know. That sooooo wasn’t your point, D.

  3. How could anyone NOT understand “breakfast”?

    I too love “onomatopoeia”, and multi-syllabic words. “Quintessence” is another good one.

  4. Following Shakespeare’s example, I also started to add new words to the English language. The first one was released on December, 08 in one of my posts. 🙂
    Therefore, my dearest R/D, you can note another word for your dictionary, “lighthoused” used in the title: 13 Voltaire’s Quotes that “Lighthoused” my Life 🙂
    Thanks for this article. Like always… it is a good piece.

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