Friday, July 17, 2009

I love words

I love the way they bend and twist and breathe. I love the shape they take and the forms they create as they change over time and through use. I love how they steal (not borrow -- borrow implies that they are returned and once we steal a word from another language we never give it back: it's ours.) I love how they improve and love it just as much when they deteriorate. They are elegant and ugly and vulgar and exquisite; they don't just express thought -- they shape it. They are democratic;words stolen from one language are no better or worse than those stolen from others. The language we create in technology and in popular music is as valid as the oldest Latinate words. Middle and Old English are delicious and you can feel the weight of history they carry. Fluency is sexy and satisfying, and each new coinage is a birth and a wonder. I love the jargon that describes and differentiates fields and professions; its the code of a community that binds it together. I love crazy Scrabble words like aa, ai, oe, qi, za and zek (which we already knew thanks to Solzhenitsyn.) Great word books: Damp Squib, Alphabet Juice, anything by David Crystal.

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