THE SECRET LIFE OF WORDS

I  love, love, love words. Unusual ones.  Obscure ones.  Exotic ones.  And the stories behind them. Like the invaluable phrase ~ as mad as a hatter.  Don’t you wonder why a good honest hatter is regarded as more prone to lunacy than, say, a tailor? I do.

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I’m also curious about the link between language and culture.  The Meaning of Tingo by Adam Jacot de Bound is a kind of dictionary that list words from languages all over the world.  The words have very specific and unusual meanings. Take the word in the title ~ tingo. It’s from the Pascuense language of Easter Island, meaning “to borrow objects from a friend’s house, one by one, until there’s nothing left”. Or how about this word, one bandied about in the Netherlands ~ plimpplampplettere? Say it, and listen to yourself.  Doesn’t it sound just like stones skimming on water?

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Are you a rasorial searcher, always after words?  The English poet W. H. Auden was once asked to teach a poetry class for 20 students. Two hundred applied to study with him. When asked how he chose his students, he said he picked the ones who actually loved words. (I’m sure I would have been one of the chosen, and if you’re still reading this, you would have too.)

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There are tons of field guides to words. Two of my new favorites are Better Than Great by Art Plotnik and Wordcatcher by Phil Cousineau. Want more wit and wisdom? William Safire’s NYT columns “On Language”  are collected in his book, The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time.

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McKean_SLOD

Prefer your wordy gems in a microburst?  Read Erin McKean’s column at the Wall Street Journal. McKean, the most interesting lexicographer of our time, is the founder of Wordnik.com and the author of Weird and Wonderful Words, More Weird and Wonderful Words, Totally Weird and Wonderful Words, and That’s Amore (also about words). Her first novel, The Secret Lives of Dresses, was published by GrandCentral/5Spot in February 2011. She says it’s her first book where the words are arranged in something other than alphabetical order. See why I turn to her column first in the Weekend Journal.   Week in Words – Wsj.com

Oh, and did I mention that she has A Dress a Day Blog?

Listen here to Erin speak at Google. She’s smart, playful and So Not Erinaceous.

Note to Readers ~I suggest you make note of these links on your digital thumbscall  (think post-it).  Many were used in the writing of this post ~ including one for the swell www.wordswewomenwrite.wordpress.com page itself.

Breaking News:  WWWW has a Facebook page ~ https://www.facebook.com/wordswewomenwrite  Come like us.   🙂

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I find words to be addictively interesting, especially when people like Plotnik, Cousineau, Jacot de Bound, Safire and McKean dig up tantalizing tidbits from obscurity. Scratch around on their word turf. I promise ~ you’ll winnick, snorkel and, quite probably, cachinnate in spite of yourself.

Toni 5/1/12


TWO YEARS AND A TITANIC TUB OF WORDS

And in the beginning was the Word……

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Flash Back : April 2010

Today we start our blog. For years we’ve met as a group, sipped coffee, nibbled tasty treats, talked through life’s dramas, and read our writing to each other. Frequently we have a silent partner in all this: Ted Kooser, Jane Yolen, Lary Bloom, Art Plotnik, Wordnik of The Day. We read their books about writing and let their wise words inspire us. This blog is going to be another silent partner, we think, but right now getting it going is a bit like trying to get clear, cool water from the faucet. We need to run the water for a while to swish out whatever’s been lodging along the old pipes. Sometimes those pipes clank and the water sputters. Sometimes we curse and talk about whether or not the plumbing’s ever going to be right. And then it happens. Luscious, clean, boy-is-this-well-good-or-what water. That’s the way it will be, this fussing with a writing blog. Just keep the tap on we’ve decided. It’ll come.

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Patty and I sit at a table in the Apple store, and various Mac Geniuses tutor us in how to set up the blog. For several hours we get pointers, run with them, hit a speed bump, sink into that uh-oh-we’ll-never-get-this funk, and then plow ahead ~ again ~ after another quick tip from a passing Genius. There are tons of things the Geniuses can teach us, but they zero in on That One Exact Skill we need next.

 
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Flash forward.  April 2012.

 
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It’s almost time to celebrate our Second Blogaversary. We’ve come a long way, baby.  Actually, we’ve come a dirty huge way.  And still, we go to the Apple store, sit at the the happy-go-larky project table and schmooze with the drive-by Genius who continues to feed us what we need next. There’s a continental-shelf-sized Skills-We-Need list, an infinite goozle of things to learn and, lucky us, a mother lode of time for us to learn it all.

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So, the tap is on. The water flows. The words come.

Readers, we’re glad you’re here.  Second Mad-Glamorous Blogaversary ahead ~ our cup-runneth over-ish, do celebrate with us.  But how?  Send us your Superbissimo Idea.  Who knows where it might lead.  Wink. Wink.

Toni 3/6/12

THIS NARB’S FOR YOU

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Today is the day to take those small moments and give them to those you care about.

~Susie Davis

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I. LOVE. WORDS. MADLY.

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I read books about words, like Spunk and Bite, Better Than Great, The Snark Handbook, In Other Words and I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears.

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I love Dictionaries, the ordinary and the obscure ~ one-letter words, all-consonant words, all-vowel words. And every one on the list below can give you an edge in Scrabble with your brainy friends. Not to mention a jack-in-the-box moment on every page.

WORD SPY: The Word Lover's Guide to Modern Culture

Whether you’re a word wonk or a “n00b”, word spy will make your bones boogie.


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Take the word mungy, with a soft, j-like G. I learned this word on Paul McFedries website. http://www.wordspy.com. It means overcast and damp, like it was the day before yesterday. You know, the kind of weather that provokes grey-sky thinking…. and its extreme version, black-sky thinking.

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But not yesterday.

It was definitely a blue-sky thinking day.

Down in the hollow…

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…and at the coffee shop.

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So Readers, this narb’s for you. Every blog post is a small narrative bit, a tiny story about a small moment. Want to share one of yours? Leave a digital morsel in the comment section. It’s the perfect place to pass along your narb ~ by word-of-mouse.

Toni 1/25/12