O! know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent…
~ W. Shakespeare, 76th Sonnet
I just have this bouffant fascination for words. There are some words which, although commonplace, surprise you each time with how pleasant they are to say.
I took up French as one of the elective subject during undergrad. I remember distinctively how the word légume pronounce in French – that u right after the half swallow of the g which lingers warm and creamy in your throat, like carrot and rosemary soup in mid-winter. Or parsnips. See, I say parsnips and right away I can taste them, roasted to near caramel, in my mouth. A dimple ate them.
Lugubrious is excellent, sounding just like the mad loneliness of dark basements and cobweb moans in old horror flicks. Papillon and butterfly are equally flighty and fun to say, but libellule outshines dragonfly as something for kids to marvel at on a hot summer day.
Encyclopedia is good because you always have to look up its spelling.
I always think nonplussed means the opposite of what it does. That “non” throws me off each time; it just sounds like it should mean unfrazzled. But it doesn’t, so… there you go.
The clinical words for genitalia are incredibly un-sexy. The word genitalia is the worst.
Then there are all those words that you hold dear because of the powerful associations they evoke, and you’re always a little disheartened when others don’t grasp their richness and the slew of allusions they contain. Lake… you know (starry nights, the cry of the loons, rough heat of sun-baked rock on bare skin), lake. Get it?
I was tickled pink at the age of 12 when I discovered the word tintinnabulation, but had to let it go, never having managed to work it into a sentence.
In my awfully precious preteens, I loved saying awfully precious words like diaphanous, ubiquitous and concupiscent. Unfortunately, ubiquitous is now too, uh, ubiquitous, but diaphanous is still suitably annoying. Concupiscent, for some reason makes me think of Julian Barnes. As does the word armpits.
And it’s a curious process each time you learn a new word, the time it takes before you feel you “own” it.
You whisper it to yourself for a few days before building the courage to slip it into a sentence, anxious that it’s going to make a spectacle of itself and not mingle unnoticed in the crowd.
Once you have taken possession of a new word, you can then rise through the ranks and become one of those insufferable gits who say things like, What!? You mean you don’t know what omphaloskepsis means? Mooncalf.
Goodwill thrifted ensemble details:
Ann Taylor wedges $3.99
Burberry denim skirt $3.99
BCBG animal print blouse $4.49
Gap belt $1.99
Linking up to Thrift Share Monday.