Last semester I wrote a short story titled “I Don’t Know How to Write the End”. Today, my biggest struggle is that I don’t know how to write the beginning. The problem is I’ve been so excited about sharing this video that I’ve been thinking about it all week.
My friend Michael put this video on my Facebook wall last Thursday along with the comment “I don’t direct this at anyone.” It’s a kinetic typography video from a Stephen Fry transcript about Language.
I’ve long been a linguiphile. And though that word is not recognized by most dictionaries, and it would be just as easy to say “a lover of words” I like “linguiphile” better. My cheerleading squad in high school called me “Homeschool” because I, as I put it, had “quite an extensive vernacular” and I put it to use, often during cheerleading practice. Most of the girls I cheered with were rather smart and knew what I was saying, yet chose to truncate their communicative skills. I embraced mine and was marginalized. No, that makes me sound like a martyr. They teased me. I got over it.
My friend Michael often teases me. The same class for which I wrote “I Don’t Know How to Write the End” featured weekly workshops. In one of these workshops I used the word “bacchanal” instead of “party”. I won’t transcribe the entire argument that followed between Michael and myself about the specificity of “bacchanal” vs. “party”. But I was quite miffed. Again, I got over it (quickly, no worries) and we’ve gone on to tease each other about much sillier things. But when he shared this video with me I chalked it up to a victory in my column.
Watching this video made me want to jump up and down in excitement. Finally, I’ve encountered someone who understands my love for words, my need to express myself in new and challenging ways. Not to rub my lexicon in other’s faces, but for the sheer enjoyment of words.
I have never read the Dictionary cover to cover, though I have perused it from time to time. And I did once read a novel about the genesis of the OED. I often wrangle over which word will better illuminate what I am attempting to communicate and I also admit that I use a thesaurus about 20 times for each blog post. I wish to avoid sounding redundant or silly. Which brings me to another video featuring Stephen Fry from his satirical A Bit of Fry and Laurie days:
I believe my favorite part of that video is when he exclaims, “And yet we, all of us, spend all our days saying to each other the same things time after weary time.” With so many words available to us for speaking, writing, communicating, why do we repeat the same things? “I love you” is an important phrase to repeat, people need to hear it.
Yet I would argue that it is also vitally important to use the argot you have command of to gently coerce others into a higher jargon. Or by using bigger words force other people to learn and use bigger words. Not for an intellectual parade of verbiage, but for the challenge of illuminating articulation, for the fun of
the tripping of the tips of [our] tongues against the tops of [our] teeth [to] transport [us] to giddy euphoric bliss
– Stephen Fry
Happy word hunting 🙂
I’ll see you Monday with another brand-spanking new original work post!
For further reading: