Monday, March 20, 2017

When Words make our Worlds: Theme Reveal

Words have always fascinated me. 

My dad had inculcated in me the habit of reading a dictionary, not just to find the meaning of a particular word that stumped me, but just to wallow in it and discover new words that I could add to my vocabulary. Once I discovered a new word, he told me, I only had to use it in speech about five times for it to become irrevocably mine.

My dictionary was my proud possession (much later Roget’s thesaurus received the same honour) and I was fascinated by words and their meanings, and even more by the efforts of all the unnamed people who had contributed to it.

How on earth had the dictionary come into being, I always wondered. Sure, there were great lexicographers like Noah Webster who played their part. But how did they do it? Did people walk up to Noah, for instance, and say, “Hey, Noah, I’ve got a few words that you might like to add to that book you are putting together.”

When I was in the 9th grade, I decided to be a journalist when I was older. The idea had taken a fierce hold of me, ever since I read somewhere in a magazine that journalists know about 40000 more words than the average person.

Although I worked for a newspaper briefly, I didn’t become a journalist. But words continue to fascinate me. The idea that I might have more words in my arsenal than the vast majority of people makes me feel rich beyond… How do I put it? Beyond words.

I find the evolution of English fascinating. How the language has evolved, taking in words here and there from other languages, refusing to remain stagnant.

Today the English that we speak is a vibrant and alive lingo that throbs with the heartbeat of every person that has ever spoken it. Every person, who in speaking, has discovered a lack, a gap that English could not fill, and allowed his/her own native tongue to fill in that gap. And English has accepted all those words, bidding them welcome. She has absorbed them all into herself. And so, she continues to grow.

And so my theme for the A to Z April Challenge 2017 is Words. Newer words from a variety of languages. They may or may not be under consideration for inclusion into the English language by the venerable lexicographers who take these decisions. 

But words aren’t docile enough to stay out, if asked to. They enter into schools and colleges, workplaces and boardrooms, kitchens and streets, held aloft by the people who speak them, people who dip into their own argot to find that elusive word that English can’t satisfy.

All through the Challenge, I will talk about new words that ought to be a part of the English language. It should be fun.
As the Boyzone lyrics go, “It’s only words, but words are all I have.”

The great philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once said, "The limits of my language are the limits of my world."

Shall we expand the limits of our world?


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