The Perfect Word

Hubby and I have many conversations (some say arguments) about the perfect word.  We discuss the connotative and denotative meaning of words.  The grandchildren have been known to say,  “Opa, you use such big words.”  Hubby does tend toward the fustian*, but if left to him, the grandchildren will be more than ready for their college entrance exams.

My words tend away from the ostentatious to the common, and I find little need for vulgarity, although I will admit that when I burned my hand recently something vulgar may have passed my lips.  As one who aspires to be a professional communicator, I have no prejudice against certain words.  The words that communicate your message in the way you would like it to be received are good words.

So many people just don’t realized that what others hear, sometimes bears little resemblance to what is meant.  Toss in words few are familiar with, and your listener could lose your meaning.  Before you jump to the erroneous conclusion that am advocating talking down to your listener, rest assured that is not at all the case.

It is as Hubby, once a technical writer, always tells me about writing.  “Write so that you cannot be misunderstood.”  The same is true of speaking.  Build a little redundancy into your communication, so that new words can be understood, rather than out of reach of some listeners understanding.  It just isn’t a perfect word, if you leave your listener (or reader) wondering what the heck you mean.

I agree with T.S. Elliot.  Toss the “complete consort” of words into the salad, combining the old and the new.

* It is interesting to note that upon checking the spelling of the word fustian, and stopping to read the definition, that the word original denoted a course woven cotton or linen, and has come to denote a thick cotton fabric such as corduroy or velveteen.  Nice fabrics, but hardly fustian as in pompous or pretentious.  

Dortches

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Words are interesting.  Language changes and words come in and out of use.  Definitions of words can transform over time.  Words can even be unique to a family.

Judy Dykstra-Brown in her blog lifelessons asked about unusual family words.  Our family has a unique word in usage.  The word is dortches.

We were traveling with our children, and stopped for the night in North Carolina.  While packing up the next morning our youngest son asked if we wanted any of the dortches.  The what?  The dortches he found in a folder on the desk in our motel room.  The folder contained fliers about area attractions.  I selected several, but had to explain that Dortches was the name of the town.  Dortches, North Carolina was the town we spent the night in.

We have been calling fliers by the name dortches ever since.  We have told our friends across the world this story and asked them to use the word also.  Maybe we could get a new word in the dictionary.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it could.

The next time you stop at tourist information, you can pick up a few dortches, and when they look at you funny for your word choice, you can inform them of the new word.  In time, the word choice will be so common you will stop getting funny looks, and our word might even end up in the dictionary.

Now that all of you know this story, I can’t imagine it will be to long now.

Mr. Irrepressible

AL

Hubby is a smart, clever, funny man.  When we met, we were high school kids, and I was full of angst, and he was just full of it.  He pulled me out of myself, and made me laugh. Now we have been married 45 years.

Sometimes I will say something and he has an entire conversation entirely by himself with no feedback from me.  Trivia, jokes, sarcasm, and random comments in a flow of free association spill forth in a never-ending stream.  Sometimes it’s purely funny.  Other times, while still funny, there is a real bite to his comments.  When Hubby’s comments are biting, I stop him and remind him that what he is saying is nothing I’ve had any part in, and not only are these not my words, but I don’t feel that way at all.

It is funny, challenging and exasperating.  For me it is particularly entertaining, challenging and exasperating when we get on the subject of grammar and word choice.  He was a tech writer and editor.  I, a reporter and writer.  He has been trained to leave my sentence fragments and word choices alone.  I have encouraged him to write blogs, so we could have a his and her perspective, but so far he has resisted my urging.

I have seen a funny comment break the ice in awkward situations.  I have seen a humorous comment transform a conversation from tense to easy.  I have seen him make an insightful funny comment in a serious conversation than transformed the thinking of others.

The unstoppable humor is well-meant.  Hubby might humorously say something about you being fat, or make a comment on your ugliness, but he would never say such a thing if he actually thought you were either fat or ugly.  It would just be a joke.  Our daughter will put her father on speaking probation.  Number one son finds nothing funny about any of it, calling it abusive.  Next son finds it annoying, but can tolerate it, and if he isn’t busy with something else, may even enjoys his Dad’s humor.

Recently, I’ve read some articles about sarcasm and humor that support number one son’s opinion.  Even though many of us think sarcasm and deprecating humor funny, it is biting and can be considered abusive or bullying.  I am not sure I would go that far.  I would agree sarcasm is clearly a very powerful rhetorical device, so use it with care.                                                                                                                    #

 

Withdrawal

Watching the news has been disturbing during this season when we really want to believe in peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind.

Add to the bad news some ugly politics and I have lost my smile.  The grinchiness  and all its sourness is reaching across all aisles and is doing its best to ruin our holidays.

Analysis of the latest mass shooting continues with no solution and no resolution.  Radicalization brings violence around the world.  A leading politician calls for walls, roundups, and exclusion of those trying to escape the ISIS violence, as if just being a Muslim is the same thing as being radical.  All the hate spewed by this radical and racist position has boosted the pole numbers of the Most Radical candidate.  To me it looks like an ingredient for creating radicals.

I have seen reports of the Muslim community coming out against the violence, but it doesn’t get nearly the press that the violence itself gets, and many don’t even seem to be aware, as proved by discussions with those in my circle prove.  Muslim’s themselves are the major target of the ISIS violence.

My small voice doesn’t seem like much of a weapon against this hate.  My one vote doesn’t seem like it can make much difference.  Discussions with those in my circle don’t seem to change any minds and leave me feeling  ineffective.

A friend suggested I was letting terrorists (or maybe politicians) win by giving up on my blog.  I may withdraw at times, but I think I will try to hang in here.

 

 

 

I’ll Stick to You

…like gum in your hair

…like Taffy on a toddler

…like TP on your shoe

…like fleas on a dog

…like a rash you can’t itch

…like a beagle on the scent

…like a teen and her cell phone

…like a monk and his prayers

…like a reader and a book

…like baby and the momma

…like a chicken on a June bug

Move along, nothing original here.

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