Sunday, May 6, 2007

More Words I Like

Part two, baby! In part one, I simply listed my beloved words without comment. That was fun, but looking back, I'm sure it made for a weak read. So I thought I'd better say a bit this time.

According to one source, the English language is closing in on one million words. Holy buckets! I had no idea it was that high. I thought the number was somewhere around 600,000. I assume that many of the newer words in English are actually borrowed from other languages as global communication and culture develops. From that perspective, it would be fascinating to travel forward in time, say five hundred years or so, and discover whether a truly global language has evolved. I wonder if philologists have begun to contemplate the impact that the internet, email, and cell phones will ultimately have on languages around the world.

Incidentally, This series was inspired by a friend of mine who called me a "word nerd." Now, I took it as a fine compliment, but the truth is that I am not a word nerd, at least when compared to some. Next to some folks I know, I am a mere "word apprentice," unworthy of the title among the astonishing linguists and remarkable human dictionaries with whom I converse.

I should add that my favorite words aren't chosen solely for their meaning or their rarity or uniqueness . Some are selected for their sound, or for the mouth shape made when saying them, or for the way they look on the page. I also chose some because of a fond memory for the original context in which I learned its meaning, or for a delight in a particular author's or lyricist's turn of a phrase using the word. You'll have to decide which is which. Or you can just ask. Or you can just skip to the next post. Anyway...

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