29 October 2006

The Words We Use


I love words. What writer doesn’t? What reader doesn’t? Sometimes, when I remember, I go to Miriam Webster online for the word of the day just to experience a shiny new word. I love how words feel. They are like incense that fills the room. After a while, you don’t realize that incense is burning. It’s part of the room, part of the atmosphere. When I am reading or writing a book, that book becomes my reality, and the words create the world.
More than words, I adore metaphors. They connect seemingly at odds ideas. I love the way the words twist together in a metaphor. Like Lisa Samson. She is the queen of metaphors. “As messy as a presidential impeachment.” She was talking about a closet.
I’ve learned something new about myself and words recently. You see, I’m tutoring through an ESL program. Sometimes my student asks me what a word means. I have a hard time telling her a definition. I want to tell her how the word feels. Friday, we were reading Nancy Drew and encountered “looming.” “I don’t know this word,” she told me. Hmm, looming. It means looming. It feels intimidating. I wanted to show her the meaning by looking with wide eyes at a larger than life object half hidden by the midst in the beyond. Looming. Yeah, I’m great at this job.
The words we use and how we use them fit and shape the genre. I just finished a Kathy Reichs novel. Forensics. Short, choppy sentences. Just the facts. The words fit the character.
Lisa Samson’s novel: metaphors, descriptions. Fit the character.
You can tell a person by the words they use. What kind of words do you use?

17 comments:

Mirtika said...

I use "thang" and "peops" and "gimme" and "hey" a lot.

I think I need to spend more time with someone erudite.

hah.
Mir

Claudia said...

LOL...before my last class, I used to hardly ever cuss. The past 8 weeks however, I've turned into a sailor in training!

Victor said...

I use simple words because I'm a simple guy. I also think deep truths can be expressed in simple language.

I find it fascinating that the Hebrew Scriptures, in their original language, are very concrete. Sensual.

Metaphors are powerful. I dig em like a dog burying a bone.

Victor said...

I just looked up sensual. I guess I didn't mean sensual. I meant it is concrete in that it has to do with things we can experience with our senses rather than abstract ideas. That's what I meant.

Pamela said...

metaphors
I can think them up as fast as the moss grows between a sloths toes

(yeah.... I take forever to write a sentence that makes sense)

Mirtika said...

Oh, yeah, I cuss, too.

I'm sorry, but some of the best, best and most fitting words for certain events and occasions are colorfully BLUE.

And I am not apologizing, neither.

Mir

L.L. Barkat said...

Um...

Erin said...

I-use-too-many-words-strung-
together-with-hyphens-because-I-do-
not-possess-the-art-of-brevity-nor-
do-I-see-a-clear-division-between-
thoughts-and-experience-and-things-
it's-all-one-great-big-messy-ball-of-
tangly-verbal-twine.

L-chaim.
And-welcome-to-my-brain.

Jeanne Damoff said...

There's a mystery to the music of words. When meaning and cadence combine to create perfect expression of thought or movement or emotion, I feel an exquisite ache in my soul.

God chose to use words as His tools in creation. How amazing that He not only shares His tools with us, He also whispers a bit of His breath into our words and makes them beautiful.

Robin said...

Daggumit......Everyone here has already said beautifully, perfectly and at times more succinctly anything I woulda wanted to. EVERYBODY! Everyone made me laugh; but Erin and Jeanne wrote pretty much what I would've written, depending on my mood at the time I commented, and they did so oh-so-much-more deliciously than I could've. Thanks, guys....you ROCK!

Erin said...

I kinda liked "sensual" and "cussing like a sailor" myself.

Jeanne's words are poignant. The whole idea that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us... You'd think that would be the FIRST thing to pop into my head. But-then-again-we-already-know-what-it's-like-in-there.

T. Suzanne Eller said...

There is tremendous power in words. It's awesome that you love them so much.

Victor said...

I'm also a fan of the cursing at certain times,although I don't let my Christian friends know that because then I'd get my religious ass kicked!

Barbara said...

The words used definitely count!I hate getting a book to read that is boring in every sense of the word - just those plain-jane sentences that would put the dog to sleep.

Heather said...

You guys make me laugh and think, all at the same time. See, the power of words. I guess all bloggers love words.
Interesting that Christ iw referred to as the Word of God.

Gina said...

Hey, at the end of the day after homeschooling four kids, I'm just happy I can string a bunch of words together to make a sentence.

And as for the words I use..."Can you get that what-cha-ma-call-it over there on that thingy?" Yeah! I'm a writer!

Jennifer said...

I use a LOT of words. Too many, probably. What does that say about me?

I have only read one Lisa Samson novel, but loved it. I have two more waiting to be read. Which is your favorite?