The unvoiced thoughts and ideas of a septegenarian.


on March 11, 2012



Le professeur arrive. Il entre dans la salle de class. “Bon jour mes amis”.

No, I neither read nor speak French but I remember that entire paragraph from a high school class in French. I mention it as an introduction to some comments about words. Let it first be said that I admit to being a word snob. I have no patience with those who butcher the English language, who cannot spell fortuitous and don’t know the difference between a comma and a semi colon. There is a TV cooking show I watch with some regularity and one of the programs is hosted by a woman to whom I am part of ‘y’all.” I gag when I hear it.

Some people collect antique snuff boxes, moustache cups and the like.  Me?  I collect words. I collect those that roll and crackle on my tongue; words that take me back in history, touch my feelings, words that sizzle when spoken: pinochle, loquacious, euphoria.

I don’t like hello and goodbye.  I think they are insipid words that say nothing.  Compare hello to ‘bon jour’ which wishes me a good day; to shalom or salaam which wishes me peace. Say ‘adios and I’m on a horse galloping away. Say good bye I go nowhere.  Likewise, “have a soft day” – a day free of problems and tension – says more than “have a nice day.”  The Irish are pros at saying goodbye   Paddy might say “May you have no frost on your cabbage,” or “May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.”

Some words are interpreted differently by various people.  For everyone black  is black. If I use the word ‘squint’ you may visualize a near sighted person but that is not what I mean when I say squint.  Squint is my mantra.  To me, squint means being able see the grays in anything, not just the black and white.  Put simply, the man who sees a pile of rocks and does not see a cathedral has not learned to squint.

A good word need not necessarily contain more than seven letters. Some simple words, even some slang, are just as effective in describing something or touching my feelings; words like hug, peaches, gotcha.

I love the sound – the melody – of certain words:  melodious, iridescent, euphoria..  Others cause me to put my hands over my ears:  rotten, garbage, average.. Words are a symphony. The sound they make should hum not screech. Conundrum and loquacious hum: riddle or puzzle and talkative screech.

It’s unfortunate that my love of words cannot be handed down to my grandchildren. They’d be richer by far than if I willed them a grandfather clock.

Julie Rose


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