I overheard a conversation recently in which one person said, “If Bill saw you do that, he’d chop your head off! Literally!” Before I sought the help of the FBI to investigate the allegations of Bill the head hacker, I thought it might be prudent to first consider that the only death involved was perhaps that of a word.
Behold and alas! I ruminate with pensive deliberation the various facets of our rich system of communication that languish in agonizing atrophy! Interpretation: I like words. I’m sad they’re neglected and distorted.
Some word morphs are simply a reflection of our changing world, and I am forced to cope with that. When I was young, if I was asked to close a window or share something I had written with someone, I would close a physical window attached to a house and hand someone a piece of paper I had written a story on. ‘Jerk sauce’ was something you poured over someone’s head because they were being unkind. Ah, the good ol’ days when ‘hot’ meant overheated, a ‘thong’ was something you wore on your foot, and ‘bitcoin’ referred to what a toddler did with pocket change. Word’s morph like Odo on Deep Space Nine. It isn’t my favorite fact, but in the words of an old friend, Larry London, “It just is what it is.”
More than the morphing, it is the neglect of the once magnificent words that drive my post today. The Thesaurus is filled with them; nearly forgotten words that pull meaning from the mundane with such deep flavor. The positive side of this neglect is that words retain their meaning better when they are on mothballs. Trains of overused words race by their delectable multi-syllabic cousins sleeping in the shadows of progress. Progress must go on, leaving behind it a wake of beautiful and descriptive words filled with rhythms as rich as their meanings.
I recognize there are those out there who, like myself, have an affection for words and their meaning in literature. So, fellow literature connoisseurs, join with me in the resuscitation of language when ‘er you can. If I don’t know a word you’ve used, I’ll thumb through my dictionary with childish reverie.
Nothing revives language, and the human heart, like poetry. And so I’ve blown the dust off of some precious works that feed the literary flame. Here’s one of my all time favorites. If, by Rudyard Kipling. If half the world lived by the truths held within this poem, our headlines would find rebirth.