Wednesday, February 22, 2006



This is a "in case you don't know me by NOW" kind of post, in which I reveal a deeply held secret (that by now you've probably already figured out).


And, as if you didn't know by now, here comes the story.


A few years ago I was going to lunch with a couple of friends; one of whom I'd known for a few years and the other I'd just met a few months earlier.

(Tangent - Does that make one of those people a friend and the other an aquaintance? What's the cutoff from transitioning from acquaintance to friend? 3 months? 6? More? Less? Can someone be a friend instantaneously without that whole awkward period of acquintanceship? Conversely, can you have an acquaintance of long standing that never really evolves any further into friendship? Now, return from tangent to story)

We were riding along, gabbing away, when I mentioned that someone at a meeting I'd attended that morning was "remarkably monosyllabic."

My new friend said "mono-who-wha-bic?"

And my friend of long standing said "Oh, that's the way she always'll get used to it."

My question would be: Is there something WRONG with that?


Further to the point:

When I was in 8th grade I was smitten with a boy who was the object of my attention for 2 very good reasons -1) he was taller than me, and 2) he was a wildly engaging and verbally active boy (can you say "turned out to be GAY? Why yes you can.). He taught me a poem that I still remember. He started with a challenge: "see if you can guess what familiar children's poem this is," which immediately got my attention and which I highly recommend to all 8th-grade boys who want to pick up geek-ettes such as I was.

Herewith I present the poem. (ahem)

Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific
Distantly poised in the ether capacious
Closely resembling a gem carbonaceous
Well, after hearing it a time or two I was like the Grinch, puzzling and puzzling 'til my puzzler was sore. Certainly I knew almost all the nursery rhymes there were to know; I had studied the Mother Goose book until I had almost every line of all its stories and poems memorized!
And yet, I could NOT figure it out.
Until he hummed a few bars.
"Twinkle twinkle, little star....."
Further-further to the point:
In 6th grade I read "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and presented it as a book report to my class. My teacher refused to give me a grade higher than a C because, in her words, "that book is too advanced for a child of your age to read; I don't believe you read it."
Ignorant gutter snipe.
Years later I wished she was still teaching so I could go back and show her the 720 I got on the verbal portion of the SAT.
I don't present these snippets of my life and personality as a "hey, lookee here! See me over here being all bookish and smarty-pantsy and erudite and whatnot!" Really, that's not the point. The point is that I just like words. They're interesting, and because we have so MANY of them that aren't being used and should, I've come up with a little baby-sized idea for this blog.......
Commence with the drum-rolling, pleeeeze.
Ladies anda gentlemen, I have started a "words I like" list on the right side (over there, on the sidebar!) of this blog. Occasionally I'll add some more, particularly if they're new to me and tickle my expressive fancy.
I am debating with myself on whether or not to also link to their definitions, so that y'all can get all edified and whatnot while wasting time on the 'net, but I'm thinking that if I spoonfeed you the info you won't remember it tomorrow, but if you have to GO and RETRIEVE the info yourself for a word that is attractive to you, then maybe you'll remember it and use it in conversation.
So to y'all, a question - do you prefer you vocabulary on a spoon or free-range?
(There is a part of this exercise that smacks loudly of Niles Crane, but I'll try to ignore that bit. Perhaps I'll go to an oenophilia site to cleanse my mental palate of that somewhat off-putting thought....)


Anonymous said...

Sigh. . .you KNOW what my answer is, oh word-girl!

3carnations said...

Very nice. I also enjoy words. I occasionally get made fun of for using a "10 dollar word" (or whatever the going rate is these days...) but I frequently get mocked for enunciating. It drives me batty when people pronounce words in no way how they were intended to be pronounced. "That will be 'twenny' dollars" (would you be willing to accept twenty?) I am particularly aware of this because I have a toddler son, and would like him to be able to learn words as they should be pronounced, both so he may speak well and to aid him when it is time to start spelling!

kenju said...

What a great post! I agree with you; I love words too, and while I sometimes get lazy and use common ones, now and then I like to trot out a few dazzlers. I always get called on it by someone who always thinks I am making them up. Thrills me to no end when I can open the dictionary and show him!

hovatter62 said...

Your verbosity astounds me, oh loquacious one! Ha. I love words, too, and I live with a biologist who loves nothing better than to throw out a multi-syllable science word. Remember the Scrabble games where we could only play themed words? You (or Karla)won every time! She could play much better after a few drinks, if I remember correctly.

tiff said...

Hi y'all!

Looks like I've got some work to do with coding definitions and such. I'll get on it. Feel free to suggest words of your own.

3carnations - nice to meet you!

kenju - nice to have you back!

Wordnerd - welcome, as always - thanks for ringing in in the midst of a crazy-busy life

Hovatter62 - cool new moniker! I think you are supplying me with the half a brain I left behind in remember things I've long forgot. Must be all those drinks. :>

rennratt said...

I love it! Please do not spoon feed us. I have a dusty old unabridged dictionary that is in need of use!

I once asked my mum how to spell a word (it was a new word to me) - and she TOLD ME TO LOOK IT UP.
[for the record, it was 'facetious', which is one of my favorite words].

When I was in college, I shared my my poli-sci notes with a classmate. After reading a page, he looked up and said "What was VIA? Was it a pact?" I had to take a deep breath, pause, and say "no, it is simply a word that means 'by' or 'by means of'".

hovatter62 said...

Oh, rennratt, via? Please! I once knew a PE teacher that wasn't the dumb jock that is so often associated with his genre. He told me about a coach he once had in college. Apparently this guy was "dumb jock" personified. He told the team they had to be able to grab the ball with either hand, then admonished them to "Get out there and be amphibious!" Poor little polliwogs, I wonder how many were permanently scarred by this role model.

tiff said...

At least he wasnt' tellign them to be ambiguous.

Coding not going so well, so for now you'll have to crack the spine on the dictionary or look it up on-line. Sorry 'bout that.

Erica said...

In order:

1. I love love love words, as well, almost indecently.

2. Transitioning from acquaintance to Friend: there are some people you meet that you just hit it off with immediately, and you KNOW you will be Friends. And then there are other people who you might know for years, who never quite get past acquaintance no matter how much time you spend together. So I guess, in a roundabout manner, I'm saying it depends.

(But a good rule of thumb: someone who says 'mono-who-wha-bic' or points out my use of "five-dollar words" is not likely to get there. STILL, that's not always the case. Again, it depends.)

3. Ignorant guttersnipe, indeed. In the 16th or 17th of our ongoing interesting coincidences, my sixth-grade teacher was a bitch, as well.

4. You are totally not bragging or grandstanding with your wordsmithery, though you have a right to. However, your blog speaks for itself. Even people who are intimately acquainted with the thesaurus but don't actually KNOW the words slip up. But you, my friend, are a Master of the Lexicon. I tug my forelock in deference.

5. No spoon-feeding! Share! Share!

tiff said...

1. yay

2. I suspected as much

3. hee!

4. gawrsh, thanks! But hey, when you're as old as me you've had a chance (or 43) to pick up some new stuff that y'all young'uns haven't been exposed to yet....

5. if I was better at putting in little linky things I would have a click-through to each word's definition. I've tried it twice and wind up with something that looks very unlike a neat and ordered list. Dadgummit.

oldfriend said...

You forgot about striae. You just gotta love those three vowels all smashed together at the end.

Did you know I was once accused of being Diane Chambers by a not-so-bright and very-sexist boss? Why am still offended by that? Should be HIS problem not mine.

Count me in for the 10-dolla word habit, and the strength not to correct my toddler (yet) on her mispronunciation.

tiff said...

Oldfriend - Diane Chambers? Hmmm, at least he wasn't comparing you with Woody. :>

Striae = goes on the list.