Saturday, January 10, 2009

Big Words

I love words. I'm not sure when it happened, exactly, but somewhere along the timeline of my life, I fell head-over-heels in love with language. It's not that I'm particularly fond of the English language. I'll take any country's native tongue, I suppose. I only have this one down so far. The prospect of taking on a completely different vocabulary and set of grammatical rules thrills me. I say that now. We'll see how far that excitement gets me in the learning process.

There is an abundance of words that are left unused, sitting desperately in the dictionary, hoping that someone will come across them when searching for the correct spelling of "spaghetti". There are a few words that I feel are sadly overlooked. They aren't long words, and they are pretty easy to spell, but for whatever reason, America has overlooked them. Here is a list of the unsung heroes of the English language, as I see it (and I am no authority):

  • Placate- to satisfy, as one would a child, not an authority figure.
  • Ardent- passionate; fiery. Usually this word is used in its adverbial form of "ardently".
    ("I'm ardently against the use of chocolate as a means of placating small children.")
  • Monosyllabic- the state of a word having only one syllable. (Cat and dog are monosyllabic words.)
  • Superfluous- unnecessary and unneeded; redundant. ("The politician was superfluous in his choice of words in an attempt to make himself sound smarter than he is.")

In the time of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, the middle-class Russians (as well as the high-class) would speak several languages because they felt that a single language was inadequate for full expression. Most Russians spoke at least French, in addition to Russian. Every once in a while, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky would randomly throw in a word from French to convey their point better. Even with all of the words held in the Russian language, it wasn't enough. Here we have plenty of words in our own language that not even native speakers know.

Of course, it is necessary to take the audience into consideration when choosing words, but the fact of the matter is that the more words we know, the richer our discussions and the deeper we can understand one another. Words are a powerful thing, my readers. Obviously you know that, or you wouldn't be reading this ;)!

Here's wishing you a wonderful weekend.

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