Not a long post this week. Just a reminder that words – written or spoken – are powerful.
As a writer, I of course love words. I love words for their individual meanings, the way they work with other words in a sentence or a paragraph. I love how a single word at the right time can elicit strong emotion or deep thought. And some words just sound beautiful, too.
I wrote a post a while back about a few of my favorite words (note – only one word on that list is in my native language of English). So on this list, I’m including two words from my favorites list, plus three others that I think are beautiful in both sound and meaning.
Ljósmóðir – literally translated from the Icelandic, this word means “light-mother,” but it’s used as the term for “midwife.” Not only does it sound beautiful to the ear, but the definition embodies the beauty of bringing new light and life into the world. Continue reading
If you understood the reference made in the title of this post (hint: if you haven’t seen The Princess Bride, stop reading right now and go watch it), then you probably know what I’ll be discussing in this post.
In a living language like English, words sometimes change their meaning over time. For example, we use the word “prosaic” to mean dull or unimaginative; but originally, it simply meant “prose,” as in literature that wasn’t poetry.
So yes, words change, and even the most contentious literary lover might misuse a word or will encounter a new word they didn’t know before. But some words in recent years seem to have become problematic for many people. Here are a few of my pet peeves:
Literally. This means “exactly, without inaccuracy.” Nowadays, though, most people use it as nothing more than a modifier to add emphasis to a statement, like beginning a sentence of moderate importance with the word “dude.” There’s nothing wrong with “literally” moving into slang usage in this way, but where I take issue is when people forget what it actually means. Saying “Dude, my head literally exploded” in everyday conversation is one thing; but if you’re trying to sound professional in either your speaking or the written word, just remember that you wouldn’t still be here if your head had literally (i.e. actually, truly) exploded.
Alright. I’ve blogged about this word before. There’s not much to say here, because “alright” isn’t a word at all. What you’re trying to say is “all right.”
Welp or whelp. First of all, welp is not a real word. I see welp or whelp used in slang and conversation as an alternate way of saying “well” at the beginning of a sentence. For example, a Facebook update might say “Welp, there goes my great idea for my school project. :-(” Again, I’m fine with slang usage for words, but please don’t forget what the actual definition is. While “welp” doesn’t mean anything, a “whelp” is the pup or cub of a dog, a bear, or other animal, or can be used to as a somewhat derogatory term for an obnoxious child.
I’m sure there are other words that could be added to this list of “words that don’t mean what you think they mean.” These three are a good start, I think, mostly because I see them used (or misused) so frequently. What misused words would you add to the list?
I like words. Words are everywhere. We may ignore them – their placement, their meaning. We ignore their very presence. But every word that is placed somewhere, that is found, has a purpose and a meaning.
Everyone and every thing has a name. And every name a meaning.
We see this as art and we admire it. But do we appreciate the words? Do we find these words in our lives?
Subtle words, easy to miss.
Every place has its words, unique and waiting.
Where have you found words?
As a writer and amateur linguist, I love words. People often ask me what my favorite word is, and so I thought I’d answer that question by providing a short list. Of course I couldn’t pick just one word, right? So, in no particular order:
Laulu – this word means “song” in Finnish.
Though I’m not a singer, I love music and song; and to me, this word itself sounds like a song. It’s the perfect onomatopoeia word. Approximate pronunciation: lahw-loo. (I say approximate, because remember I’m a self-proclaimed amatuer linguist, not a translator).
Tusarnituq – this in an Inuktitut word meaning “beautiful sound.”
Not really onomatopoeia this time, but pretty close; it’s a beautiful word (pronounced just like it’s spelled, as far as I know) and the meaning is what I especially like. English, rich in adjectives as it is, doesn’t actually have an individual word for something as specific as a beautiful sound.
Ljósmóðir – the Icelandic word for “mid-wife.”
Literally translated, it means “light-mother.” Approximate pronunciation: lyohs-mothr (Icelanders, please – gently! – correct my poor phonetic spelling, if you’d like). Anyway, I first encountered this word on this blog; Icelanders frequently vote this as the most beautiful word in their language, and I agree. Not only does it sound beautiful to the ear, but the definition embodies the beauty of bringing new light and life into the world.
Wonder – yes, finally time to put an English word on this list.
“Wonder” is all about awe, discovery, amazement, and deep thoughts. I try to live my life with a sense of wonder – appreciating the beauty and awe of the world, and always curious and exploring. And, since several other words on my list are about music and sound, here’s a beautiful song all about the wonder of life and hope.
What are some of your favorite words? Please share!
Words are everywhere.
Sometimes they show up unexpectedly. Sometimes they dance, demanding to be noticed.
Sometimes they’re so common and disguised in the bustle of everyday life that even if they danced, no one would see it.
Sometimes they’re hiding in plain sight.
Sometimes they seem like just so much useless clutter. Sometimes they’re artfully arranged, full of hope and meaning.
Where have you found words lately?