Who uses more words in a day–men or women? The popular “studies-say” answer is that women use three times the number of words that men do, and that we are a source of emotional exhaustion for men. Eliza Doolittle, on the other hand, would argue that it’s the opposite (you know, the words, words, words song–I’m afraid you’ll have to Google it because I don’t know how to use copyright information to legally post the lyrics here), as she runs, emotionally exhausted, from the men in her life. I’ve known men as well as women who talk incessantly. I have noticed a trait more predominant in women than men: when we get together in groups, we can all be participating in more than one conversation at a time.
I like words. I like how they look on paper, I like how they sound in my ears, and I like how they feel in my mouth. Yes, words do indeed have a feel in the mouth. I know someone who will often repeat a phrase, but only under his breath, for the tactile experience it provides. I love to learn new words. Today, I used the word, “kempt” in a conversation with a friend. I didn’t even know if it was a word, but I thought it should be since “unkempt” is a word. I mean, how can something be UNkempt if it’s not possible for it also to be kempt? So, of course, I looked it up. I was thrilled to see that it is, in fact, a word. A word I rarely use is “whelm.” I know it’s a real word, and the definition of “whelm” makes “overwhelm” seem redundant, but to say that I am whelmed by something just seems incomplete somehow. The other day, I felt angsty and petulant, but it made me feel slightly better to say I felt angsty and petulant than to say I felt anxious and irritated for no real reason. “Soporific” is one of my favorite words. I learned it while reading the Peter Rabbit books to my kids. The bunnies all feel asleep, and were almost cooked into a pie, because of the soporific effects of the lettuces they had eaten. “Delectable” is a good word. It’s important to me that I eat something delectable every day. People have said that we shouldn’t choose food based on taste, but only on nutritional benefit. If that’s true, then it’s wasteful that we have taste buds. Does good food never delight you? I think our five senses are some of the greatest gifts we’ve received. What a treasure that we can taste such a variety of flavors, smell the richness of the earth, see the beauty of a sunrise, hear a symphony, and feel the touch of a loved one’s hand in our own.
Words fascinate me. I proudly subscribe to dictionary.com’s Word of the Day email. dictionary.com often leads me on a serendipitous journey of delight and discovery. In fact, I just stopped by that site to see if there was a link for the word-of-the-day email, and I got lost for ten minutes learning the origin of the ampersand. I have a few friends who also enjoy words, and we will share new words with each other. I received a text the other day from an unknown number. When I asked who it was, and he gave me his name, I increased my vocabulary level to the ridiculous (but it’s how he and I communicate). When I was met with silence, I realized that I was not talking to the Ken I thought I was talking to.
My kids use words that delight some of their friends and exasperate others. Jeanice has been told by her friends that she is not allowed to read vocabulary books.
Combinations of words can also be a thrill. The Princess Bride, the most quotable movie ever, is a source of some wonderful logodaedaly. Did you just go look that up, or did you already know that I was talking about word-play? It’s a word I just learned today–I discovered it as I was looking for another word (again with the serendipitous journeys). Combinations of words can elicit a smile because of the information they provide–I love you, I’m on my way, we’re gonna have a baby! Other combinations feel good in the mouth–fraught with emotion, sleight of hand, peas and carrots.
Sometimes I speak in text: I made her lol. wft? jk. Once, in a professional setting, some asked me a question and I responded, “idk, but I’ll find…” (blush) I blame my daughter for that one. I have a few friends who don’t like text shortcuts even in text, but they can’t stop me from speaking “u” instead of “you” or “r” instead of “are” because they can never catch me at it 😉
Do words ever give you a thrill? Do words have a tactility for you? What are your favorite words or phrases?