Please forgive me for such a long delay in putting up something new on the blog (I know how much you all love it ;-)), but in return, here is an extra long post (with pictures)!
Some people say that words don’t really mean much. They’re only words after all, and it’s almost impossible for words to inflict any kind of physical pain upon someone directly, unless you’re speaking at the same volume as a jet engine.
If you ask me, though, words mean a lot more than people give them credit for (that wasn’t meant to rhyme). Like Buddha once said “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”. I think he was completely right. Besides – famous, inspirational, and even infamous quotes are “just words”. As are books, scripts, song lyrics, and recipes. At the end of the day, how many people have had their lives changed by any of those? Would Charles Dickens, Steven Spielberg, John Lennon, or Julia Child have been anywhere near as successful without words?
Maybe they would have. It’s impossible to say, but equally impossible to imagine life without words. As well as all the reasons above for words, many words are fantastic in their own right. Here’s my selection of some words that are great all on their own, with or without more either side. Although to some they might just be a string of consonants and vowels, these words are really so much more:
Scone: Did you say it in your head as you read it just then? How did you pronounce it? Some people say it should rhyme with stone, others with shone. Never has such an innocent tea-time snack been so controversial. Unfortunately for some, though, the debate isn’t entirely even. According to a study, two-thirds of the population of Great Britain pronounce it “skon”, with 99% of the Scottish people agreeing with that majority. However, there is one group of people benefiting from this argument: poets. Without a specific pronunciation to be chained to, poets can slip the word in more or less wherever they like. To demonstrate this, here is a short poem.
“I asked the maid in dulcet tone
To order me a buttered scone
The silly girl has been and gone
And ordered me a buttered scone.”
Ghoti: Hear’s another pronunciation-puzzlement (catchy, eh?). Believe it or not, this is actually pronounced “fish”. (If you’d already figured that out, you’ve either heard it before or are just a smarty-pants). Normally credited to George Bernard Shaw, ghoti was created presumably to demonstrate the bizarre spellings of the English language. It is made by taking sections of other words and combining them into a new word, whilst retaining their old sound. Ghoti takes “gh” from tough, “o” from women, and “ti” from nation. It can also be made into a word that makes no sound at all, by taking “gh” from though, “o” from people, “t” from ballet, and “i” from business. Bearing this in mind, please imagine what it is like teaching 5-year-olds to read. Thank you.
Tsunami: First of all, I understand that this word does not have very positive connotations for some people. Although tsunamis are undeniably dangerous and destructive, they are also sort of cool (but NOT when they hit populated areas), as is their name. I mean, how many words start with “ts”, honestly? And out of those words, how many do you actually get to say the “t” sound? Not many, that’s what. I also think it sounds a bit like a girls name. Think about it.
Flutterby: I really, truly think that when people decided that this dainty, pretty little insect fluttering around should be called a “butterfly”, it was either a joke or a typo. What do they have to do with butter, anyway? Nothing. And, sure, they fly and all that, but they really don’t have much to do with your common household fly, either! I call for a petition to give them a much nicer, far more suitable name: flutterby.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: I think this word pretty much speaks for itself. In fact, it practically speaks a whole sentence. The main reasons this word is so great are fairly obvious, (hardly anybody can spell it, it’s ridiculously long, etc.) so I’ll leave you with a joke so bad it’s good:
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him …… A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.