Why Can’t the English Speak English?

As I’m neck deep in editing and finishing up the last bits of my book, I’ve frequently been told my vocabulary ought, perhaps, to be toned down just a bit. I grew up on Jack Vance and Georgette Heyer, C.S. Lewis and Jane Austen. I have always loved to read. It makes me ineffably distressed that in today’s time we have lost our vocabulary. The English language is resplendent with such gems as “ponderous” and “peroration.” Yet, they have fallen into sad disuse and from there into unintelligibility. At least, those of us who use such words find our meaning lost in the struggle to comprehend “archaic” terms.

Now why should the loss of words matter? On the one hand, it doesn’t. People still get their meaning across. And yet, is it a symptom of something? Are we becoming lazy? Are we lost in the trivialities of life, so much so that we don’t have time to compose our own thoughts? Are we losing literacy? Are we less imaginative now that we have media to imagine for us?

And how does this loss affect our ability to understand the Bible? Are we less able to comprehend the buffet of literary devices used throughout Scripture? Has our understanding of God become smaller as our vocabulary has shrunk?

Just a few thoughts to ponder 🙂 I know that I for one will continue to celebrate the multifariousness of our language with all its appropriated words. And so, today, I thought I would share just a few luscious words.

“addlepated” \ˈa-dəl-ˌpā-təd\–muddled or confused; How could I have been so addlepated as to put salt in my cookies instead of sugar?

“dudgeon” \ˈdə-jən\–(often prefaced with “in a”) miffed, resentful, peeved; I slammed the door and stomped off in a high dudgeon. How could he have eaten all my cookies?

“eviscerate” \i-ˈvi-sə-ˌrāt\–to remove something vital (like a “viscera” AKA “internal organ”);“I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”~Geoffrey Chaucer from A Knights Tale

“facetious” \fə-ˈsē-shəs\–humorous or funny; I was just being facetious when I questioned your cooking abilities. I know you’re a good cook!

“fug” \ˈfəg\–stuffy atmosphere, (Webster’s also adds “a malodorous emanation”); What a fug! Crack a window, will ya? This room has been shut up for far too long.

“kine” \ˈkīn\–cows; The smell of kine always turns my stomach.

“limn” \ˈlim\–to describe or detail; He limned the taste of my cookies to me. I would have preferred to have eaten one myself.

“rapscallion” \rap-ˈskal-yən\–rascal; Those rapscallions stole all my cookies and my favorite recipe!

“sobriquet” \ˈsō-bri-ˌkā, -ˌket, ˌsō-bri-ˈ\–descriptive name, nickname; Perhaps “Scamp” is not the proper sobriquet for my daughter. Then again, maybe it is. 

What are some of your favorite fun words?

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