Savoring Speech

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Today’s Merriam-Webster Word Of The Day is “knackered”, which means tired or exhausted.  I actually have used this word in an essay lately. It is a descriptive, fun word that is not used much, at least on this side of the Atlantic.

There are words I have written in my journal that I would like to use or use more of in my writing. Here are some I have used: inkhorn, assiduous, savor, sedulous, and sui generis. And there are many I have not yet used, like winsome, skedaddle, gumption, mollycoddle, caterwaul, and balderdash.

There are other words I have recently discovered by reading outside my normal habits. Haiku is something new I have found, for example. Reading Bashō’s classic book of haiku, The Narrow Road To The Interior, for example, I was struck by how descriptively he used words to paint his pictures. Some phrases and words I picked out were:

Tremble

Trepidation

Battered

Cracked by cold

Sun dancing

Hidden in clouds of memory

Sundered

Tormenting

Endlessly scattered

Adrift

These were used not only in his short poems, but also as he described his journeys. I wanted to be there traveling with him as he surveyed towering mountains or crossed roaring rivers or bowed at sacred sites.

I have also recently discovered words from other languages which define topics I’m interested in learning more about.  For example, I want to learn more about generosity, kindness, gratitude, humility, and other virtues and virtue development. Turns out, surprise, that these have been a topic of interest for centuries.  Sharon Salzberg, in her book Loving-Kindness uses these terms, each of which I plan to incorporate into my writing:

Dana – the practice of generosity

Metta – lovingkindness

Karuna – compassion

Upekka – equanimity

Mudita – sympathetic joy

These are words in the Pali language, used in Buddhist writings. Aren’t they wonderful!

I have heard a complaint from people about reading pieces that require them to look up words. Me? I try to find writing that will stretch me, and looking up a word or two or three as I read is something I find stimulating.  I used to keep a vocabulary notebook for words I tracked down that I wanted to remember. That’s one way I’ve tried to build my vocabulary. These days, I still keep such a notebook but also can save delightful words electronically.

To those who aver that reading books or articles with challenging words is too hard, who look down on wording-up, I say balderdash!

And now I can mark that word off my to-be-used list.

 

References:

Bashō, M. (1998). The Narrow Road To The Interior (S. Hamill, Trans.). Boulder, CO: Shambhala.

Salzberg, S. (1995). Lovingkindness: the revolutionary art of happiness (1st ed.). Boston: Shambhala.

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