Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Word-stalker & Words Talker

A new word is like a fresh seed sewn on the ground of the discussion.
~Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) Austrian-British philosopher

In the Kingdom of Iceby Hampton Sides, is my most recently read book. In reading this book, I discovered seven words I'd never heard of before (most having to do with the Arctic tundra). 

Every book I've ever read has offered at least one new-to-me word. The magic of a Kindle (and maybe all electronic books) is the ability to find the definition by accessing the embedded dictionary. Even so, if the word is fascinating enough, I write it down, along with its definition. As soon as I get to my computer, I add it to my now-40 pages of words.

I most likely will never use the majority of these words. Yet, because they intrigued and fascinated me, I needed to become "friends" with them, to acquaint myself with them, to welcome them into that small part of my brain that finds joy in discovering something I had not previously known.

I like Wittgenstein's comment about using a new word in a discussion. Of course, it must be a well-chosen word because, as Andre Maurois states in An Art of Living, "To reason with poorly chosen words is like using a pair of scales with inaccurate weights." 

Julius Charles Hare, in Guesses at Truth: by Two Brothers wrote, "When you doubt between two words, choose the plainest, the commonest, the most idiomatic ... ." I haven't read this tome but know it was written in the mid-1800s, a time when even "the plainest, the commonest, the most idiomatic" words and phrases could be picturesque, flowing and full of zest. Much of the modern-day plain and common language is drab, coarse and sloppy.  

Obviously I could go on and on about words and how they fascinate me. However, to paraphrase Sophocles, the fewest words often have the ability to show much wisdom.