Monthly Archives: July 2016

Fun with Definitions

I hope LCRW enjoys this play on words, from author Catherine Castle

Fun with Definitions

old-Correspondence By Bebb, M. S. Wikimedia.com

 

The English language is nothing if not strange. Its homonyms and homophones can confuse anyone. Add synonyms to the mix and that’s a lot to learn. Here’s another twist you can add to the complexity of our language: the redefining of words throughout the ages. When I was a kid, sick meant you were ill, not feeling well as in “I’m too sick to go to school.” In the eighties, the word came to mean awful, terrible as in “She’s so sick. I hate her.” Today when the kids call something “sick” they’re not referring to germs, they’re making the word a compliment: “That concert was sick!”

As writers, we should consider the changing guard of words as a challenge and use them to add flavor to our books. This can be especially interesting if you want to put your out-of-time…

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Detritus

For some reason, in my shower this morning, I began to think of the word ‘detritus.’ I had just used it in a story I’m in the process of writing and I began to wonder if I use the word in all my stories. Truth be told, I really love the word.

I have several favorite words. Lovely, fantastic, wonderful… I use them a lot in my day-to-day conversations, so they are probably favorites of mine. There are also a couple four-letter-words I use—sometimes often, depending on what kind of day I’m having. I don’t know if that qualifies those words as favorites or not. Since I’m a sweet little old lady, I’ll say that they are not favorites, but rather something like anomalies. Frequently used anomalies.

But, getting back to detritus… It’s just so much fun to say the word.  For instance, you could say, ‘The yard was littered with junk and trash.’ (How gross!) OR:  ‘The yard was littered with detritus.’ Here’s another pair:  ‘The old yearbook was filled with yellowed, crumbling pages.’ OR:  ‘The old yearbook was filled with the detritus of yesterdays.’ (Ahhhh. Now isn’t that a picture?)

I’m so disappointed when I think of all those years I missed saying, “Honey, would you take out the detritus, please?” Just watching/listening to his reaction would have been better than an I Love Lucy show.

And how about renaming our DPW organizations to Detritus Pick-up Workers? Can’t you just picture their backs straighter, their heads held higher, their trucks less squeakier? (Now, there’s an oxymoron—another good word for perhaps another day.) (And yes, I know the descriptive phrase should be “less squeaky,” but I didn’t want to break the “-er” pattern. Poetic license. ‘Nuff said.)

Now I must go do my laundry while I walk the elongated circle of my basement for half an hour’s exercise and avoid any notice of the detritus lurking in the corners.

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