Now, I’m not one to preach, but…

It’s time for another Friday Word of the Week. I started this topic to help myself learn more words and to give myself motivation to expand my reading and put more challenging authors into my reading circulation (Hello, Nabakov!). I also found that the intense focus on a word helped me truly learn it in a more complete way than simply looking it up and trying to remember it.

In this journey so far, short as it’s been, I’ve learned some brand new words and explored the origins of familiar words. There’s a third kind, however, that needs to be included as well: words that I recognize and should know, but whose definition, for some reason, escapes me. These are the words that prompt me, when I see them, to think, “Oh, I know that word. It means…um…uh…oh yeah, it’s about…Okay, fine, fine! I’ll look it up. Crap.” I trot off to consult a dictionary. What usually happens next is a sharp slap to the forehead and an exclamation of “Well, duh!” And then comes the forgetting. Lather, rinse, repeat. Several times. Continue reading

Where do I even start?

As I slog through the mire of finals week, with seemingly endless papers to read and grade, I thought of how nice it would be to have some companionship in my misery. Zelda and Mrs. Parker were occupied with other things, so I thought I’d give you all the opportunity to share some of my pain. Aren’t I thoughtful? Continue reading

Never give in.

Say what you want about the man, but Winston Churchill knew his way around the English language. His speech was deceptively simple at times, showing that one can still have a rapier wit without resorting to convoluted, obscure structure and vocabulary. Take, for example, some of his more quotable moments:

  • Upon being offered the Order of the Garter shortly after his 1954 defeat: “Why should I accept the Order of the Garter from His Majesty when the people have just given me the order of the boot?”
  • “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”
  • “Although always prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it should be postponed.”
  • “During my life I have often had to eat my own words and I have found them a wholesome diet.”

Since I’m not a historian, I’ve often found myself wondering about Churchill’s references, but never about his language, though to be fair, it’s not like I’ve actually read much of his work at all. Nevertheless, it surprised me when I found today’s Word of the Week in yet another Churchill quote:

“The United States is a land of free speech; nowhere is speech freer, not even here where we sedulously cultivate it even it is most repulsive forms.” Continue reading