Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rhododendron: Now There's A Word For You!

I have always been fascinated with words.  I like the way some words sound, like "melody".  It's a pretty word with a pretty meaning.  Other words, like "zucchini" sound ugly to me, which may explain while I never developed a taste for zucchini.  But every word we use means something.  At times, the same word means more than one thing, so we have to use other words with it to convey the meaning.  I study words and the way people use them.  If I hear a friend say "Oh, he has went to the store" I have to bite my tongue and sit on my hands to stop myself from correcting, and losing, a friend.

Have you ever repeated a word over and over until it sounds wrong to you?  I have.  Corn.  Corn. Corn.  Corn.  Corn.  Now it doesn't sound right.  And who thought of the word "corn"?  Did some native look at the tall stalks in the field and proclaim "This shall be named CORN"?  None of the other natives argued, they just started calling it corn?  I don't think so.  Who decided corn is corn, and love is love, and mercantile is a store?

The story goes that ancient Germanic Tribes invaded Britain sometime in the 5th Century A.D. and brought the beginnings of the English language with them.  But that doesn't explain how the natives derived the language.  I have a hard time believing that some ancient barbaric germanic tribesman with a rebellious streak decided that sometime "c" sounds like an "s" but other times it sounds like a "k".  You won't convince me that natives introduced the phrase "cheery-ho" to say good morning to the Brits.

Around the 1800's, the English language began to adopt words from foreign languages, such as "canyon".  But here's a conundrum:  water that falls is called a waterfall.  But a lake is not called a waterplace, a river is not called a waterfast, and a brook is not called a waterslow.

The english language is complex, as is any form of communication, yet I remain fascinated that every combination of letters we use to make a word, has meaning.  As a writer, my challenge is to choose just the right words to make you laugh, think, cry, or become curious.  Also as a writer, my greatest frustration comes from not being able to find the right words to adequately describe a feeling, a place, or a thought.

For quite some time I have struggled to describe the way I feel when I am living in the tin can.  When I come around a bend in the path I am hiking to be greeted by the splendor of Lake Michigan, there are no words to say how I feel.  I've tried.  I always fall short.  Then I tried to make up new words to describe how I'm feeling, but every new word I tried to make up resembled a combination of two words that already exist, and again, I fall short.  Fetlacdle isn't a word anyone would associate with grandeur.  Neither is wesperly, or tralafully.

In any event, these thoughts fill my time whenever I have a few minutes to spare.  When I am waiting in line at the grocery store, I look at the magazine headlines and ponder words like "shocking".  Say that one over and over…shocking, shocking, shocking, shocking.  Sounds weird, doesn't it?  Or if I am waiting for my kids at school, I start thinking about the words school, bus, teacher, student.  Why do they mean what they mean?

I have no answer.  I can promise you one thing, though.  When you go to bed tonight, you will surely find yourself wide awake, whispering "ceiling.  ceiling.  ceiling.  ceiling" over and over again, and it will drive you to madness.  My apologies in advance.  By the time you drift off to sleep, I trust that you will have found the words to describe how you feel about me right now.

As a final thought, I'd just like to say so long, farewell, adieu, aloha, good day.  You get what I mean, don't you?