I LOVE words! I don’t necessarily mean that I enjoy talking. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. But I love the sumptuousness of language. I relish words, lyrics, accents, sarcasm, idioms, proverbs, and all things language–even punctuation and grammar.
Some people think this is weird. When you list among your must-reads Strunk & White and Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, a few eyebrows are bound to furrow with puzzlement.
Where did this love come from? I suppose some of it is inborn. However, I credit my father as well with tapping into that sense of wonder at the richness of words. He loved puns, poems, prose, debate, and dialogue. He quoted Shakespeare’s “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more . . .” more times than I can count. He told jokes like, “How you say ‘Turn off the light’ in French? Darken de john!” He invented a speech that he cited regularly: “Within the vicissitudes of time, one realizes the eschatological considerations . . .” that went on from there and made little sense but introduced words that I was finally curious enough to look up. He also knew grammar in a way that most people didn’t; for instance, why one should say “It is he” rather than “It is him.”
My obsession deepened with books, books, and more books. There are so many quotable lines in the classics, like Don Quixote and Sense and Sensibility. But just as much, how wonderful is a Dr. Seuss book–any Dr. Seuss book! And in between were all the terrific authors I’ve devoured who put their precious efforts into finding the right combination of words and phrases to communicate a deep truth, a feeling I relate to, or a humorous observation.
It’s rare to find others who enjoy these things as much as I–unless, of course, I’m hobnobbing with fellow writers! Are we a strange breed? Other writers (and, to be fair, English teachers) are the only people I’ve talked to who relate to spending five full minutes choosing the next word in a sentence or pondering for a while whether a comma or a dash would be more appropriate.
The beautiful truth about writing is that there are SO many words in the English language (over 600,000 in the Oxford English Dictionary) available to us, there are numerous punctuation choices to be made (with rules and flexibility), and language can communicate the unity of human experience. It is this awe I have for language that makes me consider myself Julie Glover, Word Lover.
What do you love about words? About the English language in particular? How does your love of words enhance your writing?