Divine words

Yes, I do have too much time on my hands. Only said so last night when contemplating my favourite-English-words-list with another history enthusiast. I love lists, the only problem is that I forget either that I ever made a list for so-and-so, or I simply forgot where I put it. Nevertheless, yes… I suppose I really do have a lot of time on my hands.

Waking up, taking my meds, attempting to huddle myself downstairs for that much-needed cup of strong caffeine and waiting for an online call from my mum is a religiously followed daily habit. I then try to plan the remainder of the day mindfully but living with MS means that masterminding a day is often like solving a puzzle without having all the bits and pieces you need.

And when one does have too much time to waste (or spend, depending on how well I want the rest of the day to look like), I tend to come up with reading and writing first. Blog posts. Grocery lists (which always fall in one or the other category mentioned in the first paragraph). Silly notes mentioning things I have to remember (Post-It© definitely garners its yearly Irish income to the little yellow ones I keep forgetting to remember). Other types of writing: marking paragraphs in books and adding notes in my mobile phone, calendars and everywhere I can write something on (safe from the walls of course). Oh yes, and in my journal if I can remember I actually do keep a journal.

However, back to my list of favourite English words which, by the way, is only a few words long so far. I already know it will be a work in progress with new words added on a regular basis. Last night I was reminded of the list after hearing the word ‘lackadaisical’. How beautifully a word is this! I have to add though that in fact, I am anything but lackada… I do not lack interest. Or spirit. In fact, I am overly interested, or I have too much spirit with my body and brain often not agreeing with each other. Lackadaisical… Lackadaisical…

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.
Albert Einstein

As soon as I hear something I do not know, enter Wikipedia, synonym.com or yourdictionary.com or any other dictionary, encyclopaedia or other tool explaining names, places, situations and whatnot. Talking of ‘encyclopaedia’, I’ve always loved this word since I was about 8 or 9 years old when I was dragging them home from the library. And after working tirelessly with the Encyclopaedia Britannica for years while working in the library, it had to be included in my list of favourite words. I used to collect old dictionaries and still would if I find one interesting enough to read it, and I did used to read them as much as I could.

‘Forbearance’ is another brilliantly sounding word; it is like music to my ears. ‘Serendipity’. ‘Nemesis’. ‘Archaeology’. ‘Lilt’. ‘Onomatopoeia’. ‘Etymology’ also, and etyblahblahblah is a very interesting subject field if you are interested in the origin or words.

I was reading the dictionary. I thought it was a poem about everything.
Steven Wright

A few English words used to scare me though. ‘Ethereal’. ‘Tintinnabulation’. ‘Effervescent’. Effer-what? Yes… it took me a few times of saying these words out loud to myself before I was able to articulate this one to the public (English, being my third language – or fourth depending on who you ask – I had to learn where to put emphasis on words and where not to). After a while you develop an almost innate sense of where to place more drama in certain words, but in the very beginning of my English classes that was not self-evident.

During my first English class I had to explain what ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’ meant and I didn’t know. My teacher was not impressed with me, and neither was I by not knowing such silly and easy words. I copped on big time though and soon English became as important as my first language (Flemish but seeing this is not an official language and only a dialect, Dutch was my mother tongue, with Flemish coming in second, French in third and English in fourth place). Today English is my main language and I often have to think when writing Dutch. Some have said I have a Dublin accent when talking, or a countryside accent and I am utterly happy knowing that linguistically I am fully integrated in Irish society.

And then there are words that would have me laughing aloud… Only a few months ago – when I began reading James Joyce’s Ulysses – I read ‘rubbedup’ and I didn’t know how to pronounce it. Was it ‘rubbe-dup’, ‘rub-bedup’ or ‘rubbed up’? Honestly… if anyone watched me laugh, white coats of the local psychiatry hospital would have kidnapped me because I was still smiling when I went to bed that night. Even now when typing about it I am laughing at the way I tried to pronounce it. Never let someone tell you that James Joyce’s Ulysses is a dead-serious read because it is not. Rubbedup – in the old English – is now ‘rubbed up’ but not that yours truly understood that after first reading the sentence.

Words originating from Latin are extraordinary because I can quite relate to their meaning because of my knowledge of the French language (French is Romanic or Neo-Latin language and form a sub-branch of the Italic language in the Indo-European language group). Latin words are often found in modern Dutch and English because the latter two originate from Germanic languages, also a sub-branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin and Greek words lent themselves to modern day medical, law, psychology, biology and many other scientific terms.

Subsequently, the love for words and language goes deep, which makes me a lexophile and a bibliophile (more words I love!). I will add new words to the list of my favourite terms and in the meantime, I will enjoy Ulysses, and  some more Irvin D. Yalom.

I haven’t set out what I will do today but needless to say… I will read and write some more and I will relish every second of it!

© Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me, 2011-2013. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner are strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Willeke Van Eeckhoutte and Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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